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«THE BIG BOOK OF WOOF TABLE OF CONTENTS ABOUT THIS HANDBOOK INTRODUCTION CHAPTERS I. DOG IMMUNIZATION AND LICENSING IMMUNIZATION LICENSING 1. ...»

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This ordinance gives a selectboard the option of whether they want to conduct vicious dog hearings for bites that occur on the premises of the dog’s owner. Presently under state law, a selectboard is only obligated, and may only hold a vicious dog hearing when the bite occurs off the owner’s premises. Choosing this option enables a selectboard to hold such a hearing in both instances. Before making your decision, please be aware that according to the Dog Bite Law Center approximately 70% of all dog bites occur on the owner’s property which means electing this option may result in a marked increase in vicious dog hearings.

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SECTION 9. NOTICE OF IMPOUNDMENT AND RELEASE FROM IMPOUNDMENT.

A. The officer who impounds a dog shall, within twenty-four (24) hours, give notice to the owner thereof, either personally, by telephone call, or by written notice at the owner’s dwelling. Such notice shall inform the owner of the nature of the violations, the location of the dog and the steps that are necessary to have it returned to the owner.

B. If the owner of the dog is unknown, the officer who impounds a dog shall, within twentyfour (24) hours of impoundment post a public notice. Notification shall be posted in the town clerk’s office and other usual places for public notice for a ten (10) day period.34 The public notice shall include a description of the dog, including any significant marks of identification, when and where it was impounded or found by the person placing the dog in the town’s custody, and declare that unless the owner claims the dog and pays all expenses incurred by the town for treatment, boarding and care of the dog, any applicable penalties and takes all necessary remedial action within ten (10) days following posting, the town may place the dog in an adoptive home, transfer it to a humane society or rescue organization. If the dog cannot be placed in an adoptive home or transferred to a humane society or rescue organization, it may be destroyed in a humane way.

C. Impounded dogs shall be released to the owner only after payment of all penalties and impoundment fees (including but not limited to boarding, food, and veterinary expenses), the final disposition of a potentially vicious dog or vicious dog hearing if applicable, and after all necessary remedial action is taken by the owner. Remedial action shall include, but is not limited to, such actions as providing a collar and current license, and verification of certification of current vaccination against rabies.

D. If the owner of a dog impounded under the provisions of this ordinance refuses to take the remedial action necessary to secure the dog’s release within ten (10) days following notice of impoundment or gives notice either personally, by telephone call, or in writing to the town of forfeiture of ownership before that time, the dog may be placed in an adoptive home, transferred to a humane society or rescue organization, or if the town is unable to transfer the dog it may be humanely destroyed. The owner of a dog transferred or humanely destroyed shall remain liable for all expenses incurred by the Town for treatment, boarding and care of Although state law only requires public notice for a one-week period for an impounded stray dog, the potential reasons for impoundment under this ordinance are broader than those under 20 V.S.A. § 3806. Furthermore, even though the VT Supreme Court has held that “(t)he qualified right to possession of dogs and other animals, and the strong public interest in assuring their permanent placement in a suitable environment, amply supports the town’s decision to provide for the sale or transfer of impounded dogs if unclaimed after seven days…” Lamare v. North Country Animal League, 170 Vt. 115 at 123 (1999) the Court in that case mostly looked to other jurisdictions around the country for guidance as to appropriate notice periods as Vermont law was up until that time largely silent. Considering that the VT Legislature, in amending 20 V.S.A. § 3621, imposed a ten-day period to attempt to transfer to animal shelters or rescue organization dogs impounded following a selectboard’s grant of a warrant for all unlicensed dogs, we would recommend following this longer ten day timeframe.

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E. The procedures provided in this section shall only apply if the dog is not a rabies suspect. If an official designated by the selectboard to enforce the provisions of this ordinance determines that the dog is a rabies suspect, the selectboard shall immediately notify the Town Health Officer who shall proceed in accordance with the rules of the Vermont Department of Health.

SECTION 10. INVESTIGATION OF VICIOUS DOGS.

A. When a dog has bitten a person while the dog is off [or on]35 the premises of its owner or keeper, and the person bitten requires medical attention for the attack, such person may file a written complaint with the selectboard of the municipality. The complaint shall contain the time, date and place where the attack occurred, the name and address of the victim or victims, and any other facts that may assist the selectboard in conducting its investigation.

B. The selectboard, within seven (7) days from receipt of the complaint, shall investigate the charges and hold a hearing on the matter. If the owner of the dog which is the subject of the complaint can be ascertained with due diligence, said owner shall be provided with a written notice of the time, date and place of hearing and a copy of the complaint.





C. If the dog is found to have bitten the victim without provocation, the selectboard shall make such order for the protection of persons as the facts and circumstances of the case may require, including, without limitation that the dog is disposed of in a humane way, muzzled, chained, or confined. The order shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to the owner. A person who, after receiving notice, fails to comply with the terms of the order shall be subject to the penalties provided in 20 V.S.A. § 3550.

This ordinance gives municipalities the option of conducting “vicious” dog hearings for bites that occur ON the premises of the owner and in other instances in which a dog is suspected of being a “potentially vicious dog.” Those municipalities availing themselves of this option should be aware that doing so is not without a risk of increased liability exposure. The reason the Town of Poultney escaped liability in Rubin v. Town of Poultney, 168 Vt. 624 (1998) was because the Town had not assumed a duty of care beyond that provided by statute. “In this case, defendants’ ability to exercise control over dogs exists in narrowly circumscribed conditions and is statutory, not contractual, in nature.... The town’s right to control dogs that bite does not give rise to a generalized duty to control vicious dogs.” Rubin v. Town of Poultney, 168 Vt. 624 (1998). In utilizing this process when not mandated by statute to do so municipalities are representing that they will undertake a duty of care that they are not otherwise obligated to conduct. Breach of this duty of care could result in a claim of negligence. Accordingly, municipalities instituting these options should be sure to hold a hearing when a complaint is received and adhere to the processes laid out for “vicious” dog hearings including rendering a protective order if found in violation. Furthermore, a municipality undertaking these additional responsibilities should anticipate an associated increase in administrative and enforcement costs related to compliance. Both these factors must be weighed against the projected benefits of addressing these issues before they become a problem.

VLCT Big Book of Woof, May 2014 Page 60 D. The procedures provided in this section shall only apply if the dog is not a rabies suspect. If a member of the selectboard or a municipal official designated by the selectboard determines that the dog is a rabies suspect, the provisions of Subchapter 5 of Title 20 Chapter 193 and the rules of the Vermont Department of Health shall apply. If the dog is deemed healthy, the terms and conditions set forth in the selectboard’s order shall be enforced.

SECTION 11. OTHER LAWS. This ordinance is in addition to all other ordinances of the Town of _________________ and all applicable laws of the State of Vermont. All ordinances or parts of ordinances, resolutions, regulations, or other documents inconsistent with the provisions of this ordinance are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.

SECTION 12. SEVERABILITY. If any section of this ordinance is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such finding shall not invalidate any other part of this ordinance.

SECTION 13. EFFECTIVE DATE. This ordinance shall become effective 60 days after its adoption by the _________________ selectboard. If a petition is filed under 24 V.S.A. § 1973, that statute shall govern the taking effect of this ordinance.

Adopted this _________ day of ___________, 201_.

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Adoption History

1. Agenda item at regular selectboard meeting held on ______________.

2. Read and approved at regular/special selectboard meeting on ______________ and entered in the minutes of that meeting which were approved on ______________.

3. Posted in public places on ______________.

4. Notice of adoption published in the _______________ newspaper on ______________ with a notice of the right to petition.

5. Other actions [petitions, etc.]

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The municipal clerk shall issue licenses and receive money for them. 20 V.S.A. § 3588. A person must annually license his or her dog on or before April 1.

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If you own or keep a neutered or spayed dog or wolf-hybrid that is six months or older on or

before April 1, the license fee, according to 20 V.S.A. § 3581, is:

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If you own or keep an unneutered or unspayed dog or wolf-hybrid that is six months or

older on or before April 1, the license fee, according to 20 V.S.A. § 3581, is:

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If you become an owner/keeper of a neutered or spayed dog or wolf-hybrid that is six months of age or older after April 1, you have 30 days to license the animal. The license fee,

according to 20 V.S.A. § 3582, is:

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If you become an owner/keeper of an unneutered or unspayed dog or wolf-hybrid that is six months of age or older after April 1, you have 30 days to license the animal. The license fee,

according to 20 V.S.A. § 3582, is:

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If the owner waits more than 30 days after the neutered or spayed dog or wolf-hybrid

becomes six months old, the license fee, according to 20 V.S.A. § 3582, is:

–  –  –

If the owner waits more than 30 days after the unneutered or unspayed dog or wolf-hybrid

becomes six months old, the license fee, according to 20 V.S.A. § 3582, is:

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• To register a dog or wolf-hybrid as a neutered male or spayed female, a certificate, signed by a licensed veterinarian stating the animal has been sterilized, must be shown to the clerk. 20 V.S.A. § 3581(b).

• To license a dog or wolf-hybrid, the owner/keeper shall give the municipal clerk a certificate (or certified copy) signed by a licensed veterinarian stating the dog or wolf-hybrid has a current approved vaccination against rabies. The owner shall certify that the dog or wolfhybrid being licensed is the animal that was vaccinated. The municipal clerk shall keep the certificate (or copy) on file. 20 V.S.A. § 3581(d).

A current vaccination against rabies means that:

• All dog and wolf-hybrid vaccinations recognized by state and local authorities shall be administered by or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

VLCT Big Book of Woof, May 2014 Page 63

• All dogs and wolf-hybrids over three months of age shall be vaccinated against rabies. The initial vaccination shall be valid for 12 months. Within 9 to 12 months of the initial vaccination, the animal must receive a booster vaccination.



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