Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

City laws already address vicious dogs

August 30, 2006

With publicity surrounding vicious dogs in the metro area, Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez recently reminded city council members about the laws Tonganoxie already has in place regarding vicious dogs.

"I just wanted to let the city council know that we already have laws on the books," Yanez said.

City law says all vicious dogs --those that have bitten any human without provocation in the past 12 months -- must be chained and confined behind a fence. A sign that is at least 12-by-12 inches with 3-inch letters warning of the dog's disposition also must be posted on the place of confinement.

Pit bulls, any other bull terrier or mixed breed containing bull terrier as well as Rottweilers and mixed breeds containing Rottweiler are prohibited in the city limits.

"We do proceed with enforcement," Yanez said. "We also want any pit bull owner in Kansas City to know that they can't just make a happy home in Tonganoxie."

Six pit bulls recently were removed from Basehor because the owners did not follow the city's vicious dog ordinance.

Basehor residents are permitted to have pit bulls and other bull terriers, along with Rottweiler and any wolf-hybrid dogs if they maintain an insurance policy of $200,000 and can show proof of this policy.

"Lately, we've had some issues with our ordinance," Basehor Police Chief Terry Horner said. "We were able to locate six pit bulls within the city of Basehor and request those individuals to carry the $200,000 insurance policy. Those dogs are no longer in the city."

This policy applies to other vicious dogs, which are not of these breeds. Other requirements of vicious dogs as well as these specific breeds in Basehor include leashing and muzzling the dogs when they are not indoors or in a locked kennel or pen, displaying a "Beware of Dog" sign prominently and registering the dog with the city clerk.

Owners of the specific breeds also must notify the city clerk of address changes, death or removal of the registered dog or birth of offspring from the registered dog. Offspring born of these specific breeds must be removed from the city within six weeks of birth. Owners also are prohibited from selling or disposing of these dogs in the city.

Violations of the ordinance will result in seizure of the animal, a misdemeanor and monetary fines. A jail sentence of up to six months is also possible.

In Linwood, animal control officer Bruce Reed said the city has had little trouble with vicious dogs.

"We haven't had the problems that the big cities have," he said.

Reed said the city has prohibited pit bulls, wolf-hybrid dogs and any other vicious dogs since the early 1970s. And Reed said he regularly patrols looking for dogs in violation of the city's animal control law.

In Lansing, officials last week issued a news release reminding residents of the city's vicious dog ordinance, which is not breed-specific.

The ordinance defines a vicious dog as "any dog which by virtue of its breed, training, characteristics, behavior or other factors the owner or custodian thereof knows or has reason to know has a propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of human beings, domestic pets or livestock."

Owners of vicious dogs in Lansing are required to maintain an insurance policy of not less than $200,000 per incident against any claim, loss, damage or injury to any human being, any property, domestic pet or livestock resulting from the dog's acts.

In addition, owners of vicious dogs must comply with leash, muzzle, signage and registration restrictions.

The city of Leavenworth also has a vicious dog ordinance that is not breed-specific. It defines a vicious dog as one that makes an unprovoked attack on a person or animal.

The Leavenworth law requires owners of vicious dogs to register with the city and maintain a liability insurance policy of at least $50,000 on the dog. Such dogs must be confined. The animal's owner or keeper also must have a "Beware of Dog" sign displayed on their premises and on the dog's pen or kennel.

Dog owners who violate the ordinance are subject to fines and jail time, and a vicious dog can be put to death if the municipal judge finds it necessary.

-- John Taylor (jtaylor@theworldco.info) contributed to this story.

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