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Public hearing on animal-control ordinance is Tuesday

September 26, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

The Washington County Commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday on proposed revisions to the county's animal-control ordinance, including a change to how the county handles animals that attack people or other pets.

The changes, which have been in the works for years, were designed to address common issues and complaints about the ordinance, officials have said.

One change would create a two-tiered system for dealing with animals that attack or threaten people or pets without provocation.

Currently, animals can be labeled "vicious and dangerous" after only one attack. Once given that label, they must be kept in a confined building or secure enclosure, and cannot be let out unless muzzled, leashed and controlled. If the owner violates those rules, the animal can be impounded and potentially euthanized.

The proposed version would add a less-severe designation of "potentially vicious and dangerous" that is removed if the animal goes 18 months without another offense.

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With that new category in place, only the most severe offenders -- animals that attack twice in 18 months or cause severe injuries -- would be deemed "vicious and dangerous."

Other changes are aimed at making it easier to fill the membership of the Animal Control Authority, the five-member board that meets once a month to decide cases related to the animal-control ordinance.

Under the proposed changes, the members of the authority "may, but need not be, compensated," while the current ordinance prohibits compensation.

In addition, the need for profession-specific members, such as a veterinarian and a member of the legal profession, would be loosened. Under the revised version, a reasonable effort to find such members would be required, but lack of such representation would not invalidate or compromise the group's authority.

A document showing the current text and revisions is available at http://www.washco-md.net.




If you go ...



What: Public hearing on revisions to Washington County's animal-control ordinance

When: Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Where: County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St., room 227

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