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Animal ordinance to include dangerous dog provisions

By Melissa Crowe
July 16, 2012 at 2:16 a.m.
Updated July 17, 2012 at 2:17 a.m.


WHAT IS A DANGEROUS DOG?

• Attacks unprovoked a person that causes bodily injury and occurs in a place other than the animal's enclosure that was reasonably certain to prevent it from escaping

• Commits unprovoked acts in a place other than its enclosure, which was reasonably certain to prevent it from escaping, and those acts cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.

Source: Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 822.041

Victoria County's animal ordinance soon could have some bite.

Commissioners are expected to vote Monday on an ordinance that would update the existing rules that regulate possible action for dealing with dangerous dogs.

Jim Allison, general counsel for the County Judges & Commissioners Association of Texas, presented the ordinance.

"Do I think it will completely solve the dog problem? No," he said. "I think it will reduce repeat attacks and provide you with an effective means for dealing with that."

Under the new ordinance, any dog deemed dangerous can be ordered to be humanely euthanized or subjected to a lengthy list of requirements.

If the animal is not to be euthanized, the animal must be microchipped, leashed, muzzled when not secured, confined, insured for $100,000 and must wear a tag identifying it as a "dangerous dog."

Simply being tethered does not count as confined.

"A chain is not an enclosure," Allison said. "You can't do that and blame a child who comes in that property."

In March, a 4-year-old boy wandered away from his home in the 1100 block of Old Goliad Road. His body was found about a quarter-mile away in the backyard of a neighbor's home. Several dogs were in the enclosure but one, a tethered pit bull, was suspected of killing him.

The boy's father is facing three indictments, including negligent homicide.

Under the ordinance, a person commits a Class C misdemeanor if they are the owner of a dangerous dog and the animal makes an unprovoked attack on another person outside the dog's enclosure and causes bodily injury.

According to the Texas Health and Safety Code, counties can pass additional requirements or restrictions on dangerous dogs so long as they are not specific to one breed or several breeds of dogs and are more stringent than the state's requirements.

Bain Cate, executive director of the Victoria City-County Health Department, said he supports approval of the ordinance. but wanted it rolled in with existing ordinances.

"I think we can enforce it, no problem," he said.

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