September 22, 2022 |
Rawlins City Council passed on second reading Tuesday an amendment to Title 6. The new language seeks to clarify the responsibilities and consequences associated with nuisance and vicious animals.
At first hearing of the amendment earlier this month, City Attorney Gwendolyn Wade said that the current ordinance is not prosecutable in court because the definitions of nuisance and vicious animals, as well as the responsibilities of their owners, are inadequate in the existing code. Wade said she has had to dismiss four cases involving unprovoked dog attacks because she cannot bring charges.
A recent attack in which a woman suffered injuries that required medical care led to the rewrite.
Council has elected not to read the ordinance at either first or second reading. The new language defines a “nuisance animal” as any domestic breed which trespasses on public or private property, is at large, causing damage of any kind, or which disturbs the peace, sleep, rest and tranquility of a neighborhood or person.
A “vicious” animal is defined as “an animal which attacks, bites or menaces persons or other animals in any public or private place without just provocation.”
The amendment makes keeping or harboring a vicious animal a misdemeanor violation. Testimony of animal control officers or police officers based on personal observation will be used in court cases.
Pictured above: File photo of Rawlins City Hall. Photo by Cali O’Hare/Bigfoot 99.
Citizens can keep a pet that has been convicted one time of a vicious dog offense, but under strict guidelines defined in the code. For instance, when outside, the animal must be on an adequate leash and the leash must be in the hand of a person physically able to control the dog. The offending dog also must be spayed or neutered, chipped and photographed.
The city attorney Tuesday night addressed social media posts that express some miscomprehensions about the amendment. Wade said she wanted to clarify what the new language in the ordinance does.
The amendment carries a three-strike clause. It states that if a person has been convicted of harboring an animal for the third time or subsequent time of being vicious, the court shall order that animal to be surrendered and subsequently destroyed.
Councilwoman Jacqueline Wells said the newly crafted ordinance is overdue.
The Title 6 amendment passed with no further discussion on a 7-0 vote. It will come for a third and final reading at the next council meeting.