Kokomo’s new dog ordinance took effect Tuesday, giving animal control officers new authority to crack down on dangerous animals.
Anyone found harboring a dangerous animal — defined as an animal that has “aggressively bitten, attacked or endangered” a human, or which has been bred for dog fighting — could be fined up to $250 for the first offense under the new ordinance.
The Kokomo Common Council passed the measure 8-0 Monday. No one from the public spoke either for or against the ordinance.
The new law also places restrictions on the owners of “potentially dangerous dogs.”
A dog could be deemed potentially dangerous if it engages in any unprovoked behavior that causes a person to perform a defensive action, assuming the animal is off its owner’s property.
Any dog that bites a human, unprovoked, could be deemed potentially dangerous, even if the bite doesn’t cause serious injury. A dog that shows aggression toward a person could be considered potentially dangerous, even if it doesn’t bite.
A dog that attacks and injures another domestic animal, or runs loose, or chases or menaces a person, could also be considered potentially dangerous.
Owners could be fined between $250 and $500 for a first offense, depending on the severity and nature of the offense.
The ordinance also addresses illegal tethering of dogs — either through attaching the dog to a heavy chain, or leaving the dog tethered where it can’t reach food, water, shelter or shade.
Council attorney Corbin King made a few technical changes to the ordinance before Monday’s vote.
The only real change was the addition of specific minimum sizes for animal pens. Anyone harboring a dangerous animal will either have to keep the pet indoors or, if the pet is outdoors, the pet will have to be kept in a chain link fence enclosure.
The minimum size of the enclosure would depend on the size of the dangerous animal, from a 24-square-foot enclosure for dogs weighing less than 20 pounds to a 48-square-foot enclosure for extra large animals, over 75 pounds.
• Scott Smith is a Kokomo Tribune staff writer. He may be reached at 765-454-8569 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org