While no one has been exactly howling for drastic changes, City Council members took the first steps to tweak Spokane Valley’s code provisions with regard to the handling of dangerous dogs.
This will be the first time the city has made any changes to its dangerous dog ordinance in five years, and the idea is to get Spokane Valley’s rules more in step with Spokane County, which handles animal control through SCRAPS.
Nancy Hill, director of Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services, has been working with city legal staff to make sure code provisions are all in lockstep. But Cary Driskell, city attorney, said there is an exception that the council needs to remedy: the appeal process when a dog is declared “dangerous” by SCRAPS.
Since 2007, dangerous dog cases are heard and determined by the Spokane County hearing examiner. Prior to that, hearing examiner recommendations were forwarded to the Board of Commissioners, who made the final determination.
Dangerous dog determinations are made by SCRAPS when canines have bitten someone, mauled another animal or otherwise indicated they are a threat to the public. Owners can appeal that designation, which happens if they feel the restrictions placed on them are too onerous. Typically, however, pet owners will be required to pen the dangerous dog and also have liability insurance.
While the city has had its own appeal process if a pet owner wants to challenge a dangerous dog ruling, Spokane County recently amended its own regulations. For consistency’s sake, the city will make similar changes relating to the changing of insurance requirements regarding the amount of the deductible, Driskell said.
Owners of dangerous dogs must either have proof of a surety bond or liability home owner’s insurance in the amount $250,000, with a maximum $500 deductible, to insure the owner for any personal injuries that could be inflicted by the animal on or off premises.
Driskell also said he took the opportunity to clean up other language in the code, such as whether an intentional violation of the ordinance was a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor.
“It’s appropriate to have more consistency with Spokane County,” he said.
“Basically, we’re mirroring Spokane County’s ordinance,” said Council Member Dean Grafos.
Council Member Arne Woodard asked if the ordinance puts more of a burden on certain breeds that are perceived as dangerous, such as pitt bull terriers. Driskell said SCRAPS does not consider breeds and handles dangerous dog incidents on a case-by-case basis.
The first reading of the proposed ordinance is expected to go before the council on May 14 with final approval to follow on May 28.
Finally, due to it being the fifth Tuesday of the month and a lack of agenda items, the council cancelled its April 30 meeting. Council members will next convene on Tuesday, May 7, for a study session at 6 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.