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(A) Determination. The city’s Animal Control shall have the authority to make a determination that an animal is a dangerous animal as defined in § 91.001, and to order the owner to comply with any of the measures set forth in this section for the protection of public health, safety and welfare.
(1) Upon receipt of a citizen complaint, police report or other report of an animal bite, attack, threatening behavior or other reason to believe an animal may be a dangerous animal, an Animal Control Officer shall evaluate the seriousness of the complaint or report and if the circumstances warrant, may conduct an investigation of the facts. Where practicable and readily located, the investigation shall include interviewing the complainant, the victim, if any, the animal’s owner and any witnesses, and observation of the animal and the scene. The investigator then shall make a written finding of whether an animal is a dangerous animal and the basis for that finding. In addition, if during the course of the investigation, the investigator uncovers evidence of inhumane treatment of any animal in violation of § 91.015, he or she shall make a written finding of the specific violation and issue the appropriate citations. For purposes of this section, a police report may constitute an investigation and may include a finding of dangerousness. Based upon the investigator’s finding of a dangerous animal, the city’s Animal Control may declare in writing that the animal is a dangerous animal. All bites will be subject to the quarantine procedures of §§ 91.092 and 91.093.
(2) Where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal, and the animal has caused severe injury or death to any person, or domesticated animal, then the city’s Animal Control may order the humane destruction of the animal, where appropriate, taking into consideration the severity and the circumstances of the injury.
(3) In all cases where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal and the animal is not humanely destroyed, the city’s Animal Control shall order the owner to comply with the following requirements:
(a) While on the owner’s property, the owner must securely confine the dangerous animal indoors or within a securely enclosed and locked pen, structure or fence, suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping. The pen, structure or fence must be a minimum of 6 feet in height and must have secure sides. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than 2 feet deep. The enclosure also must be humane and provide some protection from the elements for the animal.
(b) 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 6 feet in length, and under the control of a responsible person 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.
(c) 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.” The sign must be visible and legible from the public way and from 50 feet away from the special enclosure required herein.
(4) In addition, the Animal Control Director may order the owner to comply with any of the following requirements, in any combination:
(a) The owner must confine the dangerous animal to the secure enclosure described above at all times and only allow the animal out under the condition set forth where it is necessary to obtain veterinary care for the animal or to comply with a court order.
(b) The owner must present written proof from an insurance company and/or agent that he or she has procured liability insurance in the amount of $300,000 or such other amount as is determined by the city’s Animal Control, covering all damage or injury which may be caused by the dangerous animal.
(c) The owner and the animal must complete a course of animal obedience training approved by the city’s Animal Control.
(d) As an alternative to destruction of the animal, the city’s Animal Control may order that the dangerous animal shall be permanently barred from the city limits dependent upon the circumstances.
(C) Notice and right to appeal.
(1) Where the owner’s address can be reasonably ascertained, the city’s Animal Control shall send written notice to the owner by certified mail stating that his or her animal has been declared a dangerous animal, describing the basis for such declaration by specific behavior and date(s) of occurrence, setting forth all applicable orders and restrictions imposed by reason of the declaration, and informing the owner of his or her right to appeal the determination by filing a written request for a hearing within 7 days of receipt of the notice. A copy of the notice shall be sent to the complainant, if any. Where the animal has been impounded pursuant to division (F) below, the notice shall be sent within 15 days after the impoundment.
(2) If the owner requests a hearing, the Board of Public Works and Safety shall hold a hearing, at which all interested parties may present testimony and any other relevant evidence, within 15 days of the request. The hearing shall be taped. If the Board upholds Animal Control’s determination that the animal is dangerous, the owner shall have 30 days to satisfy all requirements set out in division (C)(1) above and the notice. In those cases where the city’s Animal Control has ordered humane destruction of the dangerous animal, that order shall not be carried out until 7 days after the hearing; if the owner appeals to the city during that time period, that order shall be stayed until resolution of the appeal.
(3) Where there is probable cause to believe that an animal is a dangerous animal, the city’s Animal Control is authorized to impound and hold the animal, at the owner’s expense, pending the investigation and final resolution of any appeals. Where the animal has caused severe injury or death to any person, the city’s Animal Control is required to impound and hold the 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 city’s Animal Control approves the enclosure required by division (B)(3)(a) above.
(D) Guard dogs. Guard dogs and dogs which have been found to be “vicious dogs,” both of which are defined above as dangerous animals, automatically are required to comply with the requirements without the need for any individualized declaration or the right to any hearing, except that, to the extent an owner disputes the fact that his or her animal is used as a guard dog by a commercial venture, in the instances the protection set forth above shall apply.
(E) Miscellaneous provisions.
(1) Every owner of a dangerous animal shall allow inspection of the required enclosure by the city’s Animal Control.
(2) All dangerous animals as defined in this chapter are hereby declared to be a public nuisance; provided that they are lawful if maintained in strict compliance with the requirements set out above.
(3) Where an animal has caused severe injury or death to any person, but it is not found to be a dangerous animal on the grounds that the attack was provoked, the city’s Animal Control shall advise the owner to comply with the safety measures set forth herein in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare.
(F) Impoundment. Any animal which has been declared a dangerous animal and which is seen outside and not confined within the enclosure required herein, and not muzzled and under control as required herein, or thereafter attacks or injures a person or domestic animal, may be impounded by an animal control officer or a police officer, at the owner’s expense, and the city’s Animal Control may order the owner to comply with any of the alternatives set forth herein, including humane destruction of the animal. The owner shall be entitled to notice and an opportunity for a hearing in the same manner as provided in division (C) above.
(Prior Code, § 91.75) (Ord. 7848, passed 2-26-1996; Am. Ord. 8566, passed 5-24-2004) Penalty, see § 91.999