Editor's Note: This ordinance was adopted pursuant to the authority of § 3.1-796.93:1 of the Code of Virginia.
The title of this article is "An Ordinance Regulating Dangerous Dogs and Vicious Dogs in Buchanan County, Virginia."
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- DANGEROUS DOG
- A canine or canine crossbreed that has bitten, attacked, or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal, or killed a companion animal; however, when a dog attacks or bites another dog, the attacking or biting dog shall not be deemed dangerous 1) if no serious physical injury as determined by a licensed veterinarian has occurred to the other dog as a result of the attack or bite; or 2) both dogs are owned by the same person. No dog shall be found to be a dangerous dog as a result of biting, attacking or inflicting injury of another dog while engaged with an owner or custodian as part of lawful hunting or participating in an organized, lawful dog handling event.
- VICIOUS DOG
- A canine or canine crossbreed that has 1) killed a person; 2) inflicted serious injury to a person, including multiple bites, serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious impairment of a bodily function; or 3) continued to exhibit the behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court that it is a dangerous dog, provided that its owner has been given notice of that finding.
Any Animal Control Officer who has reason to believe that a canine or canine crossbreed within his jurisdiction is a dangerous dog or vicious dog shall apply to a magistrate of the jurisdiction for the issuance of a summons requiring the owner or custodian, if known, to appear before a general district court at a specified time. The summons shall advise the owner of the nature of the proceeding and the matters at issue. The Animal Control Officer shall confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. If the Animal Control Officer determines that the owner or custodian can confine the animal in a manner that protects public safety, he may permit the owner or custodian to confine the animal until such time as evidence shall be heard and a verdict rendered. The court, through its contempt powers, may compel the owner, custodian, or harborer of the animal to produce the animal. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a dangerous dog, the court shall order the animal's owner to comply with the provisions of this article. If, after hearing the evidence, the court finds that the animal is a vicious dog, the court shall order the animal euthanized in accordance with the provisions of § 3.1-796.119 Code of Virginia.
No canine or canine crossbreed shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog solely because it is a particular breed, nor shall this article be construed to prohibit the ownership of a particular breed of canine or canine crossbreed. No animal shall be found to be a dangerous dog or vicious dog if the threat, injury or damage was sustained by a person who was 1) committing, at the time, a crime upon the premises occupied by the animal's owner or custodian, 2) committing, at the time, a willful trespass or other tort upon the premises occupied by the animal's owner or custodian, or 3) provoking, tormenting, or physically abusing the animal, or can be shown to have repeatedly provoked, tormented, abused, or assaulted the animal at other times. No police dog that was engaged in the performance of its duties as such at the time of the acts complained of shall be found to be a dangerous dog or a vicious dog. No animal which, at the time of the acts complained of, was responding to pain or injury, or was protecting itself, its kennel, its offspring, or its owner or owner's property, shall be found to be a dangerous dog or a vicious dog.
The owner of any animal found to be a dangerous dog shall, within 10 days of such finding, obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate from the local Animal Control Officer for a fee of $50, in addition to other fees that may be authorized by law. The local Animal Control Officer shall also provide the owner with a uniformly designed tag that identifies the animal as a dangerous dog. The owner shall affix the tag to the animal's collar and ensure that the animal wears the collar and tag at all times. All certificates obtained pursuant to this section shall be renewed annually for the same fee and in the same manner as the initial certificate was obtained.
All certificates or renewals thereof required to be obtained under this article shall only be issued to persons 18 years of age or older who present satisfactory evidence:
Of the animal's current rabies vaccination, if applicable; and
That the animal is and will be confined in a proper enclosure or is and will be confined inside the owner's residence or is and will be muzzled and confined in the owner's fenced-in yard until the proper enclosure is constructed.
In addition, owners who apply for certificates or renewals thereof under this article, shall not be issued a certificate or renewal thereof unless they present satisfactory evidence that:
Their residence is and will continue to be posted with clearly visible signs warning both minors and adults of the presence of a dangerous dog on the property;
The animal has been permanently identified by means of a tattoo on the inside thigh or by electronic implantation;
The the animal has been neutered or spayed; and
The owner has liability insurance coverage to the value of at least $100,000 that covers animal bites.
While on the property of its owner, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked structure of sufficient height and design to prevent its escape or direct contact with or entry by minors, adults, or other animals. The structure shall be designed to provide the animal with shelter from the elements of nature. When off its owners property, an animal found to be a dangerous dog shall be kept on a leash and muzzled in such a manner as not to cause injury to the animal or interfere with the animal's vision or respiration, but so as to prevent it from biting a person or another animal.
If the owner of an animal found to be a dangerous dog is a minor, the custodial parent or legal guardian shall be responsible for complying with all requirements of this article.
After an animal has been found to be a dangerous dog, the animal's owner shall immediately, upon learning of same, notify the local animal control authority if the animal:
The owner of any animal that has been found to be a dangerous dog who willfully fails to comply with the requirements of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
All fees collected pursuant to this article, less the costs incurred by the animal control authority in producing and distributing the certificates and tags required by this article, shall be paid into a special dedicated fund in the treasury of Buchanan County for the purpose of paying the expenses of any training course required under § 3.1-796.104:1 Code of Virginia.