University of California Santa Cruz Police Department
UC Santa Cruz PD Policy Manual



Animal Control Procedures


The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines for animal control officers and University of California Santa Cruz Police Department personnel in dealing with animal control related calls for service and to set forth procedures regarding animal control services, the handling of injured animals, and the abatement of animal nuisances.



The Animal Control Officer (ACO) shall be responsible for enforcing local, state and federal laws relating to animals, and for appropriately resolving or referring animal problems as outlined in this policy. The ACO shall be under the operational control of the Patrol Division. The Animal Control Officer's assigned working hours will be scheduled by the Patrol Division Commander.

During hours when the ACO is on duty, requests for animal control services shall be assigned by the Dispatch Center or the Shift Supervisor.

Requests for assistance by the ACO shall be acknowledged and responded to promptly.



During hours when the Animal Control Officer is off-duty, or if the ACO is otherwise unavailable, the following animal related calls for service will be handled by the appropriate on-duty officer.

Officers may be dispatched to animal related calls and should take appropriate actions to control the situation until the arrival of an ACO. Due to the hazards of handling animals without proper equipment, responding officers generally should not attempt to capture and pick up any animal, but should keep the animal under observation until the arrival of the ACO. The following are examples of when an officer may consider acting before the arrival of the ACO:

 (a) When there is a threat to the public safety.

 (b) When animal has bitten someone, officers should take measures to confine the animal and prevent further injury.

 (c) When an animal is creating a traffic hazard.

 (d) When the owner/handler has been arrested and there is no other alternative placement for the animal.

 (e) When the animal is gravely injured.



Officers shall conduct a preliminary investigation on all reports of animal cruelty and forward the information to the ACO for follow-up. Officers shall not hesitate to take any immediate actions deemed necessary. The assistance of an animal control officer may be requested to assist with the investigation when appropriate for the purpose of handling the disposition of any animal(s) associated with the case.


820.3.2 STRAY DOGS

If the dog has a license or can otherwise be identified, the owner should be contacted, if possible. If the owner is contacted, the dog should be released to the owner and a citation may be issued if appropriate. If a dog is taken into custody, it shall be transported to the Animal Shelter (9am-4pm) or to the holding pens, making sure the animal has food, water, and bedding.

The animal pick-up form must be completely filled out and placed in the ACO's box. Release    of impounded dogs requires a fee be paid. Releases will be handled by the ACO or, in his/her absence, by a patrol officer. The Records Section will accept fees and issue receipts.

The ACO will transport any animals in the holding pens to the Animal Shelter as soon as he/she comes on duty. Once a dog has been taken into custody, all releases should be handled by the Animal Shelter. In cases where the ACO is not available, the Shift Supervisor shall designate  an alternate to transport so that any animals are not held in the holding pens unnecessarily for extended periods.



Officers shall obtain as much information as possible for forwarding to the ACO for follow-up. Officers shall instruct the owner of a biting animal, if contacted, to keep the animal confined on the property until contacted by the ACO. If the animal is a stray, then every effort shall be made to capture and impound the animal immediately.



Officers shall obtain and forward to the ACO as much information as possible regarding the nature of the complaint, complaining person, owner information (if possible), location of problem, etc. Officers will also document any actions taken, citation(s) issued, related report numbers, etc.

In the event responding officers cannot fulfill urgent requests for service because the animal is difficult or dangerous to handle, the ACO may be called to duty to handle. If the ACO is unavailable, the patrol supervisor may request the assistance of an animal control officer from an allied agency.

All requests to call in the ACO must be approved by a field supervisor or the Shift Supervisor.



Deceased animals on public property will be removed and properly disposed of by the ACO. Officers will remove deceased animals when the Animal Control Officer is not on duty. The deceased animals may be placed in the dead pan of the Animal Control Officer's truck.

 (a) For health and sanitary reasons, deceased animals should be placed in a sealed plastic bag prior to placing in the ACO truck. Large animals should be double bagged and left next to the ACO truck, out of public view.

 (b) Neither the ACO nor any officer will be required to climb onto or under any privately owned structure for the purpose of removing a deceased animal.



When any injured domesticated animal is brought to the attention of a member of this agency, all reasonable attempts shall be made to contact the owner or responsible handler. When the owner or responsible handler cannot be located and the animal is not an immediate danger to the community, it shall be taken to a doctor of veterinary medicine as described below (Penal Code 597.1(b)).

 (a) During normal business hours, the animal should be taken to an authorized veterinary care clinic.

 (b) If after normal business hours, the animal should be taken to the authorized Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Services Clinic.

 (c) The only exception to the above is when the animal is an immediate danger to the community or the owner of the animal is identified and takes responsibility for the injured animal.

  1. When the need to kill a seriously injured or dangerous animal is necessary, the department Firearms and Qualification Policy shall be followed. The decision to dispose of a seriously injured animal will rest with the on-duty Shift Supervisor.

 (d) Injured wildlife should be referred to the SPCA, Marine Mammal Center or Department of Fish and Wildlife as applicable. The SPCA will not pick up common pigeons (red legs), starlings, bats or skunks.

 (e) When handling dead or injured animals department employees shall attempt to identify and notify the owner of the final disposition of the animal.

 (f) Each incident shall be documented and, at minimum, include the name of the reporting party and veterinary hospital and/or person to whom the animal is If the ACO is off duty, the information will be forwarded for follow-up.


820.6     CITATIONS

It should be at the discretion of the handling officer or the Field Supervisor as to the need for, or advisability of, the issuance of a citation for a violation.



The arresting officer should make a reasonable effort to ensure that animals or pets under a person's care will be provided with adequate care when that person is arrested. This is only required when there is no person to provide care and the arrestee is expected to be in custody for a time period longer than would reasonably allow him/her to properly care for the animals. 

Relatives or neighbors may be contacted, with the owner's consent, to care for the animals. If  no persons can be found or the owner does not consent, the appropriate animal control authority should be notified.




Policy 820 PDF