7-12-050  Dangerous animals – Investigation, determination, and requirements.
   The Executive Director shall have the authority to make a determination that an animal is a dangerous animal, as defined in Section 7-12-020, and to order the owner to comply with any of the measures set forth below for the protection of public health, safety and welfare.
   (a)   Upon receipt of a complaint or other report of an animal bite, attack, threatening behavior, or other reason to believe an animal may be a dangerous animal, the Department shall evaluate the seriousness of the complaint or report and, if the circumstances warrant, may conduct an investigation of the facts. Where necessary, practicable, and readily located, the investigation may include, but not be limited to, interviewing the complainant, the human victim, if any, the victim animal's owner, the biter animal's owner, any witnesses, and also include observation of the animal and the scene, and any other relevant information. The Department then shall make a written finding of whether an animal is a dangerous animal as defined in Section 7-12-020 and the basis for that finding. In addition, if during the course of the investigation, the Department uncovers evidence of inhumane treatment of any animal in violation of Section 7-12-080, the Department shall make a written finding of the specific violation and forward the written finding to the Executive Director. For purposes of this section, a police report may support the Department's determination. When making the determination, the Executive Director shall take into consideration the totality of the circumstances, including the behavior of all of the participants that led to the incident. The Executive Director shall declare in writing whether the animal is a dangerous animal and issue appropriate requirements as set forth in Section 7-12-050.
   (b)   Euthanasia.
      (1)   The Executive Director shall order the euthanasia of a dangerous animal that has been declared dangerous because it has caused death to a person.
      (2)   Where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal because it has been found to have caused the death of another domestic animal, or severe injury to any person or domestic animal, the Executive Director may order the euthanasia of the animal, where appropriate, taking into consideration the severity and the circumstances of injury or death.
   (c)   In all cases where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal and the animal is not euthanized, the Executive Director shall order the owner to comply with the following requirements:
      (1)   While on the owner's property, the owner must securely confine the dangerous animal indoors or within a securely enclosed and locked outdoor enclosure suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping; or both an indoor and outdoor enclosure that meets the above criteria. If the owner chooses to securely confine the dangerous animal within an outdoor enclosure, such enclosure must be a minimum of six feet in height and must have secure sides and top. If the enclosure has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than two feet deep. The enclosure also must be humane and have an area which provides protection for the animal from the elements and extreme temperatures. In addition to the enclosure required by this subsection, the owner shall erect a fence on the perimeter of that portion of the property where the enclosure is located. The location and height of the fence shall be approved by the Executive Director. The enclosure and fence shall be erected within thirty days of the declaration that the animal is a dangerous animal. An owner whose animal will be exclusively confined indoors must submit to the Executive Director a sworn, notarized declaration that the animal will be exclusively confined indoors.
      (2)   While off of the owner's property, a dangerous animal must be muzzled securely to prevent the possibility of biting, restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length, and under the control of a responsible adult at all times. The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or impair its vision or respiration but must prevent it from biting any person or animal.
      (3)   Within 24 hours of the declaration that the animal is a dangerous animal, the owner must display, in a conspicuous manner, a sign on the owner's premises warning that a dangerous animal is on the premises by stating in capital letters:
“WARNING – DANGEROUS ANIMAL – KEEP AWAY.”
If the owner lives in a free-standing residence or a townhome, the sign must be visible and legible from the public way and from 50 feet away from the special enclosure required pursuant to subsection (c)(1) above. If the owner lives in an apartment or multi-unit dwelling and the animal is kept solely within the dwelling, the sign must be placed on both the front and back entries to the unit.
      (4)   Within ten business days of the declaration that the animal is a dangerous animal, the owner, at the owner's expense, shall have an identifying microchip installed under the animal's skin by a veterinarian.
      (5)   Within ten business days of the declaration that the animal is a dangerous animal, the animal shall be sterilized, at the owner's expense.
      (6)   Within ten business days of the declaration that the animal is a dangerous animal, the owner must procure and maintain in effect liability insurance, including coverage of claims arising from the conduct of the owner's animal, in an amount not less than $100,000.00 for each animal declared dangerous for bodily injury, personal injury and property damage.
The insurance shall include a provision whereby the insurer notifies the Executive Director not less than 30 days prior to cancellation or lapse of coverage.
      In addition, the Executive Director may order the owner to comply with any of the following requirements, in any combination:
      (7)   The owner must confine the dangerous animal indoors or within a securely locked outdoor enclosure described above in subsection (1) at all times and only allow the animal out under the conditions set forth in subsection (2) when it is necessary to obtain veterinary care for the animal, comply with a court order, or where an emergency is declared by a government agency requiring evacuation of the owner.
      (8)   The owner and the animal must complete a course of animal obedience training approved by the Executive Director.
   In the alternative to (1) – (8) above, the Executive Director may order that the dangerous animal:
      (i)   at the owner's expense, have an identifying microchip implanted under the animal's skin by a veterinarian; and
      (ii)   be permanently barred from the city limits. The owner shall provide a statement, verified by affidavit, to the Executive Director indicating the new location of the animal, and the name and address of the person having custody of the animal.
   (d)   When an animal has been impounded pursuant to this section, the Executive Director shall send written notice to the last known address of the animal's owner by first class mail.
      (1)   When the animal has been impounded pursuant to subsection (f) below, the notice shall: (i) be sent within 30 days after the first day of impoundment; and (ii) advise the owner of the impoundment, the investigation, and the fees due under Section 7-12-120 or other applicable ordinance or rule.
      (2)   If the animal has been declared a dangerous animal by the Executive Director, the notice shall describe the basis for such declaration by specific behavior and date(s) of occurrence, setting forth all applicable orders and requirements imposed, reason of such declaration, and informing the owner of the right to appeal the determination by filing a written request for a hearing within ten days of service of the notice.
      (3)   Written notice shall be deemed served on the date the notice is mailed.
      (4)   If there is a complainant or victim, and the Department has contact information for that individual, the Department shall also send the individual a copy of the declaration.
   (e)   If the owner requests a hearing, the Department of Administrative Hearings shall appoint an administrative law officer who shall hold a de novo hearing within 30 days of the request, at which all interested parties may present testimony and any other relevant evidence. The hearing shall be taped or recorded by other appropriate means. If the administrative law officer upholds the Executive Director's determination that the animal is dangerous, the owner shall have 30 days to satisfy all requirements set out in subsection (c) and the notice. In those cases where the Executive Director has ordered euthanasia of the dangerous animal, that order shall not be carried out until 36 days after issuance of the final order. If the owner files for administrative review and presents notice of the complaint to the Department within 35 days of the issuance of the final order, the final order shall be stayed until resolution of such appeal.
   (f)   When a complaint has been made or a bite reported, and when the circumstances of the bite incident suggest that an animal will be declared a dangerous animal, the Executive Director or his designee is authorized to either (1) impound and hold such animal, at the owner's expense or (2) impose one or more of the requirements set forth in subsection (c) above, pending the completion of the dangerous animal investigation and final resolution of any appeals. Should an owner fail to comply with requirements issued by the Executive Director under this subsection (f)(2), the Executive Director shall impound and hold the animal at the owner's expense. Where the animal has caused severe injury or death to any person, the Executive Director or his designee shall impound and hold such animal, at the owner's expense, pending the investigation and final resolution of any appeals. Moreover, in no event shall a dangerous animal be released to its owner before the owner obtains a dangerous animal license pursuant to Section 7-12-052 or before the Executive Director or his designee approves the enclosure required by subsection (c)(1). The holding period and impoundment procedures for animals of unknown ownership shall be governed by Section 7-12-060. Any animal impounded and held pursuant to this subparagraph (f) shall receive shelter, food, water, sanitization of kennels, and medical care to the extent the Department's resources and capacity for care will permit during the holding period. Animals may also receive in-kennel enrichment as the Department's partners may be able to provide.
   (g)   Owners of guard dogs and owners of dogs which have been found to be “vicious dogs” under state law shall comply with the requirements of Section 7-12-050(c)(1) through (6) without the need for any individualized declaration or the right to any hearing, except that, to the extent an owner disputes the fact that the animal is used as a guard dog the hearing procedure set forth in subsection (e) of this section shall apply. The Department may promulgate rules that set forth the conditions under which the provisions of subsection (c) of this section shall not apply to guard dogs when the dogs are on assignment.
(Added Coun. J. 10-2-95, p. 8604; Amend Coun. J. 7-10-96, p. 24982; Amend Coun. J. 11-12-97, p. 56813; Amend Coun. J. 4-29-98, p. 66564; Amend Coun. J. 10-31-01, p. 71774, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 3-14-07, p. 99838, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-16-16, p. 37901, Art. I, § 6; Amend Coun. J. 11-16-16, p. 37901, Art. II, § 20; Amend Coun. J. 11-21-17, p. 61755, Art. XII, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 2-28-18, p. 65923, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 1-27-21, p. 26741, Art. II, § 9)