CHAPTER 56 – Vicious Dogs




56.01 Definition 56.04 Seizure, Impoundment and Disposition
56.02 Keeping of Vicious Dogs 56.05 Violations and Penalties
56.03 Insurance Requirement

56.01    DEFINITION. For the purpose of this chapter, a “vicious dog” means:

1. Any dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, unprovoked, as evidenced by its habitual or repeated chasing, snapping or barking at human beings or domestic animals so as to potentially cause injury or to otherwise endanger their safety; or

2. A dog which has attacked or bitten any person (without provocation) or when propensity to attack or bite persons exists and such propensity is known to the owner, or ought reasonably to be known to the owner thereof; or

3. Any dog deemed to be vicious by the County Board of Health or Council or its designee:

A. The Bull Terrier breed of dog;

B. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dog;

C. The American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dog;

D. The American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dog;

E. Dogs of mixed breed or of other breeds than above listed which breed or mixed breed is known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers; or

F. Any dog which has the appearance and characteristics of being predominately of the breeds of Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, any other breed commonly known as pit bulls, pit bull dogs or pit bull terriers, or a combination of any of these breeds.

G. Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers.

56.02   KEEPING OF VICIOUS DOGS. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, no person owning, possessing, harboring or having the care of a vicious dog shall permit such animal to go unconfined upon the premises of such person and shall not permit the dog to go beyond the premises unless the dog is confined. A vicious dog is unconfined unless the following conditions are met:

1. Leash. No person shall permit a vicious dog to go outside its kennel or pen unless such dog is securely leashed with a leash no longer than four (4) feet in length. No person shall permit a vicious dog to be kept on a chain, rope or other type of leash outside its kennel or pen unless a person is in physical control of the leash. Such dogs may not be leashed to inanimate objects such as trees, posts, buildings, etc.

2. Confinement. All vicious dogs shall be securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or kennel, except when leashed as provided above. Such pen, kennel or structure must have secured sides and a secure top attached to the sides. All structures to confine vicious dogs must be locked with a key or a combination lock when such animals are within the structure. Such structure must have a secure bottom or floor attached to the sides of the pen, and the floor must be concrete and extend 12″ away from the kennel sides. All structures erected to house vicious dogs much comply with all zoning and building regulations of the City. All such structures must be adequately lighted and ventilated and kept in a clean and sanitary condition.

No vicious dog may be kept on a porch, patio or in any part of a house or structure that would allow the dog to exit such building on its own volition.

56.03    INSURANCE REQUIREMENT. Owners of such dogs must provide proof of insurance issued by an insurance company licensed to do business in this state, providing personal liability insurance coverage as in a homeowner’s policy, with a minimum liability amount of $100,000.00 for the injury or death of any person, for damage to property of others and for acts of negligence by the owner or his or her agents, in the keeping or owning of such vicious dog. The certificate shall require notice to the City, in conformity with general City standards for certificates of insurance, if the underlying policy of insurance is cancelled for any reason. In lieu of such a certificate, a copy of a current homeowner’s policy designating these requirements shall be sufficient proof of insurance for purposes of this subsection. If a certificate of insurance or policy is not immediately available, a binder indicating the coverage may be accepted for up to 30 days subsequent to the determination that a dog is vicious; however, if after 30 days a certificate of insurance or a policy has not been submitted or if the required insurance is cancelled during the license year the City may move forward with legal action.

56.04   SEIZURE, IMPOUNDMENT AND DISPOSITION. Unconfined vicious dogs shall be seized and impounded in accordance with the following:

1. The Police Chief or Animal Control Officer, in their discretion or upon receipt of a complaint alleging that a particular dog is unconfined and vicious as defined herein, may initiate proceedings to declare such dog as a vicious dog. A hearing on the matter shall be conducted by the Council. The person owning, keeping, sheltering or harboring the animal in question shall be given not less than seventy-two (72) hours’ written notice of the time and place of said hearing. Said notice shall set forth the description of the dog in question and the basis for the allegation of being unconfined and vicious. The notice shall also set forth that if the animal is determined to be vicious, the owner will be required to remove it from the City or allow it to be destroyed. The notice shall be served upon any adult residing at the premises where the animal is located or may be posted on those premises if no adult is present to accept service.

2. If after a hearing, the Council determines that an animal is vicious, the Council shall order the person owning, sheltering, harboring or keeping the animal to remove it from the City, or to cause it to be destroyed in a humane manner. The order shall immediately be served upon the person against whom issued in the same manner as the notice of hearing. If the order is not complied with within three (3) days of its issuance, the Police Chief or Animal Control Officer is authorized to seize and impound the dog, if not already impounded. A dog so seized shall be impounded for a period of seven (7) days. If at the end of the impoundment period, the person against whom the order of the Council was issued has not petitioned the District Court for a review of said order, the Police Chief or Animal Control Officer shall cause the animal to be destroyed.

3. Failure to comply with an order of the Council issued pursuant hereto shall constitute a misdemeanor offense.

4. Any dog found at large which displays vicious tendencies may be processed as a vicious dog pursuant to the foregoing, unless the animal is so vicious that it cannot safely be apprehended; in which case, the Police Chief or Animal Control Officer may immediately destroy it, or unless its ownership is not ascertainable, in which case, it may be destroyed after three (3) days’ impoundment.

5. Any dog which is alleged to be vicious and which is under impoundment or quarantine shall not be released to the owner but shall continue to be held at the expense of the owner pending the outcome of the hearing. All costs of such impoundment or quarantine shall be paid by the owner if the animal is determined to be vicious. If the dog is not determined to be vicious, the first seven (7) days of impoundment or quarantine shall be paid by the owner and the remaining days shall be paid by the City.

56.05   VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES. Any persons violating or permitting the violation of any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a simple misdemeanor. Should the defendant refuse to remove the dog from the City, the magistrate shall find the defendant (owner) in contempt and order the immediate confiscation (impoundment) of the dog. Each day that a violation of this chapter continues shall be deemed a separate offense. In addition to the foregoing penalties, any person who violates this chapter shall pay all expenses, including shelter, food, handling, veterinary care and testimony necessitated by the enforcement of this chapter.