Chapter 7.08
DOG CONTROL

Sections:

7.08.010    License – Required.

7.08.020    License – Fees – Renewal.

7.08.030    License – Tag – Replacement fee.

7.08.040    License – Transfer of ownership.

7.08.050    License violation – Notice in lieu of citation.

7.08.060    Impoundment procedure – Generally.

7.08.070    Impoundment – Entry of premises.

7.08.080    Impoundment – Fees.

7.08.090    Impoundment – Redemption – Disposition.

7.08.100    Control of rabid or potentially rabid dogs.

7.08.110    Infractions – Penalty.

7.08.120    Misdemeanors – Penalty.

7.08.130    Potentially dangerous or dangerous dog – Declaration.

7.08.140    Potentially dangerous or dangerous dog declaration – Appeal.

7.08.150    Potentially dangerous dog – Restrictions – Violation.

7.08.160    Potentially dangerous or dangerous dog – Disposition hearing.

7.08.170    Dangerous dogs – Restrictions – Violation.

7.08.180    Exemption.

7.08.010 License – Required.

A. 1. Dogs over four months of age that are kept or harbored within the city are required to have a license.

2. Before a license is issued for any dog, the owner must certify under penalty of perjury that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. A certification of vaccination signed by an accredited veterinarian, and showing that the vaccination does not expire prior to the expiration date of the license, must be provided upon request.

B. Licenses and license renewals may be obtained from the Bellingham-Whatcom County humane society or one of its properly licensed agencies.

C. Pet shops, veterinarians, kennels, pet grooming businesses and pet supply stores may, at the discretion of the Bellingham-Whatcom County humane society, obtain permission to operate a dog licensing agency. Such agencies may retain $1.00 of the license fee per license or renewal processed. The remainder of all fees collected shall be remitted to the humane society, along with a completed licensing form for each dog.

D. Dangerous, potentially dangerous, hybrids, wolves, guard and attack dogs shall be licensed or registered solely by the Bellingham-Whatcom County humane society. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.020 License – Fees – Renewal.

A. The annual license fee for each unsterilized male or female dog over three months of age is $41.00.

B. The annual license fee for sterilized dogs is $11.00.

C. All new dog licenses shall be valid for one year from date of purchase. Renewal licenses shall be due on the last day of the twelfth month following the date of purchase of the previous license.

D. Any person failing to obtain or to renew a license within 30 days of the date the license is first required or expired, shall be assessed a late fee of $10.00.

E. Any low-income senior citizen or disabled citizen who is eligible for reduced fees in accordance with regulations established by the finance director, may apply for and be issued a discounted license for one dog, said license to be issued upon payment of the annual license fee for the current year, and thereafter renewable at no further cost so long as that particular dog remains the pet of the individual obtaining such license.

F. One dollar from each license fee paid to the animal control authority shall be placed into an animal population control fund to subsidize sterilization surgeries for the pets of low-income city residents and for public education programs promoting animal sterilization. The animal population control fund shall be administered by the animal control authority. [Ord. 2002-07-056 § 1; Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.030 License – Tag – Replacement fee.

A. Each licensed dog shall be provided by the owner or keeper with a suitable collar which shall be worn by the animal at all times when not upon the premises of its owner or keeper. A license tag provided by the humane society for the current licensing year shall be affixed to the collar. The tag shall be so affixed as to hang and be visible to a person of normal vision for not less than 10 feet. Tags may be temporarily removed during officially sanctioned dog training, dog shows and dog matches. The tag shall be in the immediate possession of the dog handler.

B. Replacement license tags may be obtained by a payment of a fee of $2.00 to the licensing agency. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.040 License – Transfer of ownership.

Whenever the ownership of a dog changes, the new owner shall notify the licensing agency within 30 days and shall pay a fee of $2.00, whereupon the licensing agent shall change the records and the previously issued license shall remain valid for the remainder of the license year. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.050 License violation – Notice in lieu of citation.

Where a violation of the license requirement of BMC 7.08.010 is observed, the animal control officer may issue a violation notice in lieu of a uniform citation. The notice shall stipulate a compliance date, an associated fee, and late fee, as well as a waiver provision providing that the person to whom the violation notice is issued waives all rights to protest such violation. All fees shall be paid to the Bellingham-Whatcom County humane society. Failure to pay fees and failure to waive rights by the compliance date may result in the issuance of a citation. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.060 Impoundment procedure – Generally.

A. Dogs may be taken into the care and custody of the animal control authority in any of the following situations:

1. When a dog is off the premises of its owner or keeper and not under the control of its owner, keeper or other authorized person. This prohibition shall not apply to areas designated by the city for off leash training or exercise;

2. If the dog is an adult dog, it has no current license tag, and is not in the presence of its owner, keeper or other authorized person;

3. If any dog is on public property or the private property of another and the caretaker or said private property owner requests in writing that the dog be removed; provided, that the owner or keeper of the dog(s) cannot be located in a timely manner or is unknown. Such written request shall state the reason why removal is requested;

4. When a dog is brought to the animal shelter by a private citizen who has found the dog;

5. When a dog has been declared potentially dangerous or dangerous pursuant to this chapter and/or state law, and the dog is again at large, or has otherwise violated the restrictions placed upon it;

6. When any dog has been subjected to cruel treatment as defined by RCW 16.52.070 and/or the provisions of this title; provided, that removal is necessary for the immediate safety and well being of the animal;

7. When the dog’s owner or keeper is incapable or unable to continue to care for it because of incarceration, severe illness, death, house fire or other emergency circumstances and an agent for the owner cannot be readily located;

8. When a dog has bitten a person, breaking or puncturing the skin, and the owner and/or keeper is unable, incapable or unwilling to provide the 10-day quarantine requirements. If such a dog is found at large the owner will be deemed unable to quarantine and it can be impounded.

B. Forthwith, following impoundment, the animal control authority shall notify the owner or keeper, if known, of its impoundment, using whatever reasonable means possible. If the dog’s owner is unknown or cannot be located, the information and description of the animal shall be available at the animal shelter during regular business hours.

C. All owners or keepers claiming impounded animals of any kind shall provide identification and shall sign a statement that verifies they are the owner, keeper or authorized agent of the owner. Names, street or road addresses, city and phone numbers will be required. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.070 Impoundment – Entry of premises.

An animal control officer in hot pursuit of a dog known to be a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog or reasonably suspected of being dangerous to persons other than wrongful trespassers upon his owner’s premises may enter the premises of the owner and demand possession of such animal and if, after request therefor, the owner or keeper of the dog shall refuse to deliver the dog to the officer and the officer cannot with reasonable safety catch the animal, he may then obtain a search warrant authorizing the seizure and impoundment of the dog; the officer shall not enter the residence of the owner without permission or a warrant. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.080 Impoundment – Fees.

A. For every dog impounded pursuant to this chapter, there shall be paid to the animal control authority, by any person desiring to redeem such animal, the total of the following fees before the dog is released from impoundment:

1. A fee of $40.00 for the first impoundment in any 12-month period;

2. A fee of $60.00 for the second impoundment in any 12-month period;

3. A fee of $80.00 for the third impoundment in any 12-month period;

4. A fee of $150.00 for the fourth and any subsequent impoundment in any 12-month period;

5. For a dog over three months of age that is unsterilized, the fee shall be increased by an additional $20.00. Upon the first impoundment in a 12-month period of an unsterilized dog, the owner shall be charged the fee for a sterilized dog if the owner agrees that the dog be sterilized prior to its redemption. For a dog over three months of age that is not wearing a valid license at the time it is impounded, the fee shall be increased by an additional $20.00. In addition, a current dog license must be obtained before a dog over three months of age is released.

B. In addition to the impoundment fee, the animal control authority may require payment of a reasonable amount per day per dog for costs of boarding. This amount shall be set in accordance with the boarding fee provided in the contract between the city of Bellingham and the animal control authority and shall be paid prior to the release of the animal.

C. Fees provided for in this section can be waived or reduced at the discretion of the director of the animal control authority, if it can be determined that the owner did not otherwise violate the terms of this chapter. [Ord. 2002-07-056 § 2; Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.090 Impoundment – Redemption – Disposition.

A. Redemption of Dog by Owner.

1. Unless otherwise provided in this chapter, the owner of an impounded dog may claim the same at any time prior to sale or disposal by the humane society and shall be entitled to possession thereof upon payment of all legal charges and expenses incidental to the impoundment, boarding, and keeping of the dog.

2. Any unaltered dog impounded more than once within a 12-month period shall be spayed or neutered by the animal control authority prior to the release of the dog. The cost of the spay or neuter shall be charged to the owner, who shall pay the charge prior to redeeming the dog.

3. The owner of an unaltered dog that has been impounded more than once within a 12-month period may, within 72 hours of impoundment, request a hearing before the animal control authority. If, after consideration of all relevant evidence, the animal control authority determines that the owner has shown good cause to excuse the circumstances leading to the impoundment of the dog, the dog may be released without being subject to the spaying or neutering requirements of subsection (A)(2) of this section. If good cause is found, the animal control authority may, however, condition the return of the dog in an unaltered state upon the owner’s fulfillment of reasonable conditions designed to avert future incidents. The owner may, upon written notice given to the animal control authority and the hearing examiner within 72 hours of the animal control authority’s decision, appeal the animal control authority’s decision to the city’s hearing examiner, whose review shall be limited to whether the animal control authority’s decision was arbitrary or capricious. The filing of a request for hearing or appeal, upon notice to the animal control authority, shall stay the 72-hour redemption period of subsection (B) of this section until the completion of the hearing or appeal.

B. Disposition of Dogs. Any dog not redeemed by its owner within 72 hours of the impoundment, not including Sundays or legal holidays, may be humanely destroyed by an approved method, or may be placed for adoption with a new owner; provided, that the new owner agrees in writing to surgically sterilize the dog within one month of maturity; agrees that the dog will not be used, sold, or donated for experimental purposes, and provides proper licensing.

C. Disposition of Sick or Injured Dog. When in the judgment of a licensed veterinarian or the animal control authority, a dog that has been impounded should be destroyed for humane reasons, the dog may be destroyed before the expiration of the required holding period. Such cases must be documented in writing by the humane society. [Ord. 2002-03-020; Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.100 Control of rabid or potentially rabid dogs.

A. A dog which may transmit disease through its bite, which bites and breaks the skin of any person, shall be quarantined for a 10-day period to determine if the animal is infected with a disease. The place of quarantine shall be established by the animal control authority, and the animal control authority may, in its discretion, allow the owner and/or keeper of the animal to maintain the quarantine.

B. Quarantine Procedure.

1. Any dog that has bitten a human and broken the skin, regardless of provocation or previous inoculation for diseases, shall be contained for a period of not less than 10 days, in such a manner that it is segregated from any other animals and the possibility of coming into contact with other animals and humans except for the caretaker.

2. If the owner and/or keeper is unable or unwilling to confine the dog, or if the animal control authority determines from the prior history of the dog that confinement is not likely, the dog may be quarantined at the animal shelter or a veterinarian and/or boarding kennel of the owner’s choice; provided, that the costs to board the dog shall be borne by the owner if in a location other than the owner’s residence.

3. Should the dog during the observation period manifest any unusual behavior or develop symptoms of illness or die, the owner or veterinarian shall immediately notify the animal control authority or the health department of that condition.

C. In all cases where any dog which has bitten a person or caused an abrasion or puncture of the skin, is slain by any person or dies by other means, and a period of 10 days has not elapsed since the day of the bite, it shall be the duty of any person slaying such animal or other owner to forthwith deliver intact the head of such animal to the county health officer. The animal control authority shall be notified in such cases.

D. It shall be the duty of every medical doctor, hospital, or other applicable health official to report all dog bites that break the skin, regardless of provocation factors or previous inoculations record of the animal. Such report shall be made to the animal control authority, as promptly as possible so that quarantine procedures can be instituted in a timely fashion. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.110 Infractions – Penalty.

A violation of any of the following provisions shall constitute an infraction and shall subject the violator to a fine not to exceed $250.00:

A. It is unlawful to keep or harbor a dog over four months of age within the city unless a dog license has been procured from the city.

B. It is unlawful for any person other than the owner, his agent, or a city official to remove the license tag from any dog.

C. It is unlawful for the owner of any dog to cause, permit, or allow such dog to roam, run, stray, or to be away from the premises of such owner unless the dog is “under control” as defined in BMC 7.04.030.

D. It is unlawful for the owner or handler of any dog to fail to remove fecal matter deposited by their animal on public property or public easement before the owner leaves the immediate area where the fecal matter was deposited.

E. It is unlawful for the owner or handler of any dog to fail to have in their possession the equipment necessary to remove their dog’s fecal matter when accompanied by said dog on public property or public easement.

F. It is unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to permit such dog to enter a place where food is stored, prepared, served or sold to the public, provided this section shall not apply to dogs trained to aid the handicapped.

G. It is unlawful to harbor or keep a dog which by frequent or habitual howls, barks, or other loud noises, unreasonably annoys or disturbs another resident in the immediate neighborhood.

H. It is unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to allow such dog to chase cars, motorcycles, bicycles, or any other vehicle. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.120 Misdemeanors – Penalty.

Any violation of the following provisions shall constitute a misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not to exceed 90 days:

A. It is unlawful for any person to prevent, obstruct, or hinder the impoundment of a dog or any other enforcement duties of officers pursuant to this chapter.

B. It is unlawful for an owner or keeper to refuse to quarantine or permit the quarantine of any dog when and as required by state law and this chapter.

C. It is unlawful for the owner of any dog, when notified that such dog has bitten any person or has so injured any person as to cause abrasion or puncture of the skin and is subject to quarantine, to sell, kill, or give away such dog to be taken beyond the city limits, except to a veterinary hospital.

D. It is unlawful for the owner of any dog who has bitten any person or has so injured any person as to cause abrasion or puncture of the skin, to fail to notify the humane society of the bite and the location of the dog immediately upon knowledge of the incident. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.130 Potentially dangerous or dangerous dog – Declaration.

A. The animal control officer may find and declare a dog potentially dangerous or dangerous if the officer has probable cause to believe that the dog falls within the definition of “dangerous dog” or “potentially dangerous dog” set forth in BMC 7.04.030. The finding must be based upon:

1. The written complaint of a citizen who is willing to testify that the animal has acted in a manner which causes it to fall within the definition of “dangerous dog” or “potentially dangerous dog” in BMC 7.04.030; or

2. Dog bite reports filed with the animal control officer as required by city ordinance or state law; or

3. Actions of the dog witnessed by any animal control officer or law enforcement officer; or

4. Other substantial evidence admissible in the municipal court.

B. The declaration shall be in writing, and shall be served by the animal control officer on the owner or keeper in one of the following methods:

1. Certified mail to the owner or keeper’s last known address; or

2. Personally; or

3. If the owner or keeper cannot be located by one of the first two methods, by publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

C. The declaration shall contain the following information:

1. Name and address of the owner or keeper of the dog.

2. A description of the dog.

3. Whereabouts of the dog.

4. Facts upon which the declaration is based.

5. Restrictions placed upon the dog.

6. Penalties for violation of the restrictions, including possibility of destruction of the animal and fine and/or imprisonment of owner or keeper pursuant to BMC 7.08.150(B).

7. Availability of a hearing to contest the declaration by submitting a written request to the municipal court clerk within five business days of receipt of the declaration.

D. Dogs shall not be declared dangerous if the threat, injury, or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the owner of the dog, or was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or has, in the past, been observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the dog or was committing or attempting to commit a crime. [Ord. 2002-03-021; Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.140 Potentially dangerous or dangerous dog declaration – Appeal.

A. If the owner or keeper of the dog wishes to object to the declaration of potentially dangerous or dangerous dog, the owner or keeper may request a hearing before the municipal court judge by submitting a written request to the clerk of the court.

B. The written request for a hearing must be filed within five business days of receipt of the declaration, or within five business days of publication and shall contain the following:

1. A brief statement that protests the action and gives reasons it should be reversed or modified; and

2. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses who will appear on the dog owner’s behalf; and

3. Current day phone number where owner or keeper can be contacted.

C. If the owner or keeper does not file a timely written request for hearing, the restrictions imposed in connection with the declaration shall remain in effect for the life of the animal, unless sooner lifted by the humane society action or a court of competent jurisdiction.

D. The municipal court, upon receipt of the request, will set a hearing date and send notice to the parties. It shall be the responsibility of the parties to notify witnesses of the hearing date. If the appellant or his/her representative fails to appear for the hearing, except for a verifiable emergency, the declaration stands.

E. At the hearing, it shall be the burden of the humane society to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the dog is a “potentially dangerous dog” as defined in BMC 7.04.030, or a “dangerous dog” as defined in BMC 7.04.030.

F. Following the hearing, if the court finds a preponderance of evidence to support the declaration, it shall uphold the declaration, impose court costs not to exceed $200.00 on the appellant, and may impose additional restrictions on the dog; if the court finds insufficient evidence to support the declaration, it shall be rescinded and the restrictions annulled.

G. Following service of a declaration of potentially dangerous dog, and pending any appeals, the animal control officer may, if circumstances require, seize and impound the dog at the owner’s or keeper’s expense as provided in BMC 7.08.080, until a court orders either its redemption or destruction. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.150 Potentially dangerous dog – Restrictions – Violation.

A. Following a declaration of potentially dangerous dog and pending any appeal of that declaration, it is unlawful for an owner or keeper of a potentially dangerous dog to permit it:

1. To be away from the premises of the owner or keeper unless the animal is securely muzzled and leashed, and under the control of a person 18 years of age or older, physically able to restrain and control the animal; or

2. While on the premises of the owner or keeper, to be other than securely confined inside a residential or nonresidential building as determined by the animal control authority, or a kennel, or pen, which has secure sides, bottom, and top. Said residential or nonresidential building, kennel, or pen shall be kept locked; or

3. To be without an implanted identifying microchip provided by the animal control authority; or

4. To fail to comply with any other restrictions imposed on the keeping of a potentially dangerous dog by the municipal court, or any other court with jurisdiction.

B. Any person who violates any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and the penalty shall be a fine of not more than $1,000, or imprisonment not exceeding 90 days, or both such fine and imprisonment. [Ord. 2002-03-019; Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.160 Potentially dangerous or dangerous dog – Disposition hearing.

If there is probable cause to believe that a dog which has been declared potentially dangerous or dangerous is in violation of any restrictions of BMC 7.08.150 or of 7.08.170, the animal control officer may file a petition requesting disposition of the dog. Upon the filing of said petition:

A. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be served with the petition and a notice to appear in municipal court. Service may be effected as provided in BMC 7.08.130(B). Attendance at this appearance is mandatory. Failure of the owner or keeper of the dog to attend after being served with notice is a misdemeanor punishable as provided in BMC 7.08.120.

B. At a hearing on the petition, the humane society has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the dog was in violation of restrictions as provided in BMC 7.08.150 or 7.08.170. This determination is made by the court sitting without a jury. This section provides a civil action in addition to the criminal action prosecuted in BMC 7.08.150 for violation of the restrictions.

C. Following the hearing, the court may rule that:

1. There is insufficient evidence to support the allegation made, whereupon the animal will be released to its owner subject to any restrictions previously imposed; or

2. There is sufficient evidence to establish by a preponderance of evidence that the dog was in violation and the dog shall be promptly disposed of by the humane society; or

3. There is sufficient evidence, to establish by a preponderance of evidence that the dog was in violation, and the dog shall be declared dangerous and subject to the restrictions on dangerous dogs as provided in Chapter 16.08 RCW. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].

7.08.170 Dangerous dogs – Restrictions – Violation.

A. It is unlawful for an owner to have a dangerous dog or a guard or attack dog in the city without a certificate of registration as required by Chapter 16.08 RCW.

B. It is unlawful for an owner of a dangerous dog to permit the dog to be outside the proper enclosure as defined in Chapter 16.08 RCW, unless the dog is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash and under the control of a person 18 years of age or older, physically able to restrain and control the animal. The owner of the dog shall permit the animal control authority to implant an identifying microchip in the dog and shall not remove nor cause to be removed said microchip. The owner of a dangerous dog shall further be required to post the premises with a clearly visible warning sign that there is a dangerous dog on the property. In addition, the owner shall conspicuously display a sign with a warning sign that informs children of the presence of a dangerous dog.

C. A dangerous dog shall be immediately confiscated by the animal control authority if (1) the dog is not validly registered under Chapter 16.08 RCW; or (2) the owner fails to maintain the liability insurance required under Chapter 16.08 RCW; or (3) the dog is not maintained in the proper enclosure; or (4) the dog is not microchipped as provided in subsection (B) of this section, or (5) the dog is outside the proper enclosure and not under physical restraint as required by subsection (B) of this section.

D. In addition to the regular dog licensing fees, the owner registration fee for dangerous dogs shall be $100.00 per location. This shall be an annual fee. At the time of initial application and upon annual renewal the applicant shall provide proof of insurance coverage effective for the license period.

E. The violation of any of the provisions of this section shall be a gross misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and/or imprisonment not to exceed 364 days in the county jail in accordance with RCW 16.08.100(1). [Ord. 2013-02-006 § 13; Ord. 2002-03-019].

7.08.180 Exemption.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any dog kept by any law enforcement agency for law enforcement purposes. [Ord. 10468 § 2, 1993].