Chapter 6.04
ANIMAL CONTROL

Sections:

6.04.010    Purpose.

6.04.020    Definitions.

6.04.030    Dog control zone established.

6.04.031    Administration and enforcement.

6.04.032    Dog control zones – Creation.

6.04.040    Applicability.

6.04.050    Dog licensing.

6.04.060    Nuisances – Infractions.

6.04.070    Exotic and/or wild animal – Permit required.

6.04.080    Crimes – Misdemeanors.

6.04.090    Dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs – Declaration.

6.04.095    Restrictions that may be placed on potentially dangerous dogs or dangerous dogs.

6.04.100    Repealed.

6.04.110    Potentially dangerous dogs – Violations.

6.04.120    Dangerous dogs – Requirements.

6.04.130    Hearing on disposition of dangerous and potentially dangerous dog.

6.04.140    Control of rabid or potentially rabid animals.

6.04.150    Impound, redemption and disposition of animals.

6.04.160    Impounded animals – Fees for.

6.04.170    Disposition of animals.

6.04.180    Disposal.

6.04.190    Trapping or detaining destructive or nuisance animals.

6.04.200    Pickup and disposition fees.

6.04.220    Severability.

6.04.230    Law enforcement dogs – Exemption.

6.04.231    Penalties.

6.04.232    Contested hearing.

6.04.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide regulations within the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County and specific controls within designated urban areas of Whatcom County to control animal conduct. Nothing in this chapter shall be intended nor construed to create any liability on the part of the county, its officers, employees, agents or contractors. It is not the purpose or intent of this chapter to create on the part of county agents any special duties to or relationships with specific individuals. This chapter has been enacted for the welfare of the public as a whole. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.020 Definitions.

A. “Adult dog” means any dog, male or female, seven months of age or older.

B. “Allow” means to permit by neglecting to restrain or prevent.

C. “Animal” shall have its customary common meaning and shall include dogs where applicable.

D. “Animal control authority department” means the agency or department authorized by action of the county council to provide animal housing and control services for the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County and whose employees are deputized by the Whatcom County sheriff for the purpose of enforcing this title and laws of the state of Washington as they pertain to animal control and welfare.

E. “Animal shelter” means a facility used to care for homeless, stray or unwanted animals by a governmental entity or authorized animal welfare society, and may include more than one location.

F. “Animal sanctuary” means a housing and living facility for nondomesticated animals to live their lives free from abuse and neglect. The facility serves as an alternate to euthanasia and provides a secure home where rescued animals can live with dignity and proper care.

G. “At large” means to be off the premises of the owner and not under the control of either the owner or a person authorized by the owner.

H. “Dangerous dog” means any dog that, according to the records of the appropriate authority, (1) has inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property, (2) has killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner’s property, or (3) has been previously found to be potentially dangerous, the owner having received notice of such and the dog again aggressively bites, attacks, or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals.

I. “Director” means the head administrative official of the animal control authority or department that has been authorized by the Whatcom County council.

J. “Dog” means any member, male or female, of the family Canis familiaris.

K. “Exotic animal” means any animal not native to or usually found as domestic pets in the United States, including but not limited to lions, tigers, bears, gorillas, chimpanzees, lynx, cougars, jaguars, venomous snakes, and includes “wild animals” such as but not limited to wolves, raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and hybrid wolves and coyotes.

L. “Good animal husbandry” includes, but is not limited to, the dehorning of cattle and other horn-bearing livestock, and castration or neutering of any animal, according to accepted practices of veterinary medicine or normally accepted animal husbandry.

M. “Harboring or keeping an animal” means providing food and care for the animal on one’s premises. An occupant of any premises will be presumed to be harboring or keeping an animal within the meaning of this chapter when an animal remains on the premises or regularly returns to the premises for food and care for a period of 14 days.

N. “Livestock” means horses, cattle, sheep, goats, swine, donkeys, mules and domestic fowl and rabbits.

O. “Owner” means any person, firm, corporation, organization or department possessing, harboring, keeping, having any interest in, or having control or custody of an animal.

P. “Pet shop” is any establishment or premises maintained for the purchase, sale or exchange of pets of any type.

Q. “Potentially dangerous dog” means any dog that when unprovoked: (1) inflicts bites on a human or domestic animal either on public or private property, or (2) chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, or any dog with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury, or otherwise to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.

R. “Psittacine bird” includes all birds commonly known as parrots, macaws, cockatoos, lovebirds, parakeets and all other birds of the order Psittaciformes.

S. “Severe injury” means any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations requiring multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery.

T. “Stray animal” means any unidentified dog, cat or other animal whose owner is unknown or who has no owner. The stray animal is declared to be a nuisance, and any such stray may be seized and impounded. For the purpose of this section, “stray dog” or “stray animal” means any dog, cat or other animal appearing or remaining in a neighborhood or any public place without an apparent home.

U. “Under control” means that the owner, by means of a leash, restrains the dog to the owner’s immediate proximity, preventing the dog from trespassing upon property or annoying or chasing other persons, animals, or vehicles of any sort.

V. “Vicious animal” includes any whose temperament or habits create danger of injury to persons or other animals or create a reasonable apprehension of injury to persons or other animals.

W. “Wild animal” means an animal living in its natural state and native to the United States, but not normally domesticated, raised or bred by man. (Ord. 2002-052; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-82 (part); Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.030 Dog control zone established.

A. All of the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County are hereby declared to be dog control zones except areas designated R-5, R-10, and AG. Planned unit developments (PUDs) authorized for more than one house per five acres shall be included in this chapter’s dog control zone creation. Further, in these exempt areas, residents may petition the council for areas to be designated dog control zones. Within these exempt areas, all other provisions of this chapter apply, except the under-control provisions.

B. An additional dog control zone, petitioned for by county citizens, is hereby declared to exist in the Mosquito Lake Road and Mount Baker Highway areas, as hereinafter described: Portions of Sections 9, 10, 15, 16, 21, 22, 27, and 28, Township 39 North, Range 5 East of W.M., Whatcom County, Washington; said area is further described as all those portions of the above described sections lying easterly of the Mount Baker Highway and westerly of the North Fork of the Nooksack River and southerly of Coal Creek and northerly of the north line of the south one-half of the south one-half of said Section 28, said north line running east and west from a point approximately 700 feet south of the Mosquito Lake Road and Mount Baker Highway intersection; and all those portions of the above described sections lying westerly of and within one-half mile of the Mount Baker Highway and northerly of the north line of the south one-half of the south one-half of said Section 28, said north line running east and west from a point approximately 700 feet south of the Mosquito Lake Road and Mount Baker Highway intersection, and southerly of a line projected westerly from the Mount Baker Highway-Coal Creek Bridge. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 93-069 Exh. A; Ord. 90-82 (part); Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.031 Administration and enforcement.

A. Sheriff. Administration and enforcement of this chapter shall be the responsibility of the Whatcom County sheriff, his deputized agent (the animal control authority) or other official designated by the county council and the county executive’s office. The sheriff or deputized designee shall be responsible for administration and enforcement of this chapter as to:

1. Operate or cause to be operated an animal shelter;

2. If deemed necessary, select, train, hire, and retain a qualified animal control officer or officers who shall enforce the provisions of this chapter;

3. Investigate complaints pertaining to animal misconduct occurring in the unincorporated areas.

B. County Executive. The county executive’s office shall oversee the administration, issuance, re-issuance and enforcement of license fees and other tax charges or penalties as provided for in this chapter. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-82 (part)).

6.04.032 Dog control zones – Creation.

A. The county council may, as the need arises and in accordance with the provisions of RCW 16.10.020, establish dog control zones in areas not provided for in this chapter. The public may initiate the procedure for establishing a dog control zone by submitting a petition to the county council. The petition shall contain the names, addresses and signatures of no less than 50 persons of voting age residing within the proposed dog control zone. A map shall be attached to each petition which clearly and accurately designates the boundaries of the proposed zone. Said boundaries shall be subject to modification and/or approval of the county council.

B. In determining whether a dog control zone should be established, the county council shall call a public hearing, notice of which shall be published once a week for each successive four weeks prior thereto in a newspaper of general circulation within the proposed zone. At such a hearing, proponents and opponents of the proposed dog control zone may appear and present their views. The final decision of the county council with respect to the establishment of such a zone and its boundaries shall not be made until the conclusion of the hearing. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-82 (part)).

6.04.040 Applicability.

A. Dogs Off Premises to be Under Control. It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any dog to cause, permit or allow his/her dog to run, stray or otherwise to be away from the premises of the owner or keeper within a dog control zone and to be on public property or the private property of another without their permission, unless such dog be under control by means of a leash.

B. Exceptions. The under-control section shall not apply to dogs while engaged in one of the following activities directly supervised by the owner or keeper so as to keep it from being a nuisance or danger to people or domestic animals:

1. Sanctioned search and rescue missions operated by or through authority of the sheriff’s office;

2. Lawful herding of farm animals;

3. Lawful animal competition sanctioned by a nationally recognized organization or a local chapter thereof;

4. Lawful hunting activities;

5. Lawful training in preparation for such herding, hunting, or competition activities;

6. Dog obedience training with the owner or keeper in attendance. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.050 Dog licensing.

It is unlawful to keep or harbor a dog over seven months of age anywhere in the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County unless a dog license has been procured for the animal from the county or the county’s authorized agent or agency. Administration of licensing and fees shall be under the direction of the county executive’s office. Dogs at large anywhere in the unincorporated areas of Whatcom County without a license are deemed nuisances and may be impounded. Any person harboring, keeping or allowing an unlicensed dog to be at large when such dog should be licensed is guilty of an infraction.

A. Owners, keepers, or businesses may obtain a kennel permit in lieu of individual licenses. Those individuals or businesses with such a permit are exempt from this section; provided, that other stipulations are met as defined elsewhere in this chapter.

B. Licenses may be obtained and renewed from the animal control authority and assistants, or from any licensed agency. The council may, through the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule, set the fee for such service.

C. All new dog licenses shall be good 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 renew a license within 30 days of the date the license is first required or expired shall be assessed a $5.00 late fee. This section applies to first time licensed dogs.

E. The annual dog license fee for each sterilized dog, male or female, shall be 50 percent less than the annual dog license fee for each unsterilized dog, as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule.

F. Any person may choose to pay a single annual multiple-dog license fee as established in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule. Individual license tags for multiple-dog licensing shall be issued at no additional charge for each dog. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.060 Nuisances – Infractions.

Violations of any of the following requirements or standards constitute a nuisance and shall be an infraction.

A. Except in exempt areas, the owner or keeper of any dog shall not allow it to be at large and not under control.

B. The owner or keeper of any dog must license and renew the license for any dog in the manner outlined in the licensing section.

C. No person, other than the owner or keeper or otherwise authorized person shall remove the license tag from an animal required to be licensed.

D. All female dogs, while in season, shall be confined in a clean, dry place not accessible to male dogs and kept there during that entire period, except for the purpose of planned breeding and with knowledge of the owner of the male dog.

E. No owner or keeper of any dog shall allow continuous barking for more than a 20-minute period.

F. No animal, whether confined, tethered or loose, shall be allowed on any public property including school grounds and parks without the prior consent of the applicable agency. Exemption: Dogs trained to aid the handicapped.

G. No animal may enter any place where food is prepared, served, stored or sold to the public. Exemption: Dogs trained to aid the handicapped.

H. No person, other than the owner, keeper or other authorized person, is permitted to release the animal from confinement.

I. No dog may jump at or upon, or otherwise threaten persons using sidewalks, streets, alleys or other public ways.

J. No dog may chase, bite or harass livestock or other domestic animals, except for herding purposes.

K. A dog or dogs believed to be in violation of this section and found in a public place may be immediately impounded. Prior to entering onto private property, the animal control officer should seek the appropriate warrant. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.070 Exotic and/or wild animal – Permit required.

A. Permit. A permit from the animal control authority shall be required for any person, firm, corporation or business to own or maintain any wild or exotic animal for the creation of a sanctuary. No person shall be permitted to own, harbor, or maintain any wild or exotic animal for any purpose of other than the creation of a sanctuary. Distribution, sale, trade, breeding, allowing reproduction, or release of any wild or exotic animal is prohibited.

1. A permit to own and maintain any wild or exotic animal will be issued only if it can be demonstrated that the applicant will house the animals in animal enclosures that comply with current American Zoo Association standards and will care for the animals in accordance with these standards. The permit holder must provide the animal control authority access to all records concerning the animals and provide proof of continued involvement of a veterinarian to monitor the health, nutrition, and well-being of all permitted animals.

2. Prior to issuance of permit, an applicant must show proof of liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000.

3. No owner of a permitted sanctuary shall provide public access to the sanctuary.

4. The annual permit fee to own or maintain any wild or exotic animal shall be established in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule.

B. Inspections. Sanctuary facilities and enclosures are subject to inspection by the animal control authority at any time upon providing notice at least 24 hours in advance of inspection.

C. Permit Revocation. A permit may be revoked for any violation of this chapter. In addition, a refusal to allow an inspection upon proper notice shall be grounds for revocation. If said permit is revoked, the animals shall immediately be removed from the county.

D. Transportation. Each incident of wild or exotic animal transportation will be preapproved by the animal control authority and notification will be given to the Whatcom County sheriff’s department.

E. Exemptions. Exempt from the permit requirement of this section are:

1. Circuses and zoos staying within the county for a limited time of no more than 30 days; provided, that proper safeguards are taken to protect the public and the animal control authority is notified of their arrival, all locations used to keep the animals, and duration of stay;

2. State-registered wildlife rehabilitation centers, sanctioned by the Washington State Wildlife Department;

3. Existing wolf and coyote hybrids. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.080 Crimes – Misdemeanors.

The following are misdemeanors:

A. Possessing an Exotic and/or Wild Animal without a Permit. It shall be a misdemeanor for a person to own or maintain any wild and/or exotic animal without a valid permit from the animal control authority.

B. Refusal to Quarantine. It shall be a misdemeanor for an owner or keeper to refuse to quarantine or permit the quarantine of any animal when and as required by state law and this chapter.

C. Interfering with Impounding and Other Animal Control, Duties and Enforcement. It is a misdemeanor for any person to prevent, obstruct or hinder the impoundment of an animal or other enforcement duties of officers pursuant to this chapter.

D. Damage. It is a misdemeanor for the owner or keeper of any domesticated animal to allow it to enter upon private or public property, so as to damage or destroy any real or personal property, including livestock and other animals of value.

E. Cruelty to Animals. The following acts and omissions constitute cruel treatment to animals; therefore, it shall be a misdemeanor for any person, firm or corporation to:

1. Wilfully or cruelly kill, injure, poison, torture or torment any animal by any means causing it fright or pain; or

2. Lay out or expose any kind of poison or leave exposed any poisoned food or drink for man, animal or fowl, or any substance of fluid whatever, whereon or wherein there is or shall be deposited or mingled any kind of poisonous or deadly substance or fluid whatever, on any premises, or abet any person in so doing, unless in accordance with the RCW 16.52.190; or

3. Neglect or fail to provide minimum care to any animal within his care, custody or control. For the purpose of this section, “minimum care” means that in each period of 24 hours, food and water of sufficient quantity and quality will be provided that allows for the maintenance of body weight and for an immature animal, normal growth and to otherwise preserve the health and well-being of the animal; or

4. Tether, confine or restrain any animal in such a way as to permit said animal to become frequently entangled in such tether, or render said animal incapable of consuming food and water for more than 24 hours; or

5. Abandon or leave any animal on a street, road or highway or in public place or on private property; or

6. Confine and leave unattended an animal within or on a motor vehicle or other closure or structure under conditions that endanger the health and well-being of the animal. Such conditions include, but are not limited to, dangerous temperatures and lack of food and water; or

7. Intentionally run down or otherwise abuse any animal with a bicycle or motor vehicle, including motorcycles and motorbikes; or

8. Intentionally trap any domestic animal with a device other than a humane live animal trap. Any practice of good animal husbandry as defined in WCC 6.04.020 is not a violation of this section. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.090 Dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs – Declaration.

A. The animal control authority may find and declare a dog dangerous or potentially dangerous if there is probable cause to believe that the animal falls within the definition set forth in WCC 6.04.020(H) and (Q), respectively. The finding will be based on:

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 or potentially dangerous under WCC 6.04.020(H) and (Q); or

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

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

4. Other substantial evidence which may include the previous history of the dog.

B. The declaration of dangerous or potentially dangerous dog shall be in writing, and shall be served by the animal control authority on the owner or keeper by 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 after reasonable attempts, by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the incident.

C. The declaration shall state at least the following information:

1. A description of the animal;

2. The name and address of the owner or keeper of the animal;

3. The last known whereabouts of the animal if it is not in the custody of the owner or keeper;

4. The facts upon which the declaration of dangerous or potentially dangerous dog is based;

5. Notice of the owner’s or keeper’s right to a hearing to contest the declaration, if the request is made within five days;

6. The restrictions placed on the animal as a result of the declaration of dangerous or potentially dangerous dog;

7. The penalties for violation of the restrictions. A complete copy of Whatcom County Code Chapter 6.04 shall be included with each declaration not served by publication. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 2002-052; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.095 Restrictions that may be placed on potentially dangerous dogs or dangerous dogs.

The animal control authority, upon issuing the declaration called for in WCC 6.04.090, may place the following conditions upon the dog owner or keeper:

A. Require that the dog be securely confined inside a locked building, kennel, pen or other structure having secure sides, bottom and top.

B. Require that at all times when the dog is out of the kennel that the animal be securely muzzled, on a leash that is not longer than six feet in length, and under the control of a person 15 years of age or older who is physically able to control the animal.

C. Continue to impose any restriction which has been previously imposed on the animal by either a court or administrative agency.

D. Post liability insurance on the animal which has been declared dangerous.

E. Require the animal to wear a bright orange collar bearing the warning “potentially dangerous dog,” or “dangerous dog” depending upon the animal’s designation.

F. Require the animal to have a microchip implant for a permanent form of identification.

G. If this animal is moved from the county, the owner shall notify both the Whatcom County animal control agency and the agency who controls animals in the area where the animal is being relocated. (Ord. 2004-039).

6.04.100 Dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs – Declaration – Appeal.

Repaled by Ord. 2009-053. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.110 Potentially dangerous dogs – Violations.

A. Following a declaration of potentially dangerous dog, it shall be a misdemeanor for an owner or keeper to:

1. Permit the dog to be other than securely confined inside a locked building, kennel, pen or other structure having secure sides, bottom and top while on the premises of the owner or keeper; or

2. Permit the dog to be away from the premises of the owner or keeper unless the dog is securely muzzled and leashed, and under the control of a person at least 15 years of age and physically able to restrain and control the animal; or

3. Fail to comply with any restrictions established by either a court or administrative agency on keeping said potentially dangerous dog; or

4. Fail to notify the agency of change of ownership, custody or residence of the dog within 10 days of such change.

B. Following a declaration of potentially dangerous dog made by either a court or administrative agency, the owner or keeper shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor if:

1. Said dog inflicts a bite or bites upon a human or a domestic animal, unprovoked, either on public or private property; or

2. Said dog chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or other public grounds in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack, or causes injury to or otherwise threatens the safety of humans or animals. This section shall not preclude any immediate criminal prosecution under RCW 16.08.100(3), in a situation causing severe injury or death of any human.

C. No violation of the provisions of the above section may be disposed of by forfeiture of bail without a court appearance.

D. The animal control officer may seek destruction of the animal pursuant to WCC 6.04.130. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.120 Dangerous dogs – Requirements.

A. RCW 16.08.070, 16.08.080, 16.08.090, and 16.08.100 are adopted and incorporated herein by this reference, as stated or hereafter amended.

B. The annual registration fee for dangerous dogs shall be established in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule. This registration fee is in addition to regular applicable dog license fees.

C. Within 15 days of receipt of an application for certificate of registration, an animal control officer shall make an on-site inspection of the applicant’s site for keeping the dangerous dog to ensure that the site is properly enclosed and posted in accordance with the requirements that have been imposed.

D. Certificate of Registration of Dangerous Dog – Issuance.

1. The Whatcom County animal control authority shall issue the certificate of registration if the registration fee is paid and the application and site inspection show that the applicant meets the requirements of this chapter and applicable state law. The certificate of registration shall contain its date of expiration and a statement of the applicable state criminal penalties for failing to comply.

2. Prior to renewal of a certificate of registration, the animal control authority shall inspect the premises where the dangerous dog is kept at a time mutually convenient. The purpose shall be to ascertain that the site remains in compliance with this section and state law. Said inspection shall occur within 30 days prior to the expiration date of the certificate. A renewal of the certificate of registration shall not be issued without such an inspection. If upon the reinspection the site is no longer in compliance, it shall be a violation and the dog shall be immediately impounded and hearing will be held in accordance with WCC 6.04.130. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.130 Hearing on disposition of dangerous and potentially dangerous dog.

If there is reasonable cause to believe a dangerous dog or a dog which has been declared potentially dangerous is in violation of any provision of either this chapter or Chapter 16.08 RCW, the animal control officer may request a hearing before the district court regarding one or more dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. Upon said request:

A. The owner or keeper of the animal(s) shall be served with notice of a pending hearing before the district court within 48 hours of filing the request for hearing. The date for the hearing shall be set by the court upon filing. If the dog or dogs have been impounded, the request for hearing shall be filed no more than two days after the impound, excluding weekends and legal holidays. The day of impound shall not be included in calculating the time period.

B. Pending hearing under this section, and any appeals to a court of competent jurisdiction, the animal or animals may be seized and impounded at the cost of the owner or keeper, as provided by this chapter.

C. Attendance at a hearing under this section is mandatory. Failure of the owner or keeper of the animal to appear after being served with notice will result in a finding that the violation has occurred, and will allow the court to consider disposition of the animal.

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

1. There is insufficient evidence of the violation, whereupon the animal will be released to its owner subject to any restrictions imposed upon it previously; or

2. The animal be properly and humanely euthanized by the animal control officer; or

3. Under special circumstances, and subject to the restrictions of Chapter 16.08 RCW, the owner or keeper may be allowed to permanently remove the animal from the county; provided, that adequate security or assurance against its return is given, and the court is convinced that the animal will be kept in such a manner that it is no longer a danger to persons, property or other animals. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.140 Control of rabid or potentially rabid animals.

A. A domestic animal of a species 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 animal that has bitten a human and broken the skin, regardless of provocation or previous inoculation for diseases, shall be confined 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 animal, or if the animal control authority determines from the prior history of the animal that confinement is not likely, the animal 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 animal shall be borne by the owner, if in a location other than the owner’s residence.

3. Should the animal 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 animal 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 the 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. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.150 Impound, redemption and disposition of animals.

A. Animals may be impounded and taken into the care and custody of the animal control authority in 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;

2. If the animal is an adult dog and it has no current license tag;

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

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

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 animal has been subjected to cruelty as defined by RCW 16.52.205 and/or 16.52.207 and/or the provisions of this chapter; provided, that removal is necessary for the immediate safety and well-being of the animal;

7. When the animal’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. These animals will be deemed impounded for safekeeping;

8. When an animal 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 animal’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. 2013-067 (Exh. A); Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.160 Impounded animals – Fees for.

For every animal impounded pursuant to this chapter, there shall be paid to the animal control authority, by the owner, keeper or their authorized representative claiming such animal, the total of the following fees before the animal is released from impoundment:

A. For dogs:

1. For the first impoundment in any 12-month period, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule;

2. For the second impoundment of same dog in any 12-month period, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule; and

3. For the third and subsequent impoundments within any 12-month period, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule;

4. Exception: Fees for second, third and subsequent impoundment shall apply only to dogs in violation of WCC 6.04.150(A)(1) and (A)(2).

B. For animals other than dogs:

1. For any impoundment of cat or other small domestic pet, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule;

2. For any impoundment of livestock such as sheep, goats, swine, cattle or horses, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule.

C. Impoundment fee can be waived or reduced at the discretion of the director of the animal control authority in case of animals impounded pursuant to WCC 6.04.150(A)(3), (A)(4), or (A)(7), if it can be determined that the owner did not otherwise violate the terms of this chapter.

D. A charge for the boarding and care of the animals after the first 24 hours will be made which will be:

1. For dogs, cats, other small domestic pets and small livestock, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule;

2. For large livestock, see the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule.

E. In addition, any necessary additional expenses incurred by the animal control authority to care for the pet shall be assessed. These may include but are not limited to necessary veterinary care and special transportation for livestock. Actual copies of these special bills will be made available to the owner.

F. Charges for boarding and care can be reduced at the discretion of the director if special circumstances exist or in the case of several animals belonging to the same owner, such as a litter of pups or kittens; provided, that such reduction will be allowed the same owner only once in any 12-month period.

G. For all dogs impounded and currently unlicensed, the current license fee shall be assessed the owner or keeper before the dog is released from impoundment. (Ord. 2004-039; Ord. 98-022; Ord. 93-080 Exh. S; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.170 Disposition of animals.

A. Any unlicensed or unidentified domestic animal impounded pursuant to this chapter shall be held for at least 72 hours, not including Sundays or legal holidays.

B. For any licensed or otherwise identified domestic animal, the holding period shall be 120 hours, not including Sundays or legal holidays, during which time reasonable attempts will be made to locate and notify the owner or keeper.

C. All livestock impounded pursuant to this chapter shall be held for at least 120 hours, not including Sundays or legal holidays. If not claimed by the owner, the brand inspector for Whatcom County shall be notified and disposition will be at his discretion as pursuant to RCW Chapter 16.57.

D. Should any impounded animal be suffering from serious injury, illness or disease that would endanger the other sheltered pets or cause the animal to endure unnecessary pain and suffering if left untreated, or if any impounded animal is feral or wild and thereby humane care and confinement is not possible or poses a threat to caretakers, the animal may be destroyed before the expiration of the required holding period. Such cases must be carefully documented in writing by the animal control authority and be approved by either a licensed veterinarian or by the director. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.180 Disposal.

A. Any animal not redeemed by its owner during the prescribed period may be humanely destroyed by an approved method, or placed for adoption to a new owner; provided, that the new owner agrees in writing to surgically sterilize any dog or cat within one month or upon maturity and to provide proper licensing in the case of a dog.

B. The director of the animal control authority shall have the right to deny adoption to any person of any unredeemed animal if it can be determined that placement would not be in the best interest of the animal or the community.

C. No live animal shall be used, sold or donated for experimental purposes. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.190 Trapping or detaining destructive or nuisance animals.

A. Upon the written complaint of any party that any cat or other living creature other than man is trespassing upon the premises or property of the complaining party and thereon doing substantial damage to property, trees, shrubs, lawns or gardens, or creating a substantial nuisance that disturbs the repose of any person and upon the animal control officer finding probable cause exists that the complaint is valid, the animal control officer may humanely trap or detain such cat or animal or allow the owner of the property to humanely trap or detain such cat or other animal.

B. Such trapped animals shall be impounded by the animal control authority and disposed of in accordance with this chapter or in accordance with RCW 77.16.230 if a game animal; provided, that the State Game Department will be notified before wild animals are trapped if other than opossum or skunk. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.200 Pickup and disposition fees.

A. A fee as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule shall be imposed when the owner or keeper of any dog or cat requests and receives disposition service from the county; if more than one pickup is requested by the owner or keeper in the same service call, the fee for the second or subsequent pickup shall be as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule. In hardship cases the director may reduce or waive the fee.

B. Pickup fees for animals other than dogs and cats will be decided by the director.

C. If an animal cannot be released by owner for discretionary disposition by the animal control authority due to holding requirements, such as dogs being quarantined, an additional boarding fee as set forth in the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule will be assessed. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 93-080 Exh. S; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.220 Severability.

If any section, subsection, sentence of this chapter or amendment thereto or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder or application to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.230 Law enforcement dogs – Exemption.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to any dog kept by any law enforcement agency for law enforcement purposes. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-82 (part); Ord. 90-53 (part)).

6.04.231 Penalties.

A. Infractions. Violations of this chapter constituting an infraction shall subject the violator to a penalty of not more than $50.00.

B. Misdemeanors. Violations of this chapter constituting a misdemeanor shall subject the violator to a fine not to exceed $500.00 and/or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed 90 days. (Ord. 98-022; Ord. 90-82 (part)).

6.04.232 Contested hearing.

Following service of a declaration of dangerous or potentially dangerous dog, the owner or keeper may, within five business days of receipt of the declaration, or within five business days of publication of the declaration pursuant to WCC 6.04.090(B)(3), request a hearing contesting such actions through the district court of Whatcom County.

If owner or keeper wishes to request a hearing, they must do so in person at the District Court of Whatcom County Offices, Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Avenue, Suite 401, Bellingham, Washington 98225. Animal owner or keeper shall:

A. File with the district court clerk a petition which shall contain the following information:

1. Date of declaration with a copy attached;

2. Statements giving basis as to why petitioner believes the decision should be reversed;

3. Names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses who will appear on petitioner’s behalf; and

4. Current address and daytime phone number where petitioner can be contacted.

B. No filing fee shall be charged by district court.

C. If an animal(s) has been impounded, petitioner shall seek an expedited hearing.

D. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to notify the animal control authority within 48 hours of the filing. If the last day for notification falls on a day that the animal control authority is closed for business, the petitioner has until the next business day to provide notice.

E. At the hearing, the animal control authority has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the dog declared dangerous or potentially dangerous falls within the definition of WCC 6.04.020(H) or (Q). (Ord. 2016-071 Exh. A; Ord. 2009-053 Exh. C).