Chapter 6.07
DANGEROUS AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ANIMALS Revised 2/20

Sections:

6.07.010    Declaration of Animals as Potentially Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous – Procedure.

6.07.020    Appeal of Declaration.

6.07.030    Permits, Fees, and Conditions for Dangerous Animals. Revised 2/20

6.07.040    Permits, Fees, and Conditions for Potentially Dangerous Animals. Revised 2/20

6.07.050    Notification of Status of a Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous Animal.

6.07.060    Impoundment of Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous Animals.

6.07.070    Criminal Penalty for Failure to Control or Comply with Restrictions

6.07.080    Duty to Comply.

6.07.010 Declaration of Animals as Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous – Procedure.

A.    The animal control authority may declare an animal as dangerous or potentially dangerous if the animal control officer has a reasonable belief that the animal's conduct falls within the definition of a dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal as set forth in PCC 6.02.010 and the exclusions contained in this Section do not apply. The finding must be based upon:

1.    The written or verbal complaint of a citizen who is willing to testify that the animal has acted in a manner which causes it to fall within the definitions of a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal; or

2.    Animal bite reports filed with the animal control authority; or

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

4.    Other substantial evidence.

B.    Exclusions. An animal shall not be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous if 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 upon the premises occupied by the owner of the animal, or who was abusing or assaulting the animal, or who was committing or attempting to commit a crime. This exclusion does not apply to actions taken in defense of oneself, other humans, animals, or property.

C.    The declaration of a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal shall be in writing and shall be served on the owner by one of the following methods:

1.    Regular and certified mail to the owner's last known address. Service shall be deemed complete upon the third day following the day upon which the notice was placed in the mail. If the third day falls upon a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, then service shall be deemed complete on the next business day; or

2.    Personally; or

3.    By posting the declaration in a conspicuous location at the owner's residence.

D.    The declaration shall state at least:

1.    The description of the animal.

2.    The name and address of the owner of the animal, if known.

3.    A brief statement of facts upon which the declaration is based.

4.    A reference to the Code Section that contains a definition of a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal and to this Chapter.

5.    The availability of an appeal in case the person objects to the declaration, if a request is made within ten calendar days.

(Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.020 Appeal of Declaration.

A.    The owner of the animal may contest a declaration of dangerous or potentially dangerous animal by submitting a written appeal.

1.    The owner must submit the written appeal at the Auditor's office within ten calendar days of service of the declaration.

2.    Except as provided by this Chapter, the appeal shall proceed in accordance with the Pierce County Hearing Examiner Code, Chapter 1.22 PCC.

3.    Notice of the public hearing shall be mailed to the owner's address as listed on the written appeal.

4.    At the public hearing, the scope of evidence and the scope of review shall be de novo.

5.    The burden shall be on the animal control authority to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that the animal is a dangerous animal or potentially dangerous animal as defined in PCC 6.02.010 and that the exclusions contained in PCC 6.07.010 do not apply.

6.    The Examiner shall render a decision on the appeal within 30 calendar days following the conclusion of all testimony and hearings and closing of the record unless a longer period of time is agreed to by the parties.

B.    The decision of the Examiner shall be considered final and conclusive unless a writ of review is filed in Superior Court within 20 calendar days of the decision.

1.    If a writ is issued, the petitioner shall be responsible for paying the cost of preparing the administrative record and the transcript of proceedings and shall serve copies of both upon the Prosecuting Attorney's office. The prevailing party shall be entitled to recovery of these costs.

C.    During the entire appeal process, the owner shall keep the animal indoors or securely confined on the property where the owner resides. Secure confinement may be accomplished by erecting an escape proof fence, keeping the animal in a proper enclosure as described in PCC 6.02.010, humanely tethering the animal as described in PCC 6.03.010 N., or by other means approved by the animal control authority. It is unlawful for the owner appealing a declaration to allow or permit the animal to go beyond the premises of the owner unless such animal is securely leashed, under the control of a competent adult, and humanely muzzled or otherwise securely restrained. Upon noncompliance with this subsection, the animal control authority is authorized to impound the animal subject to the procedures set forth in PCC 6.07.060.

(Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.030 Permits, Fees, and Conditions for Dangerous Animals. Revised 2/20

A.    Following the declaration of a dangerous animal and the exhaustion of the appeal therefrom, the owner of a dangerous animal shall obtain a permit for such animal from the Auditor and shall be required to pay the fee for such permit in the amount of $500.00 to the Auditor or the Auditor's designee. In addition, the owner of a dangerous animal shall pay an annual renewal fee for such permit in the amount of $500.00 to the Auditor or the Auditor's designee. A permit will be issued to the owner of a dangerous animal upon payment of the permit fees if the owner is able to pass an inspection within the prescribed timeframe by meeting the following inspection criteria:

1.    A proper enclosure of the animal with a posted warning sign as defined in PCC 6.02.010,

2.    Proof that the animal has been microchipped and microchip number is provided.

3.    Two current, color, digital photographs in electronic format of the animal (minimum 3" x 5" in size), for identification purposes;

4.    Proof of current rabies vaccination;

5.    Proof the animal has been spayed or neutered;

6.    Proof of a policy of liability insurance (such as homeowner's insurance) issued by an insurer qualified under Title 48 RCW in the amount of at least $500,000.00, insuring the owner for any personal injuries inflicted by the dangerous animal, or proof of a surety bond issued by a surety insurer qualified under Chapter 48.28 RCW in a form acceptable to the animal control authority in the sum of at least $500,000.00 and payable to any person injured by the dangerous animals;

7.    Proof that the owner has obtained a muzzle as defined in PCC 6.02.010. The muzzle must be available at time of inspection; and

8.    Proof that the owner has obtained a brightly colored collar with current license tag. The collar must be made available at the time of inspection.

B.    Following a declaration of dangerous animal and the exhaustion of any appeals therefrom, it shall be unlawful for the person owning or harboring or having care of a dangerous animal to allow and/or permit such animal to:

1.    Remain outside of a proper enclosure while on the premises of such person; or

2.    Go beyond the premises of such person unless such animal is securely leashed and humanely muzzled or otherwise securely restrained.

The animal must wear a brightly colored collar with current license tag at all times.

C.    Where an animal is found to be a dangerous because the animal killed a human being, after the exhaustion of appeal therefrom, the dangerous animal shall be surrendered to the animal control authority and be humanely euthanized.

(Ord. 2019-66s § 2 (part), 2019; Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.040 Permits, Fees, and Conditions for Potentially Dangerous Animals. Revised 2/20

A.    Following the declaration of a potentially dangerous animal and the exhaustion of the appeal therefrom, the owner of a potentially dangerous animal shall obtain a permit for such animal from the Auditor and shall be required to pay the fee for such permit in the amount of $250.00 to the Auditor or the Auditor's designee. In addition, the owner of a potentially dangerous animal shall pay an annual renewal fee for such permit in the amount of $250.00 to the Auditor or the Auditor's designee. A permit will be issued to the owner of a potentially dangerous animal upon payment of the permit fees if the owner provides the following:

1.    Proof that the animal has been microchipped and microchip number is provided.

2    Two current, color, digital photographs in electronic format of the animal (minimum 3" x 5" in size), for identification purposes;

3.    Proof of current rabies vaccination;

4.    Proof the animal has been spayed or neutered; and

5.    Proof that the owner has obtained a brightly colored collar with current license tag.

The animal must wear the collar with current license tag at all times.

B.    The animal control authority may impose any or all of the following restrictions upon the owner of a potentially dangerous animal:

1.    Training. The animal control authority may require the owner of a potentially dangerous animal and the animal to attend, complete, and pay all costs associated with an obedience training class. 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, even if similar 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 the animal whenever the animal goes beyond the owner's property.

3.    Confinement. The animal control authority may require that the owner of a potentially dangerous animal keep the animal within a proper enclosure as defined in PCC 6.02.010 while on the owner's property.

4.    Warning. The animal control authority may require that the owner of a potentially dangerous animal post a warning sign as described in PCC 6.02.010.

5.    Liability Insurance. The animal control authority may require that the owner of a potentially dangerous animal purchase a policy of liability insurance (such as homeowner's insurance) issued by an insurer qualified under Title 48 RCW in an amount of up to $250,000.00, insuring the owner for any personal injuries inflicted by the potentially dangerous animal.

C.    The animal control authority may inspect the owner's premises to verify compliance with this Section.

D.    Petition to Vacate the Declaration. Where an owner has obtained a potentially dangerous animal permit and has been in compliance with the requirements of this Section for three consecutive years, the owner may submit a written petition to vacate the potentially dangerous animal declaration and to lift the associated ownership requirements.

1.    The petition shall be submitted to the animal control authority.

2.    The animal control authority will forward the petition, along with any comments, objections, and recommendations, to the Examiner.

3.    The animal control authority may request that a public hearing be scheduled to hear the petition.

4.    The Examiner may, in his discretion, grant the petition where the petitioner demonstrates, by a preponderance of evidence, that the animal no longer poses a substantial danger. Among the factors that the Examiner may consider is the age of the animal, the animal and owner's successful completion of an obedience training class, evidence of aggressive behavior or lack thereof, and any other relevant evidence.

5.    The Examiner shall issue a decision granting or denying the petition.

(Ord. 2019-66s § 2 (part), 2019; Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.050 Notification of Status of a Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous Animal.

A.    The owner of an animal that has been classified as a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal shall immediately notify the animal control authority when such animal:

1.    is loose or unconfined; or

2.    has bitten or otherwise injured a human being or attacked another animal.

B.    At least 48 hours prior to a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal being sold, given away, or moved to another location, the owner shall provide the name, address, and telephone number of the new owner to the animal control authority. The owner shall provide a copy of the declaration the new owner.

C.    When an animal classified as dangerous or potentially dangerous dies, the owner of said animal shall submit proof (vet records, etc.) to the Auditor or the Auditor's designee within ten calendar days.

(Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.060 Impoundment of Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous Animals.

Should the owner of a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal violate the conditions or restrictions of owning or possessing a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal such animal may be seized and impounded upon issuance of a warrant.

A.    The owner may prevent the animal's destruction by, within two business days, submitting a petition for the animal's immediate return.

1.    The owner shall submit the written petition to the animal control authority and the petition will be forwarded to the Examiner.

2.    Except as provided in this Chapter, the petition shall proceed in accordance with the Pierce County Hearing Examiner Code, Chapter 1.22 PCC, as an appeal of an administrative official's decision.

3.    Notice of the hearing shall be mailed to the owner at the address listed on the notice of appeal.

4.    At the public hearing, the burden shall be on the animal control authority to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that the owner failed to comply with the conditions or restrictions of owning and possessing a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal.

5.    The Examiner shall decide if the animal should be returned to the owner, subject to conditions that will bring the owner into compliance with this Chapter, or be humanely euthanized.

6.    In cases where a declaration of dangerous or potentially dangerous animal has been issued, but an appeal of the declaration is pending, the Examiner shall decide if the animal should be returned to the owner or remain in impound pending a decision on the appeal. If the Examiner decides to release the animal back to the owner, he may impose additional ownership conditions as necessary to protect the public while the appeal is pending.

7     If the Examiner allows the release of the animal, the owner shall pay all redemption, boarding, and veterinary fees and costs prior to release, except in cases where the animal control authority failed to meet its burden of proof.

B.    If a decision to euthanize the animal is rendered by the Examiner, the owner may prevent the animal's destruction by, within seven calendar days:

1.    Petitioning the District Court for the animal's immediate return, subject to court imposed conditions, and

2.    Posting a bond or security in an amount sufficient to provide for the animal's care for a minimum of 30 calendar days from the seizure date.

3.    A copy of the petition shall be served upon the animal control authority and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office the same day that the petition is filed in District Court.

4.    The burden shall be on the animal owner to prove that the decision of the Examiner was arbitrary and capricious.

5.    If the District Court finds that the Examiner's decision was arbitrary and capricious, the bond or security shall be refunded to the poster and the animal shall be released to the owner.

(Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.070 Criminal Penalties for Failure to Control or Comply with Restrictions.

A.    Any person who knowingly violates any provision of Chapter 6.07 PCC shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

B.    Any person found guilty of violating this Chapter shall pay restitution to the animal control authority for all expenses incurred in the enforcement of this Chapter, including boarding/shelter, food, and veterinary expenses.

C.    Furthermore, any dangerous or potentially dangerous animal which attacks a human being or animal may be ordered destroyed when, in the court's judgment, such dangerous or potentially dangerous animal represents a continuing threat of serious harm to human beings or animals.

(Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)

6.07.080 Duty to Comply

It is the duty of every animal owner to keep his or her animals under proper supervision and control at all times. Where an animal is declared dangerous or potentially dangerous, the duty is upon the animal owner to comply with all provisions of this Chapter. When an animal owner breaches these duties, the responsibility for any resulting injury or damage shall be on the animal owner and not the County. (Ord. 2013-10s § 5 (part), 2013)