The purpose of this chapter is to license and regulate the activities of dogs and other animals within the City to ensure the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens.
Unless the context specifically indicates otherwise, the meanings of the terms used in these regulations shall be as follows:
- For the purpose of this chapter, a domestic animal.
- ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER
- A certified municipal animal control officer or, in the absence of such an officer, the chief law enforcement officer of the City or his designee.
- ATTACK DOG
- Any dog or dog hybrid trained or baited to attack persons or animals. No attack dog may be maintained in or upon residential premises within the City, and no attack dog shall be maintained on any nonresidential property within the City except in strict compliance with the requirements of N.J.S.A. 4:19-24(a)(1) through (3) and this chapter.
- Any person who takes care of the house or land of an owner who may be absent and is responsible for the keeping of a dog.
- Any dog or dog hybrid.
- DOG OF LICENSING AGE
- A dog which has attained the age of seven months or which possesses a set of permanent teeth.
- DOMESTIC ANIMAL
- Any cat, dog or livestock other than poultry.
- Any structure used to restrict a dog or dogs to a limited amount of space, such as a pen, run, cage or compartment.
- GUARD DOG
- Any dog trained to attack a person at the command or instruction of a trainer. No guard dog may be maintained upon residential premises within the City except in strict compliance with the requirements of N.J.S.A. 4:19-24(a)(1) through (3) and this chapter.
- Any person in immediate physical charge of a dog.
- Any establishment or premises where the business of boarding or selling dogs or breeding dogs for sale is carried on, except a pet shop.
- A chain, strap, cord or harness of sufficient substance to hold the animal under control and shall be no longer than 15 feet.
- Defecation or urination, destruction of property, disturbing the peace, emitting noxious odors, or otherwise endangering or offending the well-being of the inhabitants of the City.
- Any adult having an ownership interest in an animal or an adult who keeps or harbors an animal on or about his or her premises. When applied to proprietorship of a dog, means every person having a right of property in that dog and every person who has that dog in his or her keeping.
- An enclosure for dogs.
- A natural person, association, corporation, firm, partnership, trust or other legal entity.
- PET SHOP
- Any room or group of rooms, cage or exhibition pen, not part of a kennel, where dogs or other animals are kept or displayed for sale.
- POLICE DOG
- A dog actively engaged by a law enforcement agency to aid in its law enforcement duties.
- POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS DOG
- Any dog declared potentially dangerous by a Municipal Court pursuant to state law (N.J.S.A. 4:19-23).
- An establishment for the confinement of dogs seized either under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16, this chapter or otherwise.
- Any parcel of land and any structures located thereon.
- RUNNING AT LARGE
- To be free of physical restraint or control beyond the boundaries of the premises of the owner.
- Any establishment where dogs or other animals are received, housed and distributed.
- Any animal found running at large.
- Any person who trains or owns an attack dog or guard dog or from whom an attack dog or guard dog takes commands or instructions.
- VICIOUS DOG
- Any dog declared vicious by a Municipal Court pursuant to state law (N.J.S.A. 4:19-22).
License. Any person who shall own, keep or harbor a dog of licensing age shall apply for and procure from the City Clerk a license and official metal registration tag for each dog and shall place upon each dog a collar or harness with the registration tag securely fastened thereto.
Contents of application. The application for a license shall contain the name and address of the owner of the dog and the person who shall keep or harbor the dog, a short description of the dog, including breed, sex, age, color and markings, and proof of current rabies vaccination for the period of the license sought. The application form is available on the Somers Point website and may be filed in person or by mail. This information and the registration number shall be preserved for three years and shall be forwarded to the State Department of Health as required by law.
Official metal registration tag. The official metal registration tag for each dog shall be securely fastened on the dog's collar or harness and shall be maintained there at all times unless removed with the consent of the owner or by the Animal Control Officer. In no event shall a dog be off the premises of the owner without the official metal registration tag securely fastened to the dog's collar or harness. No person shall attach a registration tag to a dog for which it was not issued.
Evidence of inoculation. No license and official metal registration tag shall be issued for any dog unless the owner provides evidence that the dog to be licensed and registered has been inoculated with a rabies vaccine as required by federal law and state law.
Attack dogs and guard dogs. Any person who shall own, keep or harbor an attack dog or guard dog as defined herein shall notify the Animal Control Warden and the Chief of Police and shall apply for a license and official metal registration tag within 72 hours from the time when the dog is brought on the premises within the City.
Potentially dangerous dogs. When a dog has been declared by a Municipal Court to be a potentially dangerous dog pursuant to state law, a special license and special registration tag shall be issued pursuant to N.J.S.A. 4:19-30. Said license and registration tag shall be applied for within 72 hours from the time when the Court declaration is made.
License for kennel, pet shop, shelter and pound. Any person who operates or proposes to establish a kennel, pet shop, shelter, or pound shall apply to the City Clerk for a license to operate such an establishment. Said applicant shall comply with N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.8 and the applicable development regulations of the City set forth in Chapter 114 of the Somers Point Municipal Code and shall be further subject to review and approval by the Somers Point Code Enforcement Officer.
No property within the City shall have or maintain five or more dogs of licensing age unless the property is licensed as a kennel, pet shop, shelter, or pound.
Notification. The City Clerk or his or her designee shall notify the Fire Department, Police Department and Rescue Squad servicing the municipality of the fact that an animal has been registered as an attack dog, guard dog or a dog which has been declared potentially dangerous pursuant to state law.
Any person who shall own, keep or harbor a dog of licensing age shall annually apply for and procure a license and official metal registration tag for the dog during the period from January 1 through March 31. The license and registration tag shall expire on December 31.
The owner of any newly acquired dog of licensing age or of any dog which attains licensing age during the calendar year shall make application for a license and registration tag for such dog within 10 days of such acquisition or age attainment.
Any person who shall bring or cause to be brought into the City an unlicensed dog of licensing age who shall permit the dog to be kept within the City for a period of more than 10 days shall immediately apply for a license and registration tag for such dog.
Any person who shall bring or cause to be brought into this City a dog licensed within another state and bearing a license registration tag that shall keep the dog or permit the dog to remain within the City for a period of more than 90 days shall immediately apply for a license and registration tag for such dog.
Imposition of fees.
The sum payable for a dog license and each renewal thereof shall be as follows:
Each license shall be in effect for an annual registration period commencing on January 1 of each calendar year and expiring on December 31 of each calendar year. No license fee shall be prorated.
A late fee in the amount of $20 shall be assessed in addition to the license fee for any license which is not paid by July 1 of each registration calendar year. The late fee and penalty provision in this section shall not apply to any license for any dog which was not owned, harbored, kept or maintained in the City of Somers Point until after June 20 of each registration calendar year.
[Amended 3-12-2015 by Ord. No. 7-2015]
Disposition of fees.
The disposition of license fees and other moneys collected under the provisions of this chapter shall be as follows:
Portion of fees to be disbursed to the State of New Jersey; the portion of each such fee collected for each dog shall be forwarded to the State Department of Health within 30 days following receipt:
Balance of fees retained by the City. Such remaining fees shall be forwarded to the Chief Financial Officer and shall be placed in a special account separate from other accounts maintained by the City and used for the following purposes only:
The collecting, keeping and disposing of dogs and other animals liable to seizure.
Local prevention and control of rabies.
Providing antirabies treatment under the direction of the County Health Department for a person exposed to rabies.
All other purposes permitted by state law governing the subject.
Any unexpected balance remaining in this special account shall be retained therein until the end of the third fiscal year and may be used for any of the purposes set forth in this section. At the end of the third fiscal year and at the end of each fiscal year thereafter, there shall be transferred from the special account to the general funds of the City any amount then in the special account which is in excess of the total amount paid into the special account during the previous two fiscal years.
The registration tag.
Dogs used as guides for blind persons and commonly known as "Seeing Eye" dogs, dogs used to assist handicapped persons and commonly known as "service dogs," or dogs used to assist deaf persons and commonly known as "hearing ear dogs" shall be licensed and registered as other dogs, except that the owner or keeper of such dog shall not be required to pay any fee.
Police dogs on active duty and not retired are likewise exempt from the payment of any fee.
Disturbance of the peace. No person shall own, keep or harbor any dog or other animal which habitually barks, howls or cries and thereby disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood and creates a nuisance at any time of the day or night.
Leashing. No person owning, keeping or harboring any dog or similar animal shall permit it to be upon a public street, sidewalk, thoroughfare, park, playground or school yard or in any of the public places of the City unless it is controlled by an adequate leash or tether not more than 15 feet long, unless it is a property upon which dogs are prohibited such as specified in Article II of this chapter, or otherwise.
Nuisance prohibited. No person owning, keeping or harboring any dog or other animal shall cause or allow said animal to soil, defile, deface or defecate on, or commit any nuisance on any public property. The person in charge of such animal shall immediately remove all feces deposited by such animal by any sanitary method. This same provision applies to any private property when the activities of the animal occur without permission of the property owner.
Property damage. No person owning, keeping or harboring a dog or other animal shall permit it to do any injury or to do any damage to any lawn, shrubbery, flowers, grounds, garden or property of another person unless consented to by the other person.
Running at large. No person owning, keeping or harboring any dog or other animal shall permit the animal to run at large, outside of the control of the owner, on public property or private property off the premises of the owner.
Muzzled. An attack dog, guard dog, or a dog declared by a Municipal Court to be potentially dangerous pursuant to state law shall be muzzled at all times when the animal is off the premises of the owner or when the animal is off the premises of a person harboring or keeping said animal.
Fence and containment. No attack dog, guard dog, or a dog declared by a Municipal Court to be potentially dangerous pursuant to state law shall be at any time be left or maintained or kept in an unsecured place. "Unsecured" shall mean an area that is not fenced in with a fence at least six feet high and leashed with a leash of sufficient weight and quality to maintain, control and restrain said dog or animal. The fence shall be subject to approval by the Code Enforcement Officer of the City of Somers Point.
Posting of signs. The owner or other person in control of an attack dog, guard dog or dog declared by a Municipal Court to be potentially dangerous pursuant to state law shall post signs on the premises where the dog is maintained stating one of the following: "Warning: Attack Dog on Premises," "Warning: Guard Dog on Premises" or "Warning: Dangerous Dog on Premises," and which shall be legible from 50 feet of the enclosure where the animal is kept. The enclosure shall be as required by N.J.S.A. 4:19-24a(3).
Public places. No aggressive breed dog, attack dog, guard dog, or a dog declared by a Municipal Court to be potentially dangerous pursuant to state law shall be permitted inside public buildings, public parks, public ball fields, public beaches and public recreational areas owned, controlled by or under the jurisdiction of the City.
The provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-17 through 4:19-37 governing vicious and potentially dangerous dogs are incorporated herein by reference.
When a Municipal Court has declared a dog to be a potentially dangerous dog, it may require the owner to maintain liability insurance in an amount not to exceed $100,000 in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-24b. The liability insurance shall contain a provision requiring the municipality in which the owner resides to be named as an additional insured for the sole purpose of being notified by the insurance company of any cancellation, termination or expiration of the liability insurance policy, and the owner shall provide a current certificate of insurance properly endorsed which provides not less than 30 days notice to the City of cancellation or termination.
[Amended 5-12-2016 by Ord. No. 5-2016]
The provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:22-11.1 through N.J.S.A. 4:22-60 governing the prevention of cruelty to animals are incorporated herein by reference.
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- To restrain an animal by tying to any stationary object or structure, including, but not limited to, a house, tree, fence, post, garage or shed, by any means, including, but not limited to, a chain, rope, cord, leash or pulley/running line, but shall not include the use of a leash when walking an animal.
Chaining or tethering of dogs.
Dogs must be able to move freely when chained or tethered and shall be so confined for a period no greater than nine hours within a twenty-four-hour period. The size of the tether or chain must be a minimum of 15 linear feet and shall remain tangle-free. Dogs must be equipped with properly fitted harnesses or buckle-type collars. The tether or chain shall be constructed of lightweight cable not weighing more than 1/16 of the animal's weight. A doghouse shall be accessible to dogs that are chained or tethered. Tethered animals shall have access to potable water, food, shelter and dry ground at all times.
No dog or other domesticated animal shall remain outdoors, tethered, untethered or penned, during a period of extreme weather, including, but not limited to, extreme heat (above 90° F.), extreme cold (below 32° F.), or during thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms, or hurricanes.
In no instance shall a dog or other domesticated animal remain outdoors, tethered, untethered or penned, under the age of six months old or while sick, injured or in distress.
Enforcement and entry onto premises.
Any humane law enforcement officer or agent of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Somers Point Certified Animal Control Officer, or other state or local law enforcement officer may immediately enter onto the private property where a dog is located and take physical custody of the dog or other domesticated animal if the officer or agent has probable cause to believe that the dog or other domesticated animal is at risk of imminent harm due to a violation of this section and shall place the dog or other domesticated animal in an animal rescue organization facility, shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound to ensure the humane care and treatment of the dog or other domesticated animal.
Upon taking physical custody of a dog or other domesticated animal pursuant to this subsection, the person taking physical custody of the dog or other domesticated animal shall:
Promptly post, in a conspicuous place at the location where the dog was taken, a notice which shall contain:
A description of the dog or other domesticated animal;
A statement that the dog or other domesticated animal may be euthanized upon a veterinarian's written determination of medical necessity;
The reason for taking custody of the dog or other domesticated animal, including a reference to this section of the Municipal Code;
The contact information, including at least the name of any applicable office or entity, the name of a person at such office or entity, and a telephone number, for the dog's or other domesticated animal's owner or the person with custody or control of the dog to obtain information concerning the dog or other domesticated animal, the alleged violation, and the location where the dog or other domesticated animal has been impounded; and
Send by registered, certified, or ordinary mail a copy of the same notice to the address of the location where the dog or other domesticated animal was taken into physical custody.
Violations and penalties.
In addition to any such penalty, the owner or custodian of any dog or other domesticated animal which shall have been impounded under this section shall be responsible for the payment of all costs, charges, and expenses incurred in and during such impoundment.
No person shall own, keep or harbor a wolf or wolf hybrid or wildlife hybrid within the City.
No person shall own, keep or harbor any exotic animal which is covered by the Endangered Species Act within the City.
No person shall own, keep or harbor a potbelly pig, poultry, or other livestock within the City.
No person shall own, keep or harbor on his or her premises any wild or vicious animal for display, training or exhibition purposes, whether gratuitously or for a fee.
No person shall own, keep or harbor any wild animal as a pet.
No person shall own, keep or harbor a dog or other animal on unoccupied premises.
The governing body of the City shall have the authority to establish by resolution an animal control shelter to provide services for the City, and to contract for services with that shelter consistent with the requirements established by state law, or to utilize the services of any such shelter provided by Atlantic County.
The Animal Control Officer of the City, the Chief of Police or his/her designee within the Police Department shall take into custody and impound any of the following:
Any dog or other domestic animal off the premises of the owner which the Animal Control Officer has reason to believe is a stray.
Any dog or other domestic animal off the premises of the owner without a current registration tag or other means of identification.
Any female dog in season off the premises of the owner.
Any dog or other animal which is suspected to be rabid.
Any dog or other domestic animal off the premises of the owner observed by the Animal Control Officer to be ill, injured or creating a threat to public health, safety or welfare or otherwise interfering with the enjoyment of property.
If any animal so seized wears a collar or harness with a registration tag or has information inscribed on the collar or harness which identifies the owner, the Animal Control Officer shall provide written notice to the owner stating that the animal has been seized and shall be liable to be offered for adoption or destroyed if not claimed within seven days after service of the notice.
A notice under this section may be served either by hand-delivering it to the person who is the owner, or by leaving it at the owner's premises, or by forwarding it by regular and certified mail to the last known address of the owner or the address given on the collar.
The owner of the animal shall be responsible for all expenses incurred by the City in connection with the seizure and impounding of the animal.
During the aforementioned seven-day custodial period, any dog or other animal so impounded may be claimed by its owner upon payment to the animal shelter the fee established by the shelter for each day or portion thereof that the dog or other animal remains in the custody of the animal shelter.
Any dog or other animal which has been seized pursuant to this chapter which has not been reclaimed during the custodial period set forth herein may be claimed by any person willing to assume the responsibility of ownership. Otherwise, said dog or other animal may be disposed of by the animal shelter or other designated official by being put to death in as humane a manner as possible.
Appointment. The governing body of the City is the appropriate authority to appoint a certified Animal Control Officer who shall be responsible for animal control within the City and who shall enforce the provisions of this chapter. In the absence of such an appointment, the chief law enforcement officer of the City, or his designee, shall act in that capacity.
Certification. The governing body of the City shall ensure that any person appointed to the position of Animal Control Officer shall be certified in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16a together with the state rules and regulations, adopted pursuant thereto.
The provisions of this chapter, in addition to other methods of enforcement provided by law, may be enforced by the issuance of a notice of violation by members of the Police Department, the Code Enforcement Officer, the Animal Control Official, the Dog Canvasser Official, the City Clerk and members of the Clerk's staff.
The Animal Control Officer, any Assistant Animal Control Officer or any other officer designated by the City to enforce this chapter, when engaged in the performance of his or her duty, is hereby authorized to enter upon any premises to seize or impound any dog or other animal which he may lawfully seize or impound when such officer is in the immediate pursuit of said animal except upon the premises of the owner of the animal if said owner is present and forbids same. In that event, the Animal Control Officer or the designated enforcement officer must apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain a search warrant and authority to seize the animal.
No person shall give false information, hinder, or interfere with anyone authorized or empowered to perform any duty under this chapter.
The Somers Point Police Department shall, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.15, cause a canvass to be made of all dogs owned, kept or harbored within the City and shall report on or before September 1 of each calendar year to the City Clerk, to the Atlantic County Board of Health, and to such state agencies required by state law the result of the canvass setting forth in separate columns the name and address of persons owning, keeping or harboring unlicensed dogs, the number of unlicensed dogs owned, kept or harbored by each person together with a complete description of each unlicensed dog.
All other provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-1 through 4:19-43 are hereby adopted and incorporated herein by the City of Somers Point.