TOWN OF FRANKLIN

ORDINANCE REGULATING DOGS AND WOLF-HYBRIDS

 

SECTION 1. AUTHORITY.  This ordinance is adopted by the Selectboard of the Town of Franklin under authority of 20 V.S.A. § 3549, 24 V.S.A. §§ 2291 (10), (14), and (15), and 24 V.S.A. Chapter 59.

 

SECTION 2.  PURPOSE.  The purpose of this ordinance is to regulate the keeping of dogs and wolf hybrids, to protect the public health and safety and to protect the Town residents’ quiet enjoyment of their homes and properties.  This Ordinance supersedes all previous versions of dog and animal control ordinances and policies in the Town of Franklin.

 

SECTION 3.  DEFINITIONS.  For purposes of this ordinance, the following words and phrases shall apply:

 

A. “Dog” means any member of the canine species.  For purposes of this ordinance, this term shall also include “wolf-hybrids” except as otherwise stated.

 

B.  "Domestic animal" means cattle, sheep, goats, equines, deer, American bison, swine, poultry, pheasant, Chukar partridge, Coturnix quail, psittacine birds, ferrets, camelids, ratites (ostriches, rheas, and emus), and water buffalo. The term shall include cultured fish propagated by commercial fish farms.

 

C.  “Enforcement Officer” means any Town Constable, Police Officer, Animal Control Officer, Humane Officer, or any other person designated as an Enforcement Officer by the Selectboard. 

 

D.  “Impoundment” means being held by the Town at a place designated by the Selectboard. Such place may or may not be operated by the Town, and may or may not be within Town limits.

 

E. “Owner” means any person who has actual or constructive possession of a dog. The term also includes those persons who provide food and shelter to a dog.

 

F.   Potentially vicious dog” means a dog that, while running at large: inflicts minor injuries on a person not necessitating medical attention; chases, worries, threatens to attack or attacks another domestic pet or domestic animal; causes damage to personal or real property; chases a person; or causes any person to reasonably fear attack or bodily injury from such dog. This definition shall not apply if the dog was protecting or defending itself, its offspring, another domestic pet or animal or a person from attack or assault or the person attacked or threatened by the dog was engaged in teasing, tormenting, battering, assaulting, injuring or otherwise provoking the dog.

 

G.  “Premises” means the home and real property of the dog owner.

 

H. Running at large” means that a dog is not:

         1.  on a leash; or

         2.  in a vehicle; or

         3.  on the owner’s premises; or

         4.  clearly under the verbal or non-verbal control of the owner.

 

I.Wolf hybrid” means an animal that:

      1.   is the progeny of a dog and a wolf (Canis lupus or Canis rufus); or

      2.   is advertised or otherwise described or represented to be a wolf hybrid; or

      3.   exhibits primary physical and/or behavioral wolf characteristics.

 

SECTION 4.  NUISANCES. 

 An owner of a dog shall not allow, permit, or suffer such dog to create a nuisance. The following activities shall be deemed nuisances:

A: Lack of current license and/or rabies tag

A dog without a collar or harness with the current license and/or valid rabies tag securely attached.

B: Running at large

A dog running at large in the Town.

C: Failure to remove waste

A dog that defecates in any public area or on the private premises of another person and whose owner does not immediately remove the fecal material and dispose of it in a sanitary manner.

D: Unconfined dog in heat

A female dog in heat not confined to a building or other secured enclosure, except while under the direct control of the owner.

E: Disturbing the Peace

A dog that disturbs the quiet, comfort and repose of others by barking, whining, calling, or howling for a continuous period of time.

F: Potentially vicious dog

A dog that while running at large: inflicts minor injuries on a person not necessitating medical attention; chases, worries, threatens to attack or attacks another domestic pet or domestic animal; causes damage to personal or real property; chases a person; or causes any person to reasonably fear attack or bodily injury from such dog. This definition shall not apply if the dog was protecting or defending itself, its offspring, another domestic pet or animal or a person from attack or assault or the person attacked or threatened by the dog was engaged in teasing, tormenting, battering, assaulting, injuring or otherwise provoking the dog. 

 

SECTION 5.  COLLAR AND LICENSE.  Each dog shall be licensed according to the laws of this State and shall wear a collar or harness with the current license attached.  A dog that is visiting from out of state must wear a collar or harness with a current license from its home state attached.  A dog that is found without a collar or harness and license shall be in violation of this Ordinance and may be immediately impounded.

 

SECTION 6.  ENFORCEMENT.  A violation of this Ordinance shall be a civil matter which may be enforced in the Vermont Judicial Bureau or in the Franklin County Superior Court, at the election of the Selectboard as the Enforcement Officer.  

 

Violations enforced in the Judicial Bureau shall be in accordance with the provisions of 24 V.S.A. §§ 1974a and 1977 et seq.  For purposes of enforcement in the Judicial Bureau, any Enforcement Officer shall have authority to issue tickets and represent the Town at any hearing.

 

Violations enforced in the Superior Court shall be in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Town may pursue all appropriate injunctive relief. 

 

SECTION 7.  PENALTIES AND COSTS.

 

A.  The Enforcement Officer is authorized to recover civil penalties for violations of this Ordinance in the following amounts for each violation:

 

      First offense:                                written warning to owner

      Second offense:                          impoundment costs plus $100 fine   Waiver fee: $75

      Third and subsequent offense: impoundment costs plus $500 fine  Waiver fee: $400     

 

                                          *If impoundment is at the residence of the Animal Control Officer; the Selectboard shall set the impoundment costs annually.  Otherwise impoundment costs will be billed by the impounding agency. 

                                          * The owner of the dog or wolf-hybrid will be responsible for reimbursing all legal fees incurred by Town. 

 

B.  The Enforcement Officer is authorized to recover a waiver fee in lieu of a civil penalty, in the stated amount, for any person who declines to contest a municipal complaint and pays the waiver fee.

 

C.  Determining the sequences of offenses for violations of this Ordinance shall be as follows: a subsequent violation that is similar to, and that occurs within 3 months of a previous violation shall be considered a higher offense (i.e., second, third, or subsequent offense).

     

D. Reckless Dog Owner. Any owner who has violated this Ordinance  2  times, whether the offenses are similar or not, within a 12 month period shall provide proof to the Enforcement Officer of successful completion of a behavior modification program, pre-approved by the Selectboard, and designed to improve the owner’s understanding of dog ownership responsibilities, within 3 months from the date of notification. The Enforcement Officer shall issue a notification of this requirement, in writing by regular mail postage prepaid, to the owner’s last known address. Failure to provide such certification within the time allotted shall subject the offending dog(s) to immediate seizure and impoundment.

 

E.  For purposes of calculating the sequence of offenses, offenses shall be counted against the owner.

 

F.  A warning shall not be counted towards the calculation of the number of offenses under this Ordinance.

     

SECTION 8.  IMPOUNDMENT.

 

A.  Grounds for Impoundment. Any dog may be immediately impounded if the dog:

1.      has been determined by an Enforcement Officer to be a "potentially vicious dog," which presents an imminent danger to people or other animals;

2.      has reportedly bitten a person off the premises of its owner;

3.      has an unknown rabies vaccination history or is suspected of having been exposed to rabies;

4.      is running at large

 

 

B.  Notice of Impoundment. The officer who impounds a dog shall, within twenty-four (24) hours, give notice to the owner thereof either personally, by telephone call, or by regular mail postage prepaid at the owner’s last known address.  Such notice shall inform the owner of the nature of the violations, the dog’s location, and the necessary steps to have it returned to the owner.

 

If the owner of the dog is unknown, the officer who impounds a dog shall, within twenty-four (24) hours of impoundment, post a public notice.  Notification shall be posted in the town clerk’s office and other usual places for public notice for a ten (10) calendar day period. The public notice shall include a description of the dog, including any significant marks of identification, and when and where it was impounded or found by the person placing the dog in the town’s custody. The public notice must also declare that, unless the owner 1) claims the dog, 2) pays all expenses incurred by the town for treatment, boarding and care of the dog, and any applicable penalties, and 3) takes all necessary remedial action within ten (10) calendar days following posting, the town may place the dog in an adoptive home or transfer it to a humane society or rescue organization. If the dog cannot be placed in an adoptive home or transferred to a humane society or rescue organization, it may be destroyed in a humane way.   

 

C.   Release from Impoundment. Impounded dogs shall be released to the owner only after payment of all penalties and impoundment fees (including, but not limited to, boarding, food, and veterinary expenses), the final disposition of a potentially vicious dog or vicious dog hearing if applicable, and after all necessary remedial action, as determined by the enforcement officer in consideration of the violation committed, is taken by the owner.  Remedial action shall include, but is not limited to, such actions as providing a collar and current license; verification of certification of current vaccination against rabies; payment of all applicable fines or waiver fees; and proof of satisfactory successful completion of a program designed to improve the owner’s understanding and execution of dog ownership responsibilities.

 

If the owner of a dog impounded under the provisions of this ordinance refuses to take the remedial action necessary to secure the dog’s release within ten (10) calendar days following notice of impoundment or gives notice either personally, by telephone call, or in writing to the town of forfeiture of ownership before that time, the dog may be placed in an adoptive home, transferred to a humane society or rescue organization; or, if the town is unable to transfer the dog, it may be humanely destroyed.  The owner of a dog transferred or humanely destroyed shall remain liable for all expenses incurred by the Town for treatment, boarding and care of the dog for the duration of its impoundment, and any expenses associated with its transfer or humane disposal.

 

D.  Rabies Suspect. The procedures provided in this section shall only apply if the dog is not a rabies suspect.  If an official designated by the Selectboard to enforce the provisions of this ordinance determines that the dog is a rabies suspect, the Selectboard shall immediately notify the Town Health Officer who shall proceed in accordance with the Vermont Department of Health’s rules.

SECTION 9.  INVESTIGATION OF VICIOUS DOGS. 

A.  Complaint. When a dog has bitten a person while the dog is off the premises of its owner or keeper, and the person bitten requires medical attention for the attack, such person may file a written complaint with the Selectboard of the municipality. The complaint shall contain the time, date, and place where the attack occurred, the name and address of the victim or victims, and any other facts that may assist the Selectboard in conducting its investigation.

B.  Investigation and Hearing. The Selectboard, within seven (7) calendar days from receipt of the complaint, shall investigate the charges and hold a hearing on the matter. If the owner of the dog which is the subject of the complaint can be ascertained with due diligence, said owner shall be provided with a written notice of the time, date, and place of hearing and a copy of the complaint.

C.   Protective Order. If, after a hearing on the matter, the dog is found to have bitten the victim without provocation, the Selectboard shall make such order for the protection of persons as the facts and circumstances of the case may require, including, without limitation, that the dog is disposed of in a humane way, muzzled, chained, or confined. The order shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner. A person who, after receiving notice, fails to comply with the terms of the order shall be subject to the penalties provided in 20 V.S.A. § 3550. 

D.  Rabies suspect. The procedures provided in this section shall only apply if the dog is not a rabies suspect. If a member of the Selectboard or an Enforcement Officer determines that the dog is a rabies suspect, the Selectboard shall immediately notify the Town Health Officer who shall proceed in accordance with the Vermont Department of Health’s rules. If the dog is deemed healthy, the terms and conditions set forth in the Selectboard’s order shall be enforced.

SECTION 11. OTHER LAWS.  This ordinance is in addition to all other ordinances of the Town of Franklin and all applicable laws of the State of Vermont.  All ordinances or parts of ordinances, resolutions, regulations, or other documents inconsistent with the provisions of this ordinance are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.

 

SECTION 12.  SEVERABILITY.  If any section of this ordinance is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such finding shall not invalidate any other part of this ordinance.

 

SECTION 13.  EFFECTIVE DATE.  This ordinance shall become effective 60 days after its adoption by the Selectboard.  If a petition is filed under 24 V.S.A. § 1973, that statute shall govern the taking effect of this ordinance.

 

Adopted this 21st day of November, 2019.

 

SIGNATURES:

 

      _____________________________                         ______________________________

 

      _____________________________                         _______________________________

 

      _____________________________

 

      _____________________________

 

      _____________________________

Adoption History

 

1.   Agenda item at regular Selectboard meeting held on October 2 & 16, 2019.

2.   Read and approved at regular/special Selectboard meeting on November 20, 2019 and entered in the minutes of that meeting which were approved on December 4, 2019.

3.   Posted in public places on November 21, 2019.

4.   Notice of adoption published in the St. Albans Messenger newspaper on November 23, 2109 with a notice of the right to petition.

5.   Other actions [petitions, etc.]