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Introduced Version House Bill 3080 History

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H. B. 3080

 

         (By Delegate Hunt (By Request))

         [Introduced February 9, 2011; referred to the

         Committee on Agriculture then the Judiciary.]

 

 

 

 

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated as §19-20C-1, §19-20C-2, §19-20C-3, §19-20C-4, §19-20C-5, §19-20C-6, §19-20C-7, §19-20C-8, §19-20C-9 and §19-20C-10, all relating to creating the Dangerous Dog Act, defining dangerous dogs, determining potentially dangerous dogs, providing county dog wardens with enforcement authority, setting forth the consequences of dangerous dog and potentially dangerous dog determinations, registering and handling requirements, setting forth the responsibilities of owners, providing exceptions, establishing criminal penalties and permitting county commissions to establish civil penalties and additional fees.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated as §19-20C-1, §19-20C-2, §19-20C-3, §19-20C-4, §19-20C-5, §19-20C-6, §19-20C-7, §19-20C-8, §19-20C-9 and §19-20C-10, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 20C. DANGEROUS DOG ACT.

§19-20C-1. Definitions.

    For the purposes of this article, these terms are defined as follows:

    (a) “Ownermeans any person age eighteen years or older or the guardian or parent of any person under the age of eighteen years, a partnership, a corporation or any entity owning, keeping, or harboring one or more animals

    (b) “Designeemeans an animal control officer, police officer, county dog warden or humane officer.

    (c) “Dangerous dog” includes any dog that:

    (1) Has, off its owner’s property, attacked another animal or livestock;

    (2) Has attacked, unprovoked, any human being, whether on or off the owner’s property;

    (3) Any breed of pit bull; or

    (4) Has bitten or attacked a person, causing wounds or serious injury creating a potential danger to the health and life of the victim;

    (5) This term does not include those animals which cause injury or damage to a person while that person is committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against the owner or agent of the owner:

    (A) Which cause injury or damage to a person while that person is committing a criminal trespass upon the premises occupied by the owner, agent, or keeper of the animal;

    (B) Which cause injury or damage to a person while that person is teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the animal, or;

    (C) That are certain breeds or types of dog.

    (d) “Potentially dangerous dog” means a dog that may reasonably be assumed by a qualified person to pose a threat to public safety as demonstrated by any of the following behaviors:

    (1) Attempting to bite, or biting and causing an injury to a person or domestic animal that is less severe than a serious injury; or

    (2) Has been found to be at large and been documented to be at large by an animal control officer, police officer, or any county dog warden or designee two or more times in a single calendar year;

    (e) “Serious injury” means any physical injury resulting in broken bones or lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery;

    (f) ”Approved enclosure” means secure confinement indoors or a secured facility by latch, bolt or lock and is a contained enclosure by wire (minimum of 11 gauge) kennel, six sided, of which one can be concrete or brick floor with sides will be embedded not less than two feet in the ground, and a roof of either wood or wire of the same gauge, constructed so that an animal cannot escape. The enclosure shall measure at least six feet in width or four times the length of the dog, by twelve feet, or eight times the length of the dog, in length, and six feet in height from ground surface to top, and provided further, that within the confines of the enclosure for necessary sustenance and shelter shall be provided.

    (g) “Impound” means taken into custody by the county dog warden pursuant to section eight, article twenty of this chapter.

    (h) “Rabies vaccination” means the injection by a licensed veterinarian of a dog or other animal with a rabies vaccine licensed by the USDA and approved by the West Virginia State Board of Health according to the Compendium for Rabies published yearly.

    (i) “Microchip” means a computer chip, implanted underneath the skin of an animal (in the universal position between the scapulas), which contains information relating to that animal.

    (j) “Leashmeans a cord, chain, rope, strap or other such physical restraint designed specifically for leading a dog or pet while securely attached to a collar, harness or halter.

    (k) “Muzzlemeans a device constructed of a strong, soft material or metal, designed to fasten over the mouth of an animal, without interfering with its vision or respiration or causing injury to the animal, to prevent the animal from biting any person or other animal.

    (l) “Liability insurance” means a $100,000 liability insurance policy purchased by the dog owner to insure such owner or keeper against any claim, loss, damage or injury to person, domestic animals or property resulting from acts, whether intentional or unintentional.

    (m) “Off property” means beyond the legal boundaries of the real property on which the owner, agent, or keeper resides.

    (n) “Provokedmeans to deliberately arouse, incite or excite.

§19-20C-2. Determination of a potentially dangerous dog.

    (a) After an investigation, which must be initiated within five days after an incident becomes known to the county dog warden or his or her designee, and based on the factors listed in subsection (d), section one of this article, the owner of the dog shall be notified in writing by certified mail or hand delivery with signature of the determination within five days after completion of the investigation.

    (b) Following notice to the owner, if the county dog warden or his or her designee has probable cause to believe that a dog is a potentially dangerous dog and may pose a threat to public safety, the county dog warden may obtain a warrant and impound the dog pending disposition of the case or until the dog owner has fulfilled the requirements of section four of this article. The owner of the dog is liable for the costs and expenses of impounding the dog.

    (c) Upon notice, the owner may, within five business days after a determination, bring a petition in the circuit court seeking review of such designation; during such review the owner may chose to keep the dog in quarantine at his or her home after paying a refundable $200 surety bond to the county dog warden. A decision overturning the determination does not affect the county dog warden’s right to later declare a dog to be potentially dangerous or dangerous for the dog’s subsequent behavior.

§19-20C-3. Consequences of a potentially dangerous dog determination.

    (a) If the county dog warden or his or her designee determines that a dog is a potentially dangerous dog pursuant to section two of this article, the owner must comply with section four of this article and any other special security or care requirements the county dog warden or his or her designee has established and have been approved by the county commission.

    (b) The county dog warden or his or her designee may require impoundment of the dog after the required ten-day quarantine and all requests for review have been exhausted by the owner, until such owner has satisfied all the requirements of the certificate of registration permit. The requirements must be met within thirty days of final determination. If, after such period, the owner has not satisfied all the requirements of the registration permit, the animal may be humanely destroyed on the thirty-first day of impoundment.

§19-20C-4. Potentially dangerous dog registration and handling requirements.

    (a) The county dog warden or his or her designee shall issue a certificate of registration to the owner of a potentially dangerous dog if the owner establishes to the satisfaction of the county dog warden or his or her designee that:

    (1) The owner of a potentially dangerous dog is eighteen years of age or older;

    (2) A valid license has been issued for the potentially dangerous dog pursuant to state law;

    (3) The potentially dangerous dog has a current rabies vaccination certificate;

    (4) The potentially dangerous dog has been implanted with a microchip containing owner identification information;

    (5) The potentially dangerous dog and its owner has entered into a socialization, behavior, or obedience training program approved or offered by the county dog warden or his or her designee; and

    (6) The owner provides a certification of liability insurance to the county dog warden or his or her designee, and shall submit renewed certificates to prove coverage is maintained throughout the lifetime of the dog or until potential dangerous dog designation may be rescinded;

    (b) If any dog deemed to be potentially dangerous does not exhibit any further dangerous behaviors within the thirty-six months following the county dog warden or his or her designee’s determination, the dog is eligible for a review of such designation by the county dog warden or his or her designee. At the conclusion of such period, the county dog warden or his or her designee has the authority to rescind the designation of a potentially dangerous dog. However, that dog may again be determined to be a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog.

§19-20C-5. Determination of a dangerous dog.

    (a) After an investigation, which must be initiated within five days after an incident becomes known to the county dog warden or his or her designee, and based on the factors identified in subsection (c), section one of this article, the owner of the dog shall be notified in writing by certified mail or hand delivery of the determination within five days after completion of the investigation.

    (b) Following notice to the owner, if the county dog warden or his or her designee has probable cause to believe that a dog is a dangerous dog and may pose a threat to public safety, the county dog warden or his or her designee may obtain a warrant in order to impound the dog pending disposition of the case or until the dog owner has fulfilled the requirements of sections six and seven of this article. The owner of the dog is liable to the dog warden for the costs and expenses of impounding the dog.

    (c) Upon notice, the owner may, within five business days after a determination, file a petition in the circuit court seeking review of such designation. A decision overturning the determination does not affect the county dog warden or his or her designee’s ability to later declare a dog to be potentially dangerous or dangerous for the dog’s subsequent behavior.

§19-20C-6. Consequences of a dangerous dog.

    (a) If the county dog warden or his or her designee determines that a dog is a dangerous dog pursuant to section five of this article, the owner must comply with section seven of this article and any other special security or care requirements established by the county dog warden or his or her designee and approved and enacted by the county commission.

    (b) The county dog warden or his or her designee may require impoundment of the dog after the required ten-day quarantine and all requests for review have been exhausted by the owner, until such owner has satisfied all the requirements of the certificate of registration permit. The requirements must be met within thirty days of final determination. If, after such period, the owner has not satisfied all the requirements of the registration permit, the animal may be humanely destroyed on the thirty-first day of impoundment.

§19-20C-7. Dangerous dog registration and handling.

    (a) The county dog warden or his or her designee shall issue a certificate of registration to the owner of a dangerous dog if the owner establishes to the satisfaction of the county dog warden or his or her designee that:

    (1) The owner of a dangerous dog is eighteen years of age or older;

    (2) A valid license has been issued for the dangerous dog pursuant to state law;

    (3) The owner has paid to the county dog warden or his or her designee an annual fee of $15 in addition to the regular dog licensing fees, so as to register the dangerous dog;

    (4) The dangerous dog has a current rabies vaccination certificate;

    (5) The dangerous dog has been implanted with a microchip containing owner identification information;

    (6) The dangerous dog has been spayed or neutered by a state licensed veterinarian and certificate of proof is provided to the county dog warden or his or her designee that contains a physical description of the dangerous dog;

    (7) The dangerous dog and its owner has entered into a socialization, behavior, or obedience training program approved or offered by the county dog warden or his or her designee; and

    (8) The owner provides a certification of liability insurance to the county dog warden or his or her designee, and shall submit renewed certificates to prove coverage is maintained throughout the lifetime of the dog. If ownership is transferred, liability coverage must be continued by the new owner;

    (b) The county dog warden or his or her designee shall issue a certificate of registration to the owner of a dangerous dog if the owner, in addition to satisfying the requirements for registering a dangerous dog, establishes to the satisfaction of the county dog warden or his or her designee, that:

    (1) Proper signage has been posted at the entry of the owner’s property and upon the gate or door of the approved enclosure warning visitors and children of the presence of the dangerous dog;

    (2) The owner has installed an approved enclosure that meets the requirements as described in subsection (f), section one of this article;

    (3) The owner shall keep and maintain the dangerous dog exclusively on the owner’s property except for medical treatment or approved training; and

    (4) Handles the dog when out of such enclosure with a muzzle and leash.

    (c) If an owner of a dangerous dog fails to abide by the requirements of this article for registration, confinement or handling, the county dog warden or his or her designee may order the immediate impoundment of a dog previously deemed dangerous.

§19-20C-8. Owner responsibility for keeping/harboring a dangerous dog.

    It is unlawful to:

    (a) Keep a dog determined to be dangerous without a valid certificate or registration pursuant to section seven of this article;

    (b) Permit a dangerous dog to be outside an approved enclosure unless the dog is: (1) Under the direct control of a responsible person of eighteen years of age or older; and (2) is properly muzzled and restrained by a leash;

    (c) Fail to provide required sustenance, shelter and sanitary upkeep of a dangerous dog approved enclosure;

    (d) Remove a dangerous dog from the owner’s property unless: (1) The dog is caged, crated, or controlled by a responsible person of eighteen years of age or older; and (2) the dog is properly muzzled and restrained by a leash;

    (e) Fail to notify the county dog warden or his or her designee immediately if the dangerous dog escapes, is unconfined, at-large, has injured another domestic animal outside of the dangerous dogs approved enclosure or has caused injury to a human being;

    (f) Fail to notify the county dog warden within five business days if the dangerous dog has died;

    (g) Fail to notify the county dog warden or his or her designee within twenty-four hours if the dangerous dog is sold, given away or placed into another person’s care, and provide to the county dog warden the name, address and telephone number of the new owner or custodian of the dangerous dog;

    (h) Fail to surrender a dangerous dog to the county dog warden or his or her designee for safe confinement pending outcome of an investigation when there is a reason to believe that the dangerous dog poses an imminent threat to public safety; or

    (i) Fail to comply with any special security or care requirements for a dangerous dog established by the county dog warden or his or her designee and by the county commission.

§19-20C-9. Exceptions.

    A dog may not be declared a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog based solely on:

    (a) The breed or type of dog;

    (b) The dog was used by a law-enforcement official for legitimate law enforcement purposes;

    (c) The threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person: (1) Who was committing, at the time, willful trespass or other wrongful or criminal act upon the premises lawfully occupied by the owner of the dog;

    (2) Who was provoking, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog or who can be shown to have repeatedly, in the past, provoked, tormented, abused or assaulted the dog; or

    (3) Who was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

    (d) The dog was trained, enticed, commanded or provoked by a victim of the attack to attack that victim.

    (e) The dog was:

    (1) Responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its offspring or;

    (2) Protecting or defending a human being within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an attack or assault.

§19-20C-10. Penalties.

    (a) Any owner of a dog deemed dangerous by the county dog warden or his or her designee that fails to comply with the requirements of sections three and six of this article is guilty of a misdemeanor and, shall: (1) Forfeit the dog to the county dog warden or his or her designee for humane euthanizing upon the thirty-first day of impoundment; (2) pay a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $2,500, confined in jail for not more than sixty days, or both fined and confined; and (3) be prohibited from owning any dog for a period of not less than seven years.

    (b) An owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog who violates the provisions of sections four, seven or eight of this article is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction for a first offense, shall be: (1) Fined not more than $2,500, confined in jail not more than six months, or both fined and confined. For second and subsequent convictions the owner shall be fined not more than $5,000, confined not more than one year, or both fined and confined; and (3) prohibited from owning any dog for a period of not less than seven years.

    (c) An owner of a dangerous dog that causes serious injury to or kills a human being without provocation shall be fined up to $10,000.

    (d) The county commission may also establish civil penalties and additional fees in addition to fees and penalties established by this article.

 

 

    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to permit the regulation by counties of dangerous dogs and potentially dangerous dogs. The bill defines terms and sets forth how potentially dangerous dogs and dangerous dogs are determined. The bill also provides consequences of dogs being determined to be dangerous or potentially dangerous. The bill establishes registration and handling requirements for a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog. Also, the bill sets forth the responsibilities of owners of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs. Additionally, the bill sets forth exemptions, establishes criminal penalties and permits county commissions to establish additional civil penalties.

 

    This article is new; therefore, it has been completely underscored.

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