Solutions to Long-Term Cases in States Without Pre-Conviction Forfeiture Provision
The best options in most abuse cases are to (1) try to get an owner to sign a release or (2) find foster homes for those still in the shelter. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has sample forms here that can be customized by each shelter.
Here are some other possibilities, that may or may not apply or work in this situation, or be the best solution:
The prosecutor could file a motion for priority setting on the court docket and expedited hearing dates, but it is easy for defendants to get around this later by asking for continuances and firing counsel, as we often see happen. Also, the prosecutor may not be able to get ready that quickly.
Although not preferable for a number of reasons, the prosecutor and defense attorney/defendant could work towards a quicker resolution through some sort of plea agreement.
The only other legal option we are aware of is to try to file a civil action for custody, but it would probably be put on hold until resolution of the criminal case.
Another important thing you may want to consider in the near future is to work on upgrading your state laws to allow for pre-conviction forfeiture, like many states already do, so that the animal victims are not wasting away in cages indefinitely but are instead allowed to be placed into loving home. Download our model state anti-cruelty laws. It includes a cost-of-care bonding provision.
Massachusetts is considering a number of significant animal protection bills this legislative session. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is supporting several priority bills.January 21, 2020 News
Animal Legal Defense Fund Publishes 2019 State Ranking ReportJanuary 21, 2020 Press Release