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A. The animal control officer may designate a dog as potentially dangerous if:
1. The dog, unprovoked, inflicts a bite on a human or domesticated animal; or
2. The dog, unprovoked, charges or approaches a person with an attitude of attack.
B. The animal control officer may designate a dog as dangerous if:
1. The dog, unprovoked, inflicts severe injury on a human or domesticated animal;
2. The dog, unprovoked, kills a domesticated animal; or
3. The dog has been previously designated as potentially dangerous and, unprovoked, inflicts a bite on a human or domesticated animal, charges or approaches a person with an attitude of attack.
C. A dog is not potentially dangerous or dangerous if the threat, injury, or damage was sustained by a human who at the time of the animal's act or acts:
1. Was committing an unreasonable trespass upon premises occupied by the dog's owner, the owner's immediate family, a responsible person, or a responsible person's immediate family;
2. Was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog;
3. Has in the past been observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog; or
4. Was committing or attempting to commit a crime.
D. The animal control officer shall seize any dog the animal control officer has designated as dangerous within a reasonable time after the designation. The animal shall be impounded at a licensed veterinary hospital or licensed animal shelter and may only be released if the owner pays all impoundment fees and:
1. The municipal court judge has determined the dog is not dangerous; or
2. The animal control officer has determined the owner meets the requirements for keeping a dangerous dog as required by this chapter.
E. If the animal control officer designates a dog as dangerous or potentially dangerous, the officer shall provide the owner with notice of the designation. Notification may be accomplished orally by phone, electronic mail, or in-person communication, or by written notice via standard mail, personal delivery, or posting the notice in a conspicuous place at the owner's residence.
F. An owner may appeal a potentially dangerous or dangerous designation by filing a written notice of appeal and request for hearing with the clerk of the municipal court. The filing shall occur within ten (10) business days after notification of the designation, with a copy provided to the city attorney.
1. The municipal court shall hold a hearing on the appeal within thirty (30) business days after filing, but not earlier than fourteen (14) business days after filing. The parties can agree to a continuance of the hearing.
2. Both sides shall give notice of the witnesses they intend to call at least ten (10) days prior to the date set for the hearing.
3. At the hearing, the owner has the burden to show the designation was improper by the preponderance of the evidence.
4. The Montana Rules of Evidence shall be enforced at the hearing.
G. A dangerous dog shall be kept in the enclosure required by the dangerous dog licensing provisions when on the owner's premises. At all times when the dog is outside the enclosure, it shall be muzzled and on a leash of ten feet (10') or less that is held by a person physically able to control the dog. The muzzle must prevent the dog from biting any human or animal but must not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration.
H. If an owner fails to comply with any condition of keeping a dangerous dog, the animal control officer shall seize the dangerous dog and may also pursue court-ordered relinquishment under 5-2-7(J).
I. Within twenty-four (24) hours after a change in ownership, change in address, or death of a dangerous dog, the owner shall notify the animal control officer of such event.
J. The city may petition the municipal court for an order requiring the owner to relinquish ownership of a dangerous dog when the owner has failed to comply with any condition of keeping a dangerous dog or has not retrieved the dog from impoundment within five (5) business days after the date on which the animal control officer designates the dog as dangerous or the date on which the municipal court judge issues a decision on any appeal of the designation, whichever is later.
1. The city shall make a reasonable effort to provide the owner a copy of the petition within a reasonable time after filing.
2. The municipal court shall hold a hearing within twenty (20) business days after the date on which the petition was filed and shall issue a decision within ten (10) business days after the hearing date.
K. The owner of a potentially dangerous dog may petition the municipal court to remove the designation if the owner and the dog have not committed any violations of this chapter for a period of at least two (2) years following the designation. The owner shall provide the city attorney with a copy of the petition.
L. The owner of a dangerous dog may petition the Municipal Court to remove the designation if the owner and the dog have not committed any violations of this chapter for a period of at least five (5) years following the designation. The owner shall provide the city attorney with a copy of the petition.
M. When an owner has filed a petition for removal of a potentially dangerous or dangerous designation, the municipal court shall hold a hearing to determine if the designation should be removed. If the court finds the designation should be removed, the court may impose continuing conditions on the owner to assure continuing compliance with this chapter, as the court deems proper.
N. If the municipal court denies a petition to remove a potentially dangerous or dangerous designation, the owner may not file another such petition for at least one (1) year from the date of the order denying the petition. (Ord. 3282, 7-13-2020)