Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Chicago has finally updated dangerous dog legislation with stiffer penalties for dog fighting and owners of dangerous dogs who fail to follow through on their obligations. Dangerous dog laws get a makeover A new ordinance designed to increase penalties for guardians of dangerous dogs went into effect April 11. The old law stated that people with dangerous dogs who failed to take measures, such as purchasing insurance, posting warning signs, and surrendering the dog to the city after a bite incident, could be charged with a small fine, of between $100 and $300. The new proposal includes fines up to $5,000 for anyone found guilty of animal cruelty or animal fighting. It also includes a $1,000 fine and jail time up to six months for those who fail to comply in dangerous dog investigations. Finally, it requires microchipping for any dog or cat that is impounded as a stray, removed for neglect, or for dangerous animal or cruelty investigation and requires that a responsible adult control any animal declared dangerous. Full story here. Chicago Municiple Code 7-12-050 Dangerous animals--Determination and requirements. The executive director shall have the authority to make a determination that an animal is a dangerous animal, as defined in Section 7-12-020, and to order the owner to comply with any of the measures set forth below for the protection of public health, safety and welfare. (a) Upon receipt of a citizen complaint or other report of an animal bite, attack, threatening behavior, or other reason to believe an animal may be a dangerous animal, the executive director or an animal control officer shall evaluate the seriousness of the complaint or report and, if the circumstances warrant, may conduct an investigation of the facts. Where practicable and readily located, the investigation shall include interviewing the complainant, the victim, if any, the animal's owner, and any witnesses, and observation of the animal and the scene. The investigator then shall make a written finding of whether an animal is a dangerous animal as defined in Section 7-12-020 and of the basis for that finding. In addition, if during the course of the investigation, the investigator uncovers evidence of inhumane treatment of any animal in violation of Section 7-12-090, he or she shall make a written finding of the specific violation and forward such to the executive director. For purposes of this section, a police report may constitute an investigation and may include a finding of dangerousness. Based upon the investigator's finding of a dangerous animal, the executive director shall declare in writing whether the animal is a dangerous animal. (b) Where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal, and the animal has caused severe injury to any person, then the executive director may order the humane destruction of the animal, where appropriate, taking into consideration the severity and the circumstances of injury. Where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal, and the animal has caused death to any person, then the executive director shall order the humane destruction of the animal. (c) In all cases where an animal is declared to be a dangerous animal and the animal is not humanely destroyed, the executive director shall order the owner to comply with the following requirements: (1) While on the owner's property, the owner must securely confine the dangerous animal indoors or within a securely enclosed and locked pen, structure, or fence, suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping. Such pen, structure, or fence must be a minimum of six feet in height and must have secure sides. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be embedded into the ground no less than two feet deep. The enclosure also must be humane and provide some protection from the elements for the animal. (2) While off of the owner's property, a dangerous animal must be muzzled securely to prevent the possibility of biting, restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length, and under the control of a responsible person at all times. The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or impair its vision or respiration but must prevent it from biting any person or animal. (3) The owner must display, in a conspicuous manner, a sign on the owner's premises warning that a dangerous animal is on the premises by stating in capital letters: "Warning--Dangerous Animal--Keep Away." The sign must be visible and legible from the public way and from 50 feet away from the special enclosure required pursuant to subsection (c)(1) above. (4) The owner, at the owner's expense, shall have an identifying microchip installed under the animal's skin by a veterinarian authorized by the executive director. (5) The animal shall be spayed or neutered, at the owner's expense. (6) Within ten business days of the declaration that the animal is a dangerous animal, the owner must procure and maintain in effect liability insurance, including coverage of claims arising from the conduct of the owner's animal, in an amount not less than $100,000.00. The insurance shall include a provision whereby the insurer notifies the executive director not less than 30 days prior to cancellation or lapse of coverage. In addition, the executive director may order the owner to comply with any of the following requirements, in any combination: (7) The owner must confine the dangerous animal to the secure enclosure described above in subsection (c)(1) at all times and only allow the animal out under the conditions set forth in subsection (c)(2) when it is necessary to obtain veterinary care for the animal or to comply with a court order. (8) The owner and the animal must complete a course of animal obedience training approved by the commission. In the alternative to (1)--(8) above, the executive director may order that the dangerous animal shall be permanently barred from the city limits. (d) Where the owner's address can be reasonably ascertained, the executive director shall send written notice to the owner, by certified mail, stating that his or her animal has been declared a dangerous animal, describing the basis for such declaration by specific behavior and date(s) of occurrence, setting forth all applicable orders and restrictions imposed reason of such declaration, and informing the owner of his or her right to appeal such determination by filing a written request for a hearing within seven days of receipt of the notice. A copy of such notice shall be sent to the complainant, if any. Where the animal has been impounded pursuant to subsection (f) below, such notice shall be sent within 15 days after such impoundment. (e) If the owner requests a hearing, the executive director, if the department of administrative hearings has not exercised jurisdiction in accordance with Section 2-14-190(c) of this Code, or the department of administrative hearings, if the office has exercised jurisdiction in accordance with Section 2-14-190(c) of this Code, shall appoint an administrative law officer who shall hold a hearing, at which all interested parties may present testimony and any other relevant evidence, within 15 days of the request. The hearing shall be taped or recorded by other appropriate means. If the administrative law officer upholds the executive director's determination that the animal is dangerous, the owner shall have 30 days to satisfy all requirements set out in subsection (c) and the notice. In those cases where the executive director has ordered humane destruction of the dangerous animal, that order shall not be carried out until seven days after the hearing; if the owner appeals to the circuit court during that time period, that order shall be stayed until resolution of such appeal. (f) Where there is probable cause to believe that an animal is a dangerous animal, the executive director or his designee is authorized to impound and hold such animal, at the owner's expense, pending the investigation and final resolution of any appeals. Where the animal has caused severe injury or death to any person, the executive director or his designee is required to impound and hold such animal, at the owner's expense, pending the investigation and final resolution of any appeals. Moreover, in no event shall a dangerous animal be released to its owner before the executive director or his designee approves the enclosure required by subsection (c)(1). The holding period and impoundment procedures for animals of unknown ownership shall be governed by Section 7-12-060. (g) Guard dogs and dogs which have been found to be "vicious dogs" under state law, both of which are defined in Section 7-12-020 above as dangerous animals, automatically are required to comply with the requirements of Section 7-12-050(c)(1)--(3) without the need for any individualized declaration or the right to any hearing, except that, to the extent an owner disputes the fact that his or her animal is used as a guard dog by a commercial venture, in such instances the protections set forth above shall apply. (Added Coun. J. 10-2-95, p. 8604; Amend Coun. J. 7-10-96, p. 24983; Amend Coun. J. 11-12-97, p. 56814; Amend Coun. J. 4-29-98, p. 66565; Amend Coun. J. 10-31-01, p. 71774, § 2) 7-12-051 Dangerous animals--Violations. (a) Any owner who fails to comply with any of the requirements of Section 7-12-050(c) and any additional orders of the executive director as authorized by that subsection shall be punished by a fine of not less than $200.00 nor more than $500.00 for the first offense, and not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00 for the second offense. Any subsequent offenses shall be punished as a misdemeanor by incarceration for a term not to exceed six months. In addition to the penalties set forth above, the executive director may order an owner who violates Section 7-12-050(c) to attend with his or her animal a course of animal obedience training approved by the commission. (b) Any animal which has been declared a dangerous animal and which (1) is seen outside and not confined within the enclosure required by Section 7-12-050(c)(1), and not muzzled and under control as required by Section 7-12-050(c)(2), or (2) thereafter attacks or injures a person or domestic animal, may be impounded by an animal control officer or a police officer, at the owner's expense, and the executive director may order the owner to comply with any of the alternatives set forth in Section 7-12-050(b) and (c), including humane destruction of the animal. The owner shall be entitled to notice and an opportunity for a hearing in the same manner as provided in Section 7-12-050(d) and (e) above. (Added Coun. J. 10-2-95, p. 8604) 7-12-052 Dangerous animals--Miscellaneous. (a) Every owner of a dangerous animal shall allow inspection of the required enclosure by the executive director or his designee. (b) All dangerous animals as defined in this chapter are hereby declared to be a public nuisance; provided that they are lawful if maintained in strict compliance with the requirements set out in Section 7-12-050(c). (c) The executive director and/or the commission are hereby authorized to enact regulations governing dangerous animals as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the public. (d) Where an animal has caused severe injury or death to any person, but it is not found to be a dangerous animal on the grounds that the attack was provoked, the executive director shall advise the owner to comply with the safety measures set forth in Section 7-12-050(c) in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare. Many people have no idea such legislation exists, much less how to request a dangerous dog investigation. Two years ago, when my client's dog was killed by an off leash male pit bull, I did not know the proceedure. It took many phone calls to the Chicago Police Department, Animal Care and Control and the Dog Advisory Work Group to get answers. Here are the answers. In the case of a mauling or death of a human, a dangerous dog investigation will immediately be initiated. However, the mauling or death of an animal will not trigger the same investigation unless it is requested. After any reported dog bite, Animal Care and Control will mail an affidavit for you to fill out. It is a one page form that states the details and the whereabouts of the occurance. Fill it out. To it, attach a personal testimonial of the occurence and specifically ask that animal care and control follow through with a dangerous dog investigation. Attach to this testimonial, pictures of the wounds inflicted, doctors reports and medical bills. If there were witnesses who are willing to attach statements, add those as well. Crucial to the testimony needs to be the voracity of the attack, was the attack on public or private property and whether the attack was provoked. Also important to this information is the presence and attitude of the owner. There will be two court trials, both at the city court on Superior. One to determine if the incident happened. One to determine if the dog will or will not be deemed dangerous, once Animal Care and Control deem the dog should be classified as a dangerous dog. If a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner must follow through with the demands of the court. However, at fines between $100 and $300 and the knowledge that Animal Care and Control cannot stay on top of every owner's compliance, they often do not follow through. I would like to see even stricter penalties in place. I rode by 2532 West Estes yesterday to check on the home of the owner of the pit bull who killed my clients dog. No signage was posted on her property. I have two conclusions I can derive. One, she got rid of the dog or put him down. Two, she is not in compliance. The other interesting detail was her tenant, who testified to the nature of the animal in court, has moved and she has a for rent sign on her property. Could the dog have hurt the tenants children? Believe me, I intend to report her and find out!!!