Chapter 7.12
DANGEROUS ANIMALS

Sections:

7.12.010    POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS.

7.12.020    FAILURE TO CONTROL AN ANIMAL DECLARED POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS.

7.12.030    DANGEROUS ANIMALS.

7.12.040    POSSESSION OF AN ANIMAL DECLARED DANGEROUS.

7.12.010 POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS.

(a)    Declaration of an Animal as Potentially Dangerous. The animal control authority shall have the authority to declare and restrict an animal potentially dangerous, if the animal control authority has probable cause to believe that the animal falls within the definitions set forth in BMC 7.04.020(v). The declaration 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 BMC 7.04.020(v);

(2)    Animal bite reports filed with the animal control authority;

(3)    Actions of the animal witnessed by any employee of the animal control authority or law enforcement officer; or

(4)    Other substantial evidence.

(b)    Exclusions. An animal shall not be declared potentially dangerous if the animal control authority determines, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the threat, injury, or bite alleged to have been committed by the animal was sustained by a person who was at the time committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the owner of the animal, or who was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the animal, or who had been in the past observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal, or who was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

(c)    Restrictions. The animal control authority may impose any or all of the following restrictions on an animal to protect the public safety or other animals:

(1)    Training. The animal control authority may require the owner of the potentially dangerous animal and the animal to attend, complete, and pay all costs associated with an accredited obedience/training class or seminar. The animal control authority shall pre-approve any choice of class by the owner of the animal, and proof of satisfactory completion of such training shall be provided to the animal control authority upon completion, even if such type of training has been completed by the animal in the past.

(2)    Restraint. The animal control authority may require the owner of the potentially dangerous animal to muzzle, leash, collar, confine, lock, isolate, or remove the animal from the City, or any combination of the foregoing.

(3)    Indemnification. The animal control authority may require the owner of the potentially dangerous animal to prove purchase of liability insurance or bond and renewals in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) or more, as set by the animal control authority. The insurer/bond issuer must be qualified under RCW Title 48 and must provide coverage/funds to offset any injuries inflicted by the potentially dangerous animal. All costs associated with the insurance/bond must be paid by the insured.

(4)    Warning. The animal control authority may require the owner of a potentially dangerous animal to post all entrances to any property where such animal is located with such visible warning sign(s) as the animal control authority deems necessary.

(5)    Financial Responsibility. The animal control authority may require the owner of a potentially dangerous animal to pay any costs associated with enforcement of this section including, but not limited to, those stated above.

(d)    Prohibited Ownership. No person(s) under the age(s) of eighteen (18) years old shall own a potentially dangerous animal, as defined in BMC 7.04.020(v).

(e)    Notice of Animal Control Authority Declaration. If the animal control authority receives a report of a potentially dangerous animal, it shall immediately initiate an investigation including, but not limited to, interviewing the complainant(s), interviewing the owner of the animal, if known, and observing the animal. Upon completion of its investigation, if the animal is declared potentially dangerous, the animal control authority shall prepare a written declaration. The declaration shall include, but is not limited to, a description of the animal, the name and address of the owner of the animal, if known, a brief summary of the facts upon which the declaration is based, a statement of any restrictions placed on the animal or owner as a consequence of the declaration, a statement of the penalties for further violations, and notice of the right to appeal the declaration.

(f)    Service of Notice of Declaration. The animal control authority shall personally serve or send by certified mail its declaration to the owner of the animal. If the owner is unknown, the animal control authority shall make reasonable efforts to notify the owner of its written declaration.

(g)    Appeal to the Municipal Court Hearing Examiner. The owner of an animal declared potentially dangerous shall have seven (7) calendar days from receipt of the written declaration to appeal the declaration to the municipal court hearing examiner pursuant to BMC 2.62.045. Unless otherwise agreed to by the animal owner, the appeal hearing must be scheduled to be heard within twenty-one (21) calendar days from the City’s receipt of the notice of appeal. The municipal court hearing examiner shall provide written notice of the hearing date and time to the owner of the potentially dangerous animal and to the animal control authority. Such notice must be provided at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing.

(h)    Hearing Before the Municipal Court Hearing Examiner. At the appeal hearing before the municipal court hearing examiner, the animal control authority shall have the burden of proving that the animal is potentially dangerous by a preponderance of the evidence. The owner of the animal may present evidence in defense of the animal. The municipal court hearing examiner shall weigh the evidence presented by both the animal control authority and the owner (if applicable), and shall issue a written decision to the appealing animal owner and animal control authority that either sustains or reverses the animal control authority’s declaration.

(i)    Change of Ownership, Custody, and/or Residence. Owners of an animal that has been declared potentially dangerous who sell, barter, or otherwise transfer the ownership, custody, or residence of the animal shall, within fourteen (14) calendar days of the change, inform the animal control authority in writing of the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner, and/or the address of the new residence where the animal is located. Such notice shall also include the name, description, and license number of the animal. In the event the ownership and/or custody of the animal changes, the owner shall notify the new owner in writing of the details of the animal’s record relating to being declared potentially dangerous and the terms and conditions of the declaration. The owner shall also provide the animal control authority with a copy of the written notification that shall contain a notarized statement by the new owner acknowledging receipt of the original notification.

(j)    Failure to Abide by Restraints. Failure on the part of the owner(s) of a potentially dangerous animal to abide by the restraints placed upon the owner(s) or their animal by the animal control authority, municipal court hearing examiner, district court, or superior court may result in impoundment of the potentially dangerous animal by the animal control authority as well as further punitive action pursuant to BMC 7.12.020. (Ord. 4949 §1 (part), 2005: Ord. 4866 §1 (in part), 2003; Ord. 4807, Repealed & Replaced, 06/28/2002)

7.12.020 FAILURE TO CONTROL AN ANIMAL DECLARED POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS.

(a)    Misdemeanor. When an animal has been previously declared potentially dangerous, by a court, animal control authority or municipal court hearing examiner, the owner of the potentially dangerous animal shall be guilty of a misdemeanor pursuant to BMC 1.12.020(2) if such animal is thereafter found:

(1)    At large;

(2)    To have, when unprovoked, inflicted a bite(s) upon a human, pet, or livestock either on public or private property;

(3)    To have chased or approached a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or any other public grounds in such a manner as to significantly threaten the safety of humans, pets, or livestock; or

(4)    To have caused injury to or otherwise threatened the safety of humans, pets, or livestock. This section shall not preclude immediate criminal prosecution under RCW 16.08.100 in a first bite situation causing severe injury or death of any human.

(b)    Impoundment of Potentially Dangerous Animals. In the event that a potentially dangerous animal is impounded due to the owner’s failure to abide by the restraints imposed by the animal control authority, municipal court hearing examiner, district court, superior court or municipal court, the animal shall be forfeited to the animal control authority unless the owner of the animal makes a written request for a hearing before the municipal court hearing examiner in the same manner as an appeal pursuant to BMC 2.62.045 within seven (7) calendar days of the date the notice of impound was provided. If a hearing is requested, the hearing must be scheduled to be heard within twenty-one (21) calendar days from the City’s receipt of the request for a hearing, unless otherwise agreed to by the animal owner. The municipal court hearing examiner shall determine whether it is in the best interest of the community that the animal should be returned to the owner, forfeited by the owner to the animal control authority, or euthanized by the animal control authority. The municipal court hearing examiner shall provide written notice of the hearing date and time to the owner of the animal and to the animal control authority. Such notice must be provided at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing. (Ord. 4949 §1 (part), 2005: Ord. 4866 §1 (in part), 2003; Ord. 4807, Repealed & Replaced, 06/28/2002)

7.12.030 DANGEROUS ANIMALS.

(a)    Declaration of an Animal as Dangerous. The animal control authority shall have the authority to declare an animal as dangerous if the animal control authority has probable cause to believe that the animal falls within the definition set forth in BMC 7.04.020(j). The declaration 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 BMC 7.04.020(j);

(2)    Animal bite reports filed with the animal control authority;

(3)    Actions of the animal witnessed by any employee of the animal control authority or law enforcement officer; or

(4)    Other substantial evidence.

(b)    Exclusions. An animal shall not be declared dangerous if the animal control authority determines, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the threat, injury, or bite alleged to have been committed by the animal was sustained by a person who was at the time committing a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the owner of the animal, or who was tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the animal, or who had been in the past observed or reported to have tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal, or who was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

(c)    Possession Unlawful. It shall be unlawful to possess an animal, inside the City limits of Bremerton, that has been declared to be dangerous by any agency, animal control authority, municipality or court. This prohibition on possession does not apply to the animal control authority or police department. It is a gross misdemeanor to violate this provision.

(d)    Euthanasia. If the animal control authority determines that the restrictions placed on the ownership of dangerous dogs/animals by Chapter 16.08 RCW or other applicable state statutes are insufficient to protect the public from a particular animal declared dangerous, the animal control authority may order the animal euthanized.

(e) Notice of Animal Control Authority Declaration. If the animal control authority receives a report of a dangerous animal, it shall immediately initiate an investigation including, but not limited to, interviewing the complainant(s), interviewing the owner of the animal, if known, and observing the animal. Upon completion of its investigation, if the animal is declared dangerous, the animal control authority shall prepare a written declaration. The declaration shall include, but is not limited to, a description of the animal, the name and address of the owner of the animal, if known, a brief summary of the facts upon which the declaration is based, a statement of any restrictions placed on the animal or owner as a consequence of the declaration, a statement of the penalties for further violations, and notice of the right to appeal the declaration.

(f)    Service of Notice of Declaration. The animal control authority shall personally serve or send by certified mail its declaration to the owner of the animal. If the owner is unknown, the animal control authority shall make reasonable efforts to notify the owner of its written declaration.

(g)    Appeal to the Municipal Court Hearing Examiner. The owner of an animal declared dangerous shall have seven (7) calendar days, from receipt of the written declaration, to appeal the declaration of the animal control authority to the municipal court hearing examiner pursuant to BMC 2.62.045. Unless otherwise agreed to by the animal owner, the appeal hearing must be scheduled to be heard within twenty-one (21) calendar days from the City’s receipt of the notice of appeal. The municipal court hearing examiner shall provide written notice of the hearing date and time to the owner of the animal and the animal control authority.

(h)    Hearing Before the Municipal Court Hearing Examiner. At the appeal hearing before the municipal court hearing examiner, the animal control authority shall have the burden of proving that the animal is dangerous by a preponderance of the evidence. The owner of the animal may present evidence in defense of the animal. The municipal court hearing examiner shall weigh the evidence presented by both the animal control authority and the owner (if applicable), and shall issue a written decision to the appealing animal owner and animal control authority that either sustains or reverses the animal control authority’s declaration. If the declaration is sustained or reversed by the municipal court hearing examiner, the appealing animal owner or the animal control authority shall be notified of the right to appeal. If the declaration is reversed and an appeal is not timely filed by the animal control authority, any restrictions on the animal previously imposed shall be annulled.

(i)    Change of Ownership, Custody, and/or Residence. Owners of an animal that has been declared dangerous who sell, barter, or otherwise transfer the ownership, custody, or residence of the animal shall, within fourteen (14) calendar days of the change, inform the animal control authority in writing of the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner, and/or the address of the new residence where the animal is located. Such notice shall also include the name, description, and license number of the animal. In the event the ownership and/or custody of the animal changes, the owner shall notify the new owner in writing of the details of the animal’s record relating to being declared dangerous and the terms and conditions of the declaration. The owner shall also provide the animal control authority with a copy of the written notification that shall contain a notarized statement by the new owner acknowledging receipt of the original notification. (Ord. 4949 §1 (part), 2005: Ord. 4866 §1 (in part), 2003; Ord. 4807, Repealed & Replaced, 06/28/2002)

7.12.040 POSSESSION OF AN ANIMAL DECLARED DANGEROUS.

(a)    Gross Misdemeanor. When an animal has been previously declared dangerous, by a court, animal control authority or municipal court hearing examiner, the owner of the dangerous animal shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor pursuant to BMC 1.12.020(1) if such animal is thereafter found:

(1)    In the owner’s possession inside Bremerton City limits; or

(2)    Inside City limits under circumstances evidencing that the animal was intentionally brought into the City by the owner or at the request or acquiescence of the owner.

(b)    Impoundment of Dangerous Animals. In the event that a dangerous animal is impounded due to the animal being found within the Bremerton City limits, the animal shall be forfeited to the animal control authority unless the owner of the animal makes a written request for a hearing within seven (7) calendar days of the date the notice of impound was provided to the owner of the animal. If a hearing is requested, the hearing must be scheduled to be heard within twenty-one (21) calendar days from the day of the City’s receipt of the request for a hearing before the municipal court hearing examiner in the same manner as an appeal pursuant to BMC 2.62.045 unless otherwise agreed to by the animal owner. The municipal court hearing examiner shall determine whether it is in the best interest of the community that the animal should be returned to the owner, forfeited by the owner to the animal control authority, or euthanized by the animal control authority. The municipal court hearing examiner shall provide written notice of the hearing date and time to the owner of the potentially dangerous animal and to the animal control authority. Such notice must be provided at least seven (7) days prior to the scheduled hearing. (Ord. 4949 §1 (part), 2005: Ord. 4866 §1 (in part), 2003; Ord. 4807, Repealed & Replaced, 06/28/2002)