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A. Determination: Whenever an animal control officer determines that there exists probable cause to believe that a dog is potentially dangerous or vicious, the officer shall prepare a petition and schedule an administrative hearing to determine whether or not the dog in question shall be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. This section does not prohibit the animal control officer from immediately issuing a "preventive measures order" for confinement of animal(s) prior to requesting and/or scheduling an administrative hearing.
1. Whenever possible, any complaint received from a member of the public which serves as the evidentiary basis for the animal control officer to find probable cause shall be sworn to and verified by and shall be attached to the petition.
2. Animal control services shall notify the owner or the keeper of the dog and the property owner of the hearing at which time the owner or keeper of the dog shall be given an opportunity to present evidence as to why the dog should not be declared potentially dangerous or vicious. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition must be provided to the owner or keeper of the dog either personally or by first class mail, return receipt requested. The hearing shall be open to the public.
3. An impartial hearing officer who shall be appointed by the town manager or designee shall conduct the hearing. If the owner or keeper of the dog fails to appear at the hearing the hearing shall nevertheless proceed. At least one of the complainants and/or the petitioning animal control officer or representative in the matter must appear and testify at the hearing.
4. The hearing officer shall consider all relevant evidence including any mitigating evidence presented. However, hearings need not be conducted according to technical rules relating to evidence or witnesses. Oral evidence shall be taken on oath or affirmation. Mitigating evidence may include the following:
a. Threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who at the time was committing a wilful trespass upon the premises occupied by the dog, was teasing, provoking, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or was engaged in the commission of a crime.
b. The dog was protecting or defending a person within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault.
c. The dog was defending an attack from another animal or the other animal was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog.
B. Potentially Dangerous Dogs: Any dog, which has been determined to be potentially dangerous may only be maintained under the following terms and conditions:
1. The dog shall be properly licensed with a conspicuously colored tag and vaccinated and be designated potentially dangerous in the registration records. The owner or keeper shall pay an additional annual registration fee to be determined by resolution of the town council.
2. The owner shall, at his or her expense, have the vicious dog microchipped or tattooed with an identifying mark or number by a licensed veterinarian, and provide the dog's microchip number or tattoo number/mark and appropriate paperwork to animal control services.
3. While on the owner's or keeper's property the dog shall be provided with an adequate exercise area and shall be kept indoors, or in a securely fenced and locked yard from which the dog cannot escape and into which children cannot enter.
4. If the dog is restricted by a leash, rope or chain on the property, the leash, rope or chain shall be affixed in such a manner that it will prevent the dog from becoming entangled or injured and permit the dog's access to adequate shelter, food and water.
5. The dog may be off the owner's or keeper's property only if the dog is restrained by a substantial leash, no more than six feet (6') in length and under the control of a responsible, competent and capable adult.
6. Any person keeping or harboring any potentially dangerous dog within the town must provide proof of his/her ability to respond in damages to and including the amount of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) by obtaining a policy of insurance coverage in said amount for bodily injury to or death of any person or persons or for damage to property owned by any other person which may result from the ownership, keeping or maintenance of such animal. Proof of liability shall be given by filing with animal control services, in a form approved by the town attorney, a certificate of insurance issued by a solvent corporation authorized to issue bonds under the laws of the state. Such certificate of insurance or bond shall provide that no cancellation of the insurance or bonds will be made unless thirty (30) days written notice is first given to animal control services.
7. If the dog dies, or is sold, transferred or permanently removed from the town of Yucca Valley, the owner or keeper shall notify the town's animal control services in writing of the changed circumstances and new location if applicable of the dog within two (2) working days of the change.
8. The dog shall be removed from the list of potentially dangerous dogs if there are no additional instances of behavior as defined in section 10.02.010 of this chapter within thirty six (36) months after designation. The dog may be removed earlier from the list of potentially dangerous dogs if animal control services determines that there have been sufficient changed circumstances so that the risk to public safety has been mitigated.
9. Upon completion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall issue a notice of determination within ten (10) days of the hearing, which notice of determination shall be final.
C. Vicious Dog: Any dog which has been determined to be vicious may be destroyed or maintained as follows:
1. A dog determined to be a vicious dog may be destroyed by animal control services when the hearing officer determines that the release of the dog would create a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.
2. If it is determined that a dog found to be vicious shall not be destroyed the dog may only be maintained under the following terms and conditions:
a. All vicious dogs shall be properly licensed and vaccinated, with the license being a conspicuously colored tag that shall be securely affixed to the dog.
b. Town of Yucca Valley animal control services shall include a designation of vicious in the registration records of such dog.
c. The owner or keeper shall pay an annual "vicious dog registration fee", in addition to the regular license fee as determined by resolution of the town council.
d. The owner shall, at his or her expense, have the vicious dog microchipped or tattooed with an identifying mark or number by a licensed veterinarian, and provide the dog's microchip number or tattoo number/mark and appropriate paperwork to animal control services.
e. The owner or keeper of a vicious dog shall, within five (5) days of such determination, make available said dog to animal control services and allow photographs of the dog to be taken for purposes of identification.
f. A vicious dog shall also be spayed or neutered, at the owner's expense, within thirty (30) days of such determination.
g. A vicious dog shall be confined in a secure "enclosure" as defined in this chapter.
h. The owner shall conspicuously display signs with words or symbols at least two inches (2") high warning of the presence of a vicious dog as approved by animal control services.
i. While off the owner's or keeper's property, a vicious dog shall at all times be restrained by a substantial leash that does not exceed six feet (6') in length, and held under the control of a responsible adult. The dog shall also wear a muzzle approved by the town of Yucca Valley animal control services.
j. Any person keeping or harboring any vicious dog within the town must provide proof of his/her ability to respond in damages to and including the amount of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) by obtaining a policy of insurance coverage in said amount for bodily injury to or death of any person or persons or for damage to property owned by any other person which may result from the ownership, keeping or maintenance of such animal. Proof of liability shall be given by filing with animal control services, in a form approved by the town attorney, a certificate of insurance issued by a solvent corporation authorized to issue bonds under the laws of the state. Such certificate of insurance or bond shall provide that no cancellation of the insurance or bonds will be made unless thirty (30) days written notice is first given to animal control services.
k. Animal control services is authorized to make inspections that they deem reasonably necessary to ensure compliance with these provisions.
l. Any registered vicious dog shall be immediately impounded by a town of Yucca Valley animal control officer if:
(1) The dog's registration is not properly maintained.
(2) Inspection by the animal control officer reveals that the dog is not maintained in the required enclosure.
(3) The dog is outside the dwelling, or the defined enclosure of the owner or keeper and not under the physical restraint and control of a responsible adult.
D. Destruction Of Vicious Dogs:
1. Any dog determined to be a vicious dog may be humanely destroyed by animal control services if it is found, after hearing procedures conducted in accordance with this chapter, that release of the dog would create a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.
E. Ordered Removal Of Potentially Dangerous Or Vicious Dog:
1. The animal control supervisor may order the immediate removal of any dog, by the owner or keeper of the dog(s) declared to be potentially dangerous or vicious from the town by a date certain if the owner or keeper:
a. Fails or refuses to comply with the determination notice set by the hearing officer within the time period specified within the notice;
b. Fails or refuses to reimburse any incurred costs within specified time on notice of determination; or
c. Violates any part provided on the determination order while in possession, control or custody of declared dog(s).
2. If the owner or keeper fails to remove the dog from the town by such date, animal control services may seize and impound the dog and not permit the reclaiming or redemption of the dog by the owner unless adequate arrangements acceptable to the animal control supervisor to ensure removal of such dog are made. Such arrangements shall be agreed to in writing between the owner and the animal control supervisor prior to and as such condition of release of the dog to its owner. If such agreement is not made and executed within five (5) days from the date of the agreement, then the dog(s) shall be immediately impounded and destroyed.
3. If the written agreement referred to in subsection B of this section is made and is subsequently breached by the owner, the animal control supervisor may immediately order that the dog(s) be impounded and destroyed.
4. Any person failing to comply with the hearing officer's order in this section may be prohibited from keeping or harboring within the town an animal of the type, species, group or family to which the order applies (including the dog initially declared potentially dangerous or vicious) for a period of three (3) years from the date of such noncompliance. There shall be no appeal to the hearing officer in these types of cases.
F. Authority To Seize Dog Posing Immediate Threat To Public Safety:
1. If upon investigation it is determined by the animal control officer that probable cause exists to believe the dog in question poses an immediate threat to public safety, and/or the owner or keeper is unwilling or unable to correct the situation immediately, then the animal control officer may seize and impound the dog pending a hearing to be held pursuant to this chapter. The dog shall be kept at an appropriate animal shelter designated by the town of Yucca Valley animal control services.
2. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be liable to the town of Yucca Valley for the costs of impounding and expenses of keeping the dog if the dog is later found to be potentially dangerous or vicious in accordance to this chapter.
3. Any dog held shall not be released, if found to be potentially dangerous or vicious, until the owner pays all charges due within ten (10) days of the determination made by the hearing entity. If the owner cannot pay these charges or refuses to pay within the required time period, then the dog shall be treated as unredeemed by the owner, and shall be humanely disposed of. Disposal of the dog does not release the owner from his or her responsibility to pay the imposed fees.
G. Conditions For Prohibiting Ownership Of A Dog:
1. The owner of a dog determined to be potentially dangerous or vicious may be prohibited by animal control services from owning, possessing, controlling, or having custody of any dog for a period of up to three (3) years, when it is found, after proceedings conducted in this chapter, that ownership or possession of a dog by that person would create a significant threat to the public health.
H. Penalties And Costs:
1. If dog is found to be potentially dangerous or vicious, the owner or keeper of the dog and/or property owner shall be personally liable and shall pay to the town of Yucca Valley all administrative costs as set by resolution of the town council, in addition to impounding costs, boarding costs and/or other related costs incurred.
2. If incurred costs are not paid within time specified in the determination notice, no permit and/or license for the dog shall be issued and/or any current license will be revoked. Then the animal may be considered abandoned and may be handled in the same manner as any other unclaimed stray animal.
3. In addition to the administrative proceedings under this section, the town may alternatively to or in conjunction with the proceedings set forth in this section commence a criminal action with respect to the nuisance in addition to, alternatively to, or in conjunction with the proceedings set forth in this section or pursue any and all other remedies legally available.
4. If any person shall violate any provisions in this section he or she may be fined an amount as set by the resolution of the town council.
5. No animal properly seized under this section shall be returned to the owner until, as determined by animal control, all requirements set by the hearing officer are met for the keeping and maintenance of the dog.
I. Failure To Conduct Administrative Hearing:
1. The failure or decision to not conduct an administrative hearing required by this section shall have no bearing on any criminal prosecution for violations of any provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 138, 5-15-2003)