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(A) Definitions. For the purpose of this section, the following definition shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.
DANGEROUS OR VICIOUS TENDENCIES. The following shall be deemed animals with dangerous or vicious tendencies:
(a) Any animal that inflicts severe injury or death to a person, or bites a person on public or private property;
(b) Any animal that has killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property;
(c) Any animal which chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks or any public or private property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack such that the person reasonably believes that the animal will cause physical injury to that person; and
(d) Any individual animal with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury or to otherwise threaten the safety of persons or domestic animals.
(B) Wild and exotic animals. Any animal, under the definition of the term “wild and exotic”, shall be presumed to be a vicious animal. WILD AND EXOTIC ANIMALS shall mean any mammal, amphibian, reptile or fowl which is of a species which is wild by nature, and of a species which, due to size, vicious nature or other characteristic, is dangerous to human beings. Such animals shall include, but not be limited to, lions, tigers, leopards, panthers, lynx, wolves, raccoons, skunks (whether deodorized or not), apes, gorillas, monkeys, foxes, elephants, rhinoceroses, alligators, crocodiles and all forms of poisonous reptiles, and any other animal that is not indigenous to the county. The term “wild animal” shall not include gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rabbits and ferrets.
(C) Declaration of vicious animal.
(1) An animal shall be automatically declared to be a vicious animal under division (A) above, divisions (a) through (c) of the definition.
(2) The city’s Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, may find and declare an animal to be a vicious animal if the Director has cause to believe that an animal is a vicious animal under division (A) above, division (d) of the definition or division (B) above.
(D) Notification to owner of designation of vicious animal. The city’s Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, shall notify the owner of the animal of its designation as a vicious animal and of the requirements for the owners of a vicious animal as set out in division (H) below.
(E) Appeals. If the animal is declared to be vicious under this section, the notice shall inform the owner of the animal that a determination hearing may be requested to contest the declaration. The request for a hearing must be in writing and must be received by the Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, within ten calendar days of the date of the vicious animal declaration. Failure to appeal the declaration of vicious animal within the ten-day period shall result in the regulatory authority’s declaration as final.
(F) Defenses to declaration of vicious animal. It is a defense to the determination of an animal as vicious and to the prosecution of the owner of an animal previously declared to be vicious if:
(1) The person was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the animal or was observed or reported to have teased, tormented, abused or assaulted the animal;
(2) The person was committing or attempting to commit a crime;
(3) The domestic animal killed was at the time teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the animal;
(4) The animal was protecting or defending a person within the immediate vicinity of the animal from an unjustified attack or assault;
(5) The animal was injured and responding to pain; or
(6) The animal was protecting her puppies, itself or its kennel mates.
(G) Registration of vicious animals; required notifications to Environmental Crimes Officer; sale or relocation of animal.
(1) The owner of an animal declared to be vicious under this section shall, within ten calendar days of the date of the vicious animal declaration, register the animal with the Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee.
(2) The owner shall notify the Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, as soon as possible, but under any circumstances within 24 hours, if a vicious animal is loose, stolen or unconfined in any approved enclosure, has attacked another animal or has attacked a person, or has died.
(3) The city’s Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, may, at his or her discretion, allow or disallow the relocation, giving or selling of a vicious animal. The approval by the Galveston County Animal Resource Center to give, sell or relocate a vicious animal shall be in writing.
(4) If the owner of the vicious animal obtains approval to relocate, sell or give away a vicious animal, the owner shall provide the Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, with the name, address and telephone number of the new owner or location of the new or improved enclosure. The new owner must sign a sworn statement that he or she will comply with all the requirements of owners of vicious animals if within the city. The new owner must comply with the requirements of owners of vicious animals. The new owner must comply with the requirements of owners within 30 days.
(H) Requirements for owners of vicious animals.
(1) An owner of an animal declared to be a vicious animal under this section must comply with the following within 30 days of such final determination. Compliance with these requirements will be determined by the Officer or designee.
(a) The animal must be registered in accordance with this section.
(b) The vicious animal must be kept in a proper enclosure. The fence or structure/pen must form an enclosure suitable to prevent entry of young children, and must be locked and secured such that a dog cannot climb, dig, jump or otherwise escape of its own volition. The enclosure shall be securely locked at all times. The structure/pen must have six secure sides (including top and bottom) to prevent the animal from escaping from the enclosure. The structure/pen shall provide protection from the elements for the animal.
(c) The owner must present to the Environmental Crimes Officer, or his or her designee, a certificate of public liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 to cover any damages caused or which may be caused by the vicious animal. The insurance shall be for a 12-month period and shall not be cancelled unless the animal is no longer kept by the owner. The city shall be named as a certificate holder and shall be entitled to receive notices of cancellation and policy renewals directly.
(d) The vicious animal, when taken outside the enclosure, must be securely muzzled in a manner that will not cause injury to the vicious animal or interfere with its vision or respiration, but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal, and the vicious animal must be restrained by a substantial chain or cable leash having a minimum tensile strength of 1,000 pounds and not to exceed six feet in length, and shall be restricted from any public park.
(e) The owner shall post a sign on his or her premises warning that there is a vicious animal on the property. This sign shall be visible and capable of being read from the public street or highway.
(f) The vicious animal must be spayed or neutered and micro-chipped.
(2) If the owner of an animal declared to be vicious under this section is unable to unwilling to comply with the ownership requirements listed in this division (H), the animal shall be euthanized by an animal shelter, the animal control agency, a licensed veterinarian or the regulatory authority. An animal declared to be vicious under this section shall not be offered for adoption or sale and shall not be moved from the approved enclosure or the city without written permission from the regulatory authority.
(I) Dangerous or vicious animals at large. Any animal having dangerous or vicious propensities and tendencies found at large after the owner thereof has previous knowledge or notice that such animal is dangerous or vicious or has dangerous or vicious propensities and tendencies may be killed by any law enforcement officer without the officer having to catch or impound such animal or notifying the owner of the animal.
(J) License revocation. The Environmental Crimes Officer, his or her designee, may, after providing opportunity for a hearing, revoke a city collar/tag for any dog or cat whose owner has been notified that the animal has been declared dangerous or vicious, if:
(1) The dog or cat is not confined or is found running at large;
(2) The dog or cat is not muzzled as required in this section;
(3) The dog or cat bites or attempts to bite any person or chases or otherwise attempts to catch a person;
(4) The dog or cat attacks or attempts to attack any other animal when in violation of any section of this chapter;
(5) The owner has been convicted of any violation of a federal, state or local law, ordinance or rule pertaining to the dog or cat;
(6) The owner does not register the vicious animal or obtain the insurance coverage as required in division (G) above; or
(7) The owner does not build, obtain or provide an enclosure for the vicious animal, have the enclosure approved by the regulatory authority and confine the vicious animal within the enclosure. The owner shall have 30 days from the date on which the owner knows his or her animal has engaged in vicious conduct to obtain the approved enclosure.
(K) Muzzling. Any dog tied or staked to public property shall be securely muzzled by the owner in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or interfere with its vision or respiration, but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal. Further, the owner of any animal which has been conclusively presumed to be dangerous or vicious shall muzzle such animal when:
(1) The animal is not confined in a secure enclosure or is off the premises of the owner;
(2) The animal is on the premises of a business when such business is open or accessible to the public;
(3) The animal is on the outside premises of private property and not confined in such a manner as to preclude contact with casual visitors such as a mail person or delivery person, meter reader, children and the like;
(4) The animal is on the outside of premises of private property where appropriate and adequate warning signs which are visible and capable of being read from the public street or highway have not been posted; or
(5) The animal is on a leash, on or off the owner’s property, and not confined as required in division (H)(2) above.
(L) Exemptions. The provision of this section shall not apply to any law enforcement agency where a dog is being used for law enforcement.
(1998 Code, § 18-47) (Ord. 07-14, passed 3-7-2007) Penalty, see § 95.999