FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 549
94TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES CHAPPELLE-NADAL (Sponsor), LeVOTA, NANCE, SALVA, SCHOEMEHL, EL-AMIN, BROWN (50), HUBBARD, RUCKER, HOSKINS AND NASHEED (Co-sponsors).
Read 1st time January 23, 2007 and copies ordered printed.
D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To amend chapter 273, RSMo, by adding thereto three new sections relating to dangerous dogs, with penalty provisions.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Chapter 273, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto three new sections, to be known as sections 273.500, 273.503, and 273.506, to read as follows:
273.500. As used in sections 273.500 to 273.506, the following terms shall mean:
(1) "Animal control authority", any entity having the authority to enforce the animal control laws or regulations of the state or any political subdivision of the state. In areas not served by an animal control authority, local law enforcement shall carry out the duties of the animal control authority under this section;
(2) "Animal control officer", any individual employed, contracted with, or appointed by the animal control authority to aid in the enforcement of this section or any other law or regulation relating to the licensure of animals, or control, seizure, or impoundment of animals, and includes any state or local law enforcement officer or other employee whose duties in whole or in part include assignments that involve the seizure and impoundment of any animal;
(3) "Dangerous dog", any dog, according to the records of the appropriate authority, which:
(a) When provoked and in an aggressive manner, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being;
(b) Inflicts serious injury or death on any domestic animal while off the owner's property;
(c) Has been previously determined to be and is currently listed as a potentially dangerous dog which, after its owner or keeper has been notified of such determination, continues the aggressive or threatening behavior or bites a human being or domestic animal;
(d) Has been trained or used for the purpose of dog fighting, or has been encouraged to fight or attack other animals;
(4) "Domestic animal", any dog, cat, pet, or farm animal that is kept by the owner in a domesticated environment;
(5) "Hearing entity", any neutral person designated by the animal control authority or local law enforcement who has the ability to review evidence, draw conclusions, and make a determination as to the classification of a potentially dangerous dog or dangerous dog. Such person may be an animal control officer or employee, or a law enforcement officer or employee, a county or city administrative official, or a member of the court;
(6) "Impounded", taken into the custody of the public pound or animal control department, or the provider of animal control services to a political subdivision of this state where the potentially dangerous dog or dangerous dog is found;
(7) "Potentially dangerous dog", any of the following:
(a) Any dog which, when provoked and within the immediately preceding thirty-six month period, engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any reasonable person to prevent bodily injury when the person and the dog are off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog, provided such actions are recorded and investigated by the appropriate authority;
(b) Any dog which, when provoked, inflicts a bite that causes a minor injury to a human being or domestic animal on two separate occasions;
(8) "Proper enclosure for a dangerous dog", while on the owner's property, a securely confined indoor enclosed and locked structure or pen suitable to prevent the entry of young children or other domestic animals, and which effectively prevents a dangerous dog from escaping or coming into direct contact with passers-by. Such enclosure shall be constructed with quality workmanship and substantial materials that will prevent the dog from getting under, over, or through the structure and shall provide protection from the elements;
(9) "Severe injury", any physical injury to a human being that results in muscle tears or disfiguring lacerations, or requires multiple sutures, hospitalization, or corrective or cosmetic surgery;
(10) "Unprovoked", the victim was engaged in a lawful activity and conducting himself or herself peacefully in a manner that is not abusive or threatening to the dog.
273.503. 1. If an animal control officer or law enforcement officer has investigated reported incidents in a timely manner, interviewed witnesses, and required sworn affidavits from any person, including any animal control officer or law enforcement officer, and determined that probable cause exists that a dog is dangerous, such officer shall provide the owner of the dog an opportunity for a hearing prior to making a final determination. Such officer shall notify the owner or keeper of the dog that a hearing will be held by the hearing entity, at which time the owner may present evidence as to why the dog should not be declared dangerous. The owner or keeper of the dog shall be served with notice of the hearing and a copy of the evidence, either personally or by first-class mail. The owner shall request a hearing in writing or in person to the animal control authority or local law enforcement. The hearing shall be held within not less than five business days or more than twenty-one business days after service of notice on the owner or keeper. The hearing shall be open to the public. The hearing entity may admit into evidence all relevant evidence, including incident reports and affidavits of witnesses, may limit the scope of discovery, and may shorten the time to produce records or witnesses. No jury shall be impaneled for such hearing. The hearing entity may find, upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the dog is dangerous and make other orders authorized by law. Each applicable local governing authority shall establish hearing procedures in accordance with the requirements of sections 273.500 to 273.506.
2. Any animal that is the subject of a dangerous dog investigation shall be impounded at the owner's expense by the local animal control authority or may be humanely and safely confined by the owner in a securely fenced or enclosed area pending the conclusion of the investigation and resolution of any hearings related to such dog. No dog that is the subject of a dangerous dog investigation shall be relocated or ownership transferred pending the conclusion of the investigation or any hearings related to such dog. If the dog is to be euthanized, the dog shall not be relocated or ownership transferred.
3. Upon classification of a dog as a dangerous dog, the animal control authority shall provide written notification to the owner, personally or by first-class mail, and the owner may file a written request for a court hearing within ten business days. The court or hearing entity of original jurisdiction or the court hearing the appeal shall decide all issues relating to the owner or keeper of the dog, even if the owner or keeper fails to appear at the hearing. The determination of the court hearing the appeal shall be final and conclusive upon all parties. After receipt of a written determination of a dangerous dog classification, the owner or keeper shall confine the dog in a securely fenced or enclosed area pending a resolution of any appeal. Each applicable local governing authority shall establish appeal procedures in accordance with the requirements of sections 273.500 to 273.506.
4. Within fourteen business days after a dog has been classified as dangerous and such classification is upheld on appeal, and it is determined that such dog has not been destroyed, the judicial authority shall impose conditions upon the ownership of the dog that protects the public health, safety, and welfare. Such conditions may include any of the following:
(1) A current certificate of rabies vaccination for the dog;
(2) A special license or dangerous dog registration;
(3) Implantation of a microchip;
(4) A proper enclosure for a dangerous dog;
(5) The spaying or neutering of the dog; or
(6) Proof of liability insurance in the amount of not less than one hundred thousand dollars.
5. No dog shall be declared potentially dangerous or dangerous if the threat, injury, or damage sustained by a human being who was unlawfully on the property or while lawfully on the property was teasing, tormenting, abusing, or assaulting the dog or its owner or any family member. No dog shall be declared dangerous if the dog was protecting or defending a human being within the immediate vicinity of the dog from an unjustified attack or assault. The animal control authority may take under consideration special circumstances, such as whelping bitches, animals involved in dog fights, dogs inside vehicles, injured dogs, or dogs in physical distress. No dog shall be declared potentially dangerous or dangerous if the injury or damage to a domestic animal was sustained while the dog was working as a hunting dog, herding dog, or predator control dog on the property of or under the control of its owner or keeper, and the damage or injury was to a species or type of domestic animal appropriate to the work of the dog.
273.506. 1. All potentially dangerous dogs shall be properly licensed and vaccinated. The licensing authority shall include the potentially dangerous designation in the registration records of the dog, either after the owner or keeper of the dog has agreed to the designation or the court or hearing entity has determined the designation applies to the dog. A political subdivision of the state may charge a potentially dangerous dog fee in addition to the regular license fee to provide for the increased costs of maintaining the records of the dog.
2. A potentially dangerous dog, while on the owner's property, shall at all times be kept indoors or in a securely fenced yard or enclosure from which the dog cannot escape, and into which children cannot trespass. A potentially dangerous dog shall by allowed off the owner's premises only if the dog is restrained by a substantial leash of appropriate length and if the dog is under the control of a responsible adult.
3. No potentially dangerous dog or dangerous dog shall be transferred to another owner or jurisdiction without written notification to the animal control authority or local law enforcement authority. Such authorities shall be notified of the death of any potentially dangerous dog or dangerous dog.
4. If there are no additional instances of the behavior described within a thirty-six month period from the date of designation as a potentially dangerous dog, the dog's record may be reviewed and a determination made by the animal control authority or local law enforcement authority as to whether the dog should be removed from the list of potentially dangerous dogs. The dog may be removed from such list prior to the expiration of the thirty-six month period if the owner or keeper of the dog demonstrates to the authority that a change in circumstance or measures have been taken by the owner or keeper, such as training of the dog, which mitigate the risk to public safety.
5. A dangerous dog may be euthanized by the animal control authority or local law enforcement authority when it is found, after proceedings conducted under sections 273.500 to 273.506, that the release of the dog would create a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.
6. The owner of a dangerous dog may be prohibited by a political subdivision of the state from owning, possessing, controlling, or having custody of any dog for a period of up to three years when it is found, after proceedings conducted under sections 273.500 to 273.506, that ownership or possession of a dog by such person would create a significant threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.
7. Any person who violates sections 273.500 to 273.506 involving a potentially dangerous dog shall be subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. Any person who violates sections 273.500 to 273.506 involving a dangerous dog shall be subject to a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.
8. Nothing in sections 273.500 to 273.506 shall affect or otherwise alter any existing civil or criminal liability laws regarding dogs.
9. Nothing in sections 273.500 to 273.506 shall be construed as prohibiting any political subdivision of the state from adopting or enforcing its own program for the control of potentially dangerous dogs or dangerous dogs that may incorporate all, part, or none of the provisions of sections 273.500 to 273.506, or that may impose a different penalty for violations or impose a more restrictive program to control such dogs; provided that, no program shall regulate such dogs in a manner that is specific as to breed.