Council to update law on animals that bite

Revision replaces “vicious” with categories of “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous”

CEDAR RAPIDS — A dog that bites a person now stands a better chance of a reprieve if the bite does not require the victim to get medical treatment.

That change comes in an updated city animal ordinance, which removes the word “vicious” from the ordinance and replaces it with the categories of “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous” animals.

Diane Webber, manager of the city’s Animal Care and Control operation, told the City Council last night that the current ordinance limits city officials’ options because it requires them either to euthanize an animal deemed vicious, or to move it outside the city. Most other jurisdictions also have ordinances banning vicious animals, she said, so typically the offender is euthanized.

Under the ordinance change, which the council approved unanimously, an animal previously identified as vicious — for instance, one whose bite has not required medical attention, or one who has injured another domestic animal — now can be identified as potentially dangerous and remain in the community under certain restrictions.

Once an animal is tagged as potentially dangerous, the animal control manager can require that the owner house it in a proper enclosure to prevent other people from entering or the animal from escaping. In addition, the owner must neuter or spay the animal and implant it with a microchip for identification.

The ordinance defines a dangerous animal, meanwhile, as one who attacks, bites or has a history of attacking people or other domestic animals one or more times without provocation; one who engages in or has been trained to exhibitions of fighting; or any animal found to be potentially dangerous who bites a person without provocation.The council will vote two more times before the updated wording becomes law.

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