WAHOO – The determination of whether a dog is declared potentially dangerous or dangerous now rests with the chief of police rather than the Wahoo City Council
At the council’s meeting last Thursday, the members passed an ordinance that gives the police chief the authority to enforce the animal control laws of the city. The ordinance streamlines the procedure for dangerous or potentially dangerous dog declarations.
Under the previous process, the cases were brought to the city council for a public hearing after recommendation by the police department. But an increase in the number of public hearings over the past several months prompted the council to seek a less time-consuming solution.
Under the ordinance, a potentially dangerous animal is one that has inflicted injury on a human being that does not require medical treatment, injures a domestic animal (pet), chases someone on the streets, sidewalks or other public area in a menacing manner or has a tendency to attack when unprovoked.
A potentially dangerous designation is compared to a “first strike.” The animal’s owner does not have to take any other specific action other than keep another incident from happening.
The city’s ordinance defines a dangerous animal as one that has killed a domestic animal without provocation, killed a human being, inflicted injury on a human being that requires medical attention or has been previously declared potentially dangerous and inflicts injury on a human that does not require medical treatment, injures a domestic animal or threatens the safety of humans and other pets.
Once a dangerous dog designation has been made, the owner must provide proof of insurance and take other actions prescribed by the city code.
The amended ordinance originally included a provision for the animal’s owner to appeal the decision to the city’s board of adjustments within 30 days of the designation. Council members felt this could be a problem for the board, and would also be a financial obstacle for the animal owners.
The board of adjustments meets periodically, said Council Member Greg Kavan. If the number of meetings increases because of potentially dangerous and dangerous dog designation appeals, the city council may have a difficult time finding people to fill the board of adjustment positions, which are appointed by the council, he added.
Council Member Carl Warford said the $250 fee for a board of adjustment meeting would fall on the animal’s owner, which would be a financial burden.
Kavan suggested the appeals go to the city council instead. Police Chief Bruce Farrell said he was comfortable with that decision.
The ordinance was amended to make the suggested change. The council waived the required three readings and passed the ordinance.
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