More from the Annual Meeting
At the Annual Meeting, the issue of unleashed and aggressive dogs was brought up by a resident. The resident explained that are some areas around Oliver Lake where unleashed and unattended dogs are aggressively pursuing walkers. The resident inquired about any rules in our county which address this issue. To help respond to this question, some sections from the LaGrange County Animal Control Ordinance are printed below.
§ 1.002 DEFINITIONS
PUBLIC NUISANCE. Any animal which: (A) interferes with passersby or passing vehicles; (B) attacks other animals or persons; (C) trespasses on school grounds; (D) is repeatedly at large or unrestrained; or (E) damages private or public property.
§ 2.016 BITING ANIMALS; REPORT; PROCEDURE.
The responsible person for any animal which has bitten a person or another animal must report the incident to the Control Officer. Upon receiving the report of a bite, the Control Officer will quarantine the animal for ten (10) days with the place of confinement to be in the discretion of the Control Officer. During the quarantine period, the animal is to be securely confined and kept from contact with any other animal or person. Dogs shall be confined appropriately as directed by the Control Officer.
§ 2.019 NOISY DOGS
No responsible person shall allow the persistent or continuous barking, yelping, whining, growling or howling of one or more dogs, either individually or collectively.
§ 2.020 AT-RISK DOGS
An at-risk dog is one that (1) when off of the property of the owner and unprovoked, menaces, chases, displays threatening or aggressive behavior, or otherwise threatens or endangers the safety of any person; (2) while at large, menaces, attacks, or injures a domestic animal; (3) while at large, jumps on, chases, or bites a person causing a less than severe injury; or (4) unprovoked and absent extenuating circumstances, attacks a person, causing less than severe injury.
This subsection shall not apply to an injury caused to an individual who enters upon the property of another with the intent of partaking in criminal activity, or if the owner has posted the property with proper warnings.
(B) Procedure for classifying a dog as at risk: Upon filing of a complaint, the Control Officer shall investigate the circumstances and notify the dog owner of the charge if the dog is to be designated as at risk. If an owner desires to dispute the designation of “at risk,” he or she may do so by filing an appeal within ten (10) days with the Commissioners. A dog shall not be considered at risk where, in the final disposition of the case, the owner’s appeal of the at-risk designation is successful.
(C) Each owner of an at-risk dog must ensure that: (1) secure fencing has been provided to keep the dog confined on the owner’s property; (2) the dog, when off of the owner’s property, is kept on a secure leash of no more than four (4) feet in length and under the control of a legally responsible individual; (3) photos of the dog have been placed on file with the Control Officer; (4) the dog is microchipped for identification; (5) a sign, posted both in a prominent place on the property and on the pen or kennel of the dog, clearly announces the presence of the dog; and (6) a policy of liability insurance of at least One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) that insures the owner for any personal injuries inflicted by the dog has been acquired and that proof of such policy can be readily presented upon request.
§ 2.021 DANGEROUS DOGS
A dangerous dog is one that in the discretion of the Control Officer: (1) has been classified as at risk and exhibits escalating aggressive behavior that results in further complaints; (2) unprovoked and absent extenuating circumstances, has attacked and severely injured a person; (3) has killed a domestic animal while off of its owner’s property; or (4) is used to threaten people or domestic pets or is used as a weapon in the commission of a crime.
This subsection shall not apply to cases where the dog causes injury or damage in the defense of persons or property against an individual who reasonably appears to have the intent to partake in criminal activity or to cases involving a trespasser on an owner’s property where the owner has posted proper warnings.
Procedure for classifying a dog as dangerous: Upon filing of a complaint, the Control Officer shall investigate the circumstances and notify the dog owner of the charge if the dog is to be designated as dangerous. If an owner desires to dispute the designation of “dangerous,” he or she may do so by filing an appeal within ten (10) days with the Commissioners. Depending on the circumstances, the dog may be impounded pending disposition of the case. A dog shall not be considered dangerous where, in the final disposition of the case, the owner’s appeal of the “dangerous” designation is successful. A dog need not first be classified as at risk prior to being classified as dangerous.
Special rules for owning a dangerous dog: If impounded, a dangerous dog may be returned to the owner or may be destroyed depending on the outcome of the investigation. Each owner of a dog determined to be dangerous that is not destroyed must ensure that: (1) the dog is altered (either spayed or neutered); (2) the dog is microchipped; (3) the dog is confined in a locked pen when not in a home or other building, and restricted by a sturdy leash no longer than four (4) feet when in public; (4) the dog is in a pen built so that the dog cannot escape when penned; (5) photos of the dog have been filed with the Control Officer; and (6) a policy of liability insurance of at least One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) that insures the owner for any personal injuries inflicted by the dog has been acquired and that proof of such policy can be readily presented upon request.
Penalties for a dangerous dog running at large: LaGrange County has a no-tolerance policy towards dangerous dogs running at large. Therefore, the punishment will be severe, absent mitigating circumstances. (1) A dangerous dog that runs at large and exhibits threatening behavior may be impounded and/or euthanized at the owner’s expense. (2) A dangerous dog that runs at large that does not exhibit threatening behavior may be returned to its owner at the discretion of the Control Officer after reviewing the case and inspecting the confinement facility. In the event that any dog should attempt to attack an Officer attempting to enforce any portion of this ordinance, the Officer shall be authorized to destroy the dog at the site of attack and the owner shall have no redress for the destruction of the dog against the County or the Officer or any political subdivision thereof.
§ 3.004 VIOLATIONS
The Control Officer may determine that suspected violations of this ordinance will result in immediate impoundment of an animal. The LaGrange County Prosecutor, or an attorney or agency so appointed by the Commissioners, may prosecute violations of this ordinance. A person who violates this ordinance is liable for all costs and fees incurred, and fines assessed, as a result of each violation. The Court may find a separate violation for each day in which a violation has occurred as well as each individual violation of a different section of this ordinance within a given day. A person who violates this ordinance, either in separate sections or in subsequent violations of the same section, shall be fined as follows: (1) Fifty Dollars ($50.00) for the first offense. (2) One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for the second offense. (3) One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00) for the third offense. (4) Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for the fourth and each and every offense thereafter.
Each violation of this ordinance shall be cause for a separate and subsequently higher fine as described above. In order to determine whether a violation is a subsequent and therefore higher offense, the violation will be considered on a two- (2)-year rolling basis from the date of citation. If the Court finds that a violation has occurred, the Court may order permanent surrender of any animal deemed to be a public safety risk and/or a repetitive public nuisance that has not been abated or an animal that is a victim of cruelty, neglect, or abandonment, to the Control Officer for disposition. In the event that an animal is retained at the Animal Shelter because an owner has violated this ordinance, the person redeeming the animal by paying the prescribed fees shall also be subject to paying for the medical bills incurred for routine shots.