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(a) Determination of a Vicious Animal. The animal control officer or any public safety officer shall investigate all complaints of a vicious animal. If the animal control officer or any public safety officer has reasonable cause to believe that an animal is vicious, he or she shall institute proceedings in the 29th District Court requesting the court to conduct a hearing on whether or not the animal should be declared vicious under this section. The issue of whether the animal is a vicious animal within the meaning of this section shall be decided based upon the preponderance of the evidence. If the court rules the animal to be vicious, it may order that the animal be confined to the owner’s premises or euthanized. The court may establish a time schedule to ensure compliance with this section, but in no case shall such time exceed 30 days after the date of the court’s determination. Court costs for such action shall be taxed against the owner of the animal. The court may decide all issues for or against the owner of the animal regardless of the fact that the owner fails to appear at the hearing, and the determination of the court shall be final and conclusive upon all parties thereto. If the animal control officer or any public safety officer has probable cause to believe that the animal in question is vicious and may pose a threat of serious harm to human beings or other domestic animals, the animal control officer or public safety officer may seize and impound the animal pending the hearing. The owner of the animal shall be liable to the city for the costs and expenses of keeping such animal.
(b) Possession of Certain Animals Prohibited. It is unlawful for any person to possess, harbor, breed, exchange, buy or sell any of the following exotic or wild animals:
(1) Poisonous or venomous reptiles, spiders and insects.
(2) Cats from the wild family, including, but not limited to, bobcats, cheetahs, cougars, jaguars, leopards, lions, lynxes, mountain lions, panthers, pumas, or tigers.
(3) Crocodilian reptiles, including, but not limited to, crocodiles and alligators.
(5) Any other dangerous animal.
(c) Requirements for Registration. Upon a finding by the court that an animal is vicious, its owner shall comply with the following requirements for licensing:
(1) License application. The owner shall apply to the City Clerk for a vicious animal license which shall be valid for one year from the date of its approval provided all conditions of this section and applicable court orders have been met. The license shall be renewable for successive one-year periods provided that the animal is to be kept on the same premises under the same conditions and its owner has not violated any conditions of this section or any court order during the previous 12-month period. No such license shall be transferable to a new owner of the animal or to a new location or address where the animal will be kept.
(2) Insurance. Prior to the receipt of a license, the owner shall present to the City Clerk proof that the owner has procured liability insurance in the amount of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) covering any damage or injury which may be caused by such vicious animal during the 12-month period for which licensing is sought, which policy shall contain a provision naming the city as an additional insured and shall provide that the city shall be notified by the insurance company of any cancellation, termination or expiration of the liability insurance policy. In addition, the owner shall sign a statement attesting that the owner shall maintain and not voluntarily cancel the liability insurance during the 12-month period for which licensing is sought, unless the owner shall cease to keep or harbor the vicious animal prior to expiration of such licenses.
(3) Signs. Prior to the receipt of a license, the owner shall display a sign in a prominent place on his or her premises warning of a vicious animal on the premises. Said sign shall be visible and capable of being read from any adjacent public right-of-way.
(4) Confinement of vicious animal. Prior to the receipt of a license, the owner shall provide for the confinement of the vicious animal. If the vicious animal is to be confined outdoors, the animal shall be confined to a pen or structure with secure sides and top attached to the sides. The structure shall have a secure bottom or floor attached to the sides of the pen or the structure shall be embedded in the ground no less than two feet. The structure shall be constructed in accordance with standards set forth in Chapter 5 and shall be constructed of materials and be designed so as to prevent any escape of the animal or entry of young children. In addition, the size and location of the structure shall comply with the provisions of the zoning ordinance of the city including lot coverage and setback requirements, applicable to accessory structures. The owner shall keep the structure locked with a padlock or keylock at all times that the vicious animal is kept inside the structure, and shall keep the structure adequately lit and in a clean and sanitary condition. If the vicious animal is to be confined indoors, the vicious animal shall not be kept on a porch or patio or in any other part of a house or structure that would allow the animal to exit of its own volition. In addition, no such animal may be kept in a house or structure when the windows are open or when screen windows or screen doors are the only obstacle preventing the animal from exiting.
(5) Proximity to schools. If the court rules an animal to be vicious, and the owner of the animal lives within 500 feet of a school, the court may impose additional regulations to safeguard the public, up to and including ordering the animal permanently removed from the area.
(6) Control of vicious animals. All vicious animals shall be confined as previously described in this section. It shall be unlawful for any owner to maintain a vicious animal upon any premises which does not have a locked enclosure, unless such vicious animal is at all times maintained in the owner’s dwelling. It shall be unlawful for any owner to allow any vicious animal to be outside of the dwelling of the owner or outside of the enclosure unless it is necessary for the owner to obtain veterinary care for the vicious animal or to sell or give away the vicious animal or to comply with commands or directions of the court, the animal control office or any public safety officer with respect to the vicious animal, or to comply with licensing provisions of this section. In such event, the vicious animal shall be securely muzzled and restrained with a choker chain and leash having a minimum tensile strength of 300 pounds and not exceeding three feet in length. The muzzle shall be made and fitted 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 human or animal. The animal shall be under the direct control and supervision of the owner of a vicious animal or his agent, either of whom shall be, in any event, a person of 18 years of age and physically capable of restraining the animal.
(7) Reporting requirements. An owner shall notify the City Police Department immediately upon discovery that a vicious animal is on the loose, is unconfined, has attacked another animal or human being, or has been stolen. An owner shall notify the City Clerk in writing within one day if the vicious animal has been sold or given away or has died, and, if the vicious animal has been sold or given away to a new owner residing within the city, the owner shall also provide the City Clerk with the name, address and telephone number of the new owner of the vicious animal.
(8) Penalties for violation.
A. Failure to comply/show cause hearing. Upon an owner’s failure to comply with any condition in the court order finding an animal to be vicious, the animal control officer or any public safety officer shall confiscate the animal and impound same pending a hearing requiring the owner of the animal to show cause why the animal should not be immediately destroyed. The owner of the animal shall be liable to the city for the costs and expenses of keeping such animal. Failure to comply shall, among other things, include:
1. The failure to obtain a vicious animal license in accordance with this section;
2. The failure to secure liability insurance in accordance with this section;
3. The failure to confine the vicious animal to the premises with appropriate signage in accordance with this section;
4. The animal’s presence outside of the owner’s dwelling or the enclosure except as provided in this section;
5. The failure to comply with the reporting requirements of this section.
B. Vicious conduct/show cause hearing. If any vicious animal shall, when unprovoked, kill, wound or assist in killing any domestic animal belonging to or in the possession of any person, or if any vicious animal shall, when unprovoked, attack, assault, wound, bite or otherwise injure a human being, the animal control officer or any public safety officer shall confiscate and impound the vicious animal pending a hearing within seven days requiring the owner of the animal to show cause why the animal should not be destroyed. The owner of the animal shall be liable to the city for the costs and expenses of keeping such animal.
(Ord. 1988-11. Passed 6-7-88; Ord. 1992-15. Passed 4-21-92; Ord. 2005-24. Passed 5-17-05; Ord. 2005-33. Passed 10-4-05; Ord. 2008-09. Passed 11-18-08.)