(underlined phrases are my emphasis)
Animal Ordinance changes effective June 1, 2006
In response to citizen concerns, Westminster has adopted new rules designed to control dangerous and vicious animals in the city. The revised ordinance, effective June 1, takes aim at uninformed or irresponsible owners of animals that can cause harm to humans or other animals. The new law creates two classes of animals - potentially dangerous and vicious - with specific control measures outlined for owners. The city opted for this control method rather than a ban on specific breeds because research shows that the problem with animal bites and aggressiveness is influenced more by owner negligence than breed.
Vicious dog attacks have been much publicized in the media, and several cities in the metro area have adopted a specific pit bull dog breed ban in response.
But statistics don't confirm the need for such action in Westminster. The Westminster Police Department Animal Management officers have written 62 summonses for animal-related violations in 2006. Of those, 10 were for a vicious animal. Of the 10, more have been written for other breeds of animals than for the pit bull, including the Blue Heeler, miniature Doberman pinscher, Pomeranian, Labrador/Dalmatian mix, Siberian husky, cocker spaniel and rottweiler.
According to Animal Management officers, most often the problem behind vicious animal incidents or dog bites is irresponsible owners or owners who are uninformed of the characteristics and behaviors of a specific breed of animal and the care, control and treatment that animal requires.
Potentially dangerous animals:
The amended ordinance defines a potentially dangerous animal as one that may pose a threat to public safety by demonstrating behaviors such as chasing or menacing a person or other domestic animal without provocation
Any resident who owns a potentially dangerous animal will be required to keep that animal confined within a proper enclosure approved as satisfactory by an Animal Management officer.
The owner and animal will be required to complete a socialization and/or behavior program, and the animal must be spayed or neutered and identified through implantation of a microchip.
The owner will be required to notify the Animal Management unit if the animal has attacked a human being or other domestic animal, if the animal has escaped or is no longer in secure custody of the owner, or the ownership of the animal has been transferred to another person and provide the name, address and phone number of the new owner.
A vicious animal is defined as having a previous potentially dangerous animal conviction and which continues to be a threat to public safety. A vicious animal also is defined as an animal that causes serious bodily injury to a person or another domestic animal.
If the animal is vicious then this additional requirement goes into effect:
The requirements for possession of a vicious animal are all those outlined for the potentially dangerous animal plus the requirement that the animal can only be removed from the property by use of a cage or by use of a muzzle and restrained by a lead not exceeding four feet in length. The owner of the vicious animal must maintain a $100,000 insurance policy or surety bond which would cover claims for injuries or damage inflicted by the animal.
The intent of these requirements is to compel the animal owner to control and make modifications to the animal's behavior. Through these requirements, the city seeks to reduce the risk of a similar or more serious incident from occurring.
The city wants residents to enjoy pet ownership, but takes seriously the need to ensure the safety of the public at large. Animal Management staff welcomes the opportunity to meet with home owner associations or neighborhood groups. Any questions about the ordinance changes or new requirements can be directed to Animal Management at 303-430-2400, ext. 4325, or access of the ordinance can be made via the city's website.