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The ordinance exempts situations when animals were provoked into biting.
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No. This ordinance only applies to new cases since the ordinance went into effect. However, if an animal has a known history of aggressive behavior and/or biting, if there is a new incident involving this animal then its history will be taken into account in determining the categorization.
Barking or other annoyance behaviors are not addressed under this ordinance. Barking at the fence line does not necessarily mean the animal is vicious. Animals are naturally territorial. Barking, growling and jumping are considered normal territorial behaviors for dogs.
If the dog is pulling or lunging, bearing its teeth, hackles up, these are signs of more aggressive behavior, as are repeated charging, snarling, biting, and lunging without provocation. There are specific criteria for a dog to be declared vicious such as the tendency to attack without provocation, to cause injury or to threaten the safety of a person or other domestic animal, or harbored for the purpose of fighting.
Vicious behavior first needs to be logged and documented. Keep a log with dates, times, and detailed circumstances and take photos and videos.
Contact the Animal Control Office at (734) 466-2655 for investigation and follow up. Please note investigation requires a complainant who cannot remain anonymous if it results in a formal vicious or potentially vicious classification of the animal or a ticket.
This ordinance is not breed specific and owning a pit bull is not against the law. This ordinance is behavior-based, so the animal would need to exhibit vicious behavior in order for the situation to be addressed.
The ordinance excludes trespassers on the dog's property, in other words, the animal has a right to defend your home against intruders engaged in unlawful activity. Trespassers do not include anyone engaged in a lawful activity such as postal carriers, meter readers, visitors, or strangers knocking on your door for legitimate purposes. "Trespassers" also, importantly, do not include children running across the property line onto your property to get a ball, etc. In these situations, the animal should be restrained from contact as the owner is responsible for biting, attacks, etc. on their property and the dog could be categorized as vicious or potentially vicious.
Fences are meant not only to confine and keep in but also serve to keep others out. In general, if an animal is contained by an invisible fence that is not evident to a person or animal that strays within its boundaries, the owner is still liable if the enclosed animal attacks or bites. If you are using an invisible fence we strongly encourage you to post a notice.
More serious consequences are now proscribed by this ordinance than in the past. These include containment on the animal in a six-sided structure with a lock, use of a leash and muzzle in public, and requirement of liability insurance. Owners are also limited to no more than one vicious or potentially vicious dog on their property. There are also requirements for spaying/neutering, microchipping, and obedience training.
Formal tracking is required which includes notifying the police department if the animal escapes, of any changes in address, and upon the death or sale of the animal. Owners who have an animal classified as such will be given a copy of the ordinance and our Animal Control officers will work with them to ensure their compliance and help with their success in keeping the public safe.
There are serious consequences of not remaining within the ordinance requirements, which may include immediate confiscation of the animal at the owner's expense. They could also lose the right to keep the animal which could lead to the destruction of the animal. Animal Control officers will do routine periodic inspections and will follow up on any reports of problems.