Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

County closes in on regulating vicious dogs

October 12, 2006

A few questions answered, a few revisions made.

And perhaps in as soon as a few days, Leavenworth County will have a resolution that regulates vicious dogs in the county's unincorporated areas.

No members of the public attended a second public hearing on the resolution Thursday, Oct. 5, but county commissioners continued their march toward adoption of the regulations, written by County Counselor David Van Parys.

Commissioners agreed to defer adoption until Van Parys had the opportunity to incorporate several changes into the resolution.

"We'll wait on you to get us the final draft," Commission Chairman Dean Oroke told Van Parys.

The final draft to commissioners could be returned to commissioners in time for adoption as early as today, Oct. 12, Oroke said.

"We could have it in time for administrative business at 9:15 Thursday," he said.

The resolution, Van Parys explained last week, gives the owner of a vicious dog three strikes before the animal is put to death. Penalties increase as the number of attacks mount.

In the first instance of an attack, an animal control officer may take a dog into custody, and the animal will remain in custody until claimed by the owner. To win the dog's release, the owner will be required to pay a $25 registration fee to be renewed, a $100 pickup fee, costs associated with the dog's keeping, and the dog must be spayed or neutered. The owner also must attend a Humane Society-sanctioned class for the training and handling of vicious dogs.

Dog owners violating the resolution would be subject to criminal complaints and other civil actions as well.

At Thursday's meeting, commissioners instructed Van Parys to make several changes in the regulations. Among them:

¢ Requiring the owner of a dog deemed to be vicious after a first incident to obtain a minimum of $100,000 in liability insurance to cover any injury or damage caused by the dog. After a second attack by the dog on a person or property, the owner would be required to obtain a minimum of $250,000 in liability insurance.

"Dog bites can be very, very serious injuries, and treatment can be very expensive," Van Parys said in recommending the $100,000 and $250,000 insurance thresholds.

"You read my notes real well," Oroke told Van Parys.

¢ Requiring that vicious dogs be confined either indoors or in a secured enclosure that is designed to prevent escape. At the suggestion of Oroke and Commissioner Don Navinsky, commissioners directed that such an enclosure be made of 11-gauge wiring with a mesh opening of not less than 2 inches.

Commissioners also directed Van Parys to change the terms of what would be required of the animal's owner to fight having his or her dog euthanized.

As presented to commissioners, the resolution delayed euthanization until a third attack by a vicious dog occurred - and then only after the district court ruled such attacks occurred. Such a determination by the court didn't sit well with commissioners, especially after they were told the county would be responsible for paying for the upkeep of any dog seized while awaiting a euthanasia order.

During the course of their discussions, commissioners again reiterated a dog couldn't be deemed vicious for an attack while protecting its owners' property.

"When you were young, didn't you play games where you had a 'freebie'?" asked Commissioner Clyde Graeber. "That's what this is."

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