333 S. Meridian, Puyallup, WA 98371 - 253-841-4321

City of Puyallup

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AI- 3483   6.    
City Council Agenda
Meeting Date: 01/22/2013  
Subject:    Second reading of an ordinance amending various sections of Puyallup Municipal Code pertaining to animal control
Presenter: Steve Kirkelie
Department: City Attorney's Office  

Recommended Action
Conduct second reading of an ordinance amending various sections of Puyallup Municipal Code Chapters 6.08, 8.04, 8.12, and 8.18 pertaining to animal control.
City and Metro Animal Control Services ("Metro") staff, which is the animal control agency jointly operated with the City of Sumner, performed a comprehensive review of the City's animal control regulations.  The primary reason was because the existing definition of "leash" within the Puyallup Municipal Code is ambiguous as to whether a person can use an "electronic leash."  The ordinance that accompanies this agenda bill addresses this issue by specifically prohibiting the use of electronic leashes.  In addition, the ordinance proposes other animal and public welfare and safety regulations such as making it a crime to leave an animal in a motor vehicle without proper ventilation, requiring an owner of a dog that has been formally designated dangerous or potentially dangerous by another government agency to notify Metro when such a dog is relocated to Puyallup, and limiting the number of adult dogs or cats that can be kept in a residence. 

Council approved the ordinance at first reading, but requested that staff review the civil monetary penalty provision pertaining to animal control regulations.  The existing base penalty is $250 plus state-imposed assessments.  The state-imposed assessments are 105% of the base penalty.  Thus, the total monetary penalty for a civil infraction is $513.  Council directed staff at first reading to provide for a tiered monetary penalty for violations except in instances where a person or animal was injured as part of the violation.  The ordinance establishes the following tiered fine structure:

-- First violation: $25 (base penalty) + $26 (state assessments) = $51
-- Second violation: $125 (base penalty) + $131 (state assessments) = $256
-- Third and subsequent violations = $250 (base penalty) + $263 (state assessments) = $513
-- Violation resulting in physical harm to person or animal = $250 (base penalty) + $263 (state assessments) = $513      

In 2012, Metro issued 16 civil infractions for animal control violations.  Some of these infractions had multiple violations charged within each infraction.  In addition, Metro issued 170 written warnings for animal control violations. 

Previous Actions (Discussions/Presentations)
May 15, 2012
Jason Wilson, Administrative Services Manager with the Sumner Police Department and Manager of Metro Animal Control Services, gave a presentation to the City Council pertaining to electronic leashes. At the meeting, Mr. Wilson outlined five concerns Metro has regarding electronic leashes:

1) Lack of Control -- With electronic leashes, dogs are not under the complete physical control of the owners, which raises the risk of unsafe encounters between dogs and persons.
2) Training -- Proper and effective use of electronic leashes requires that both dog and owner receive proper training in use of an electronic leash. There is no requirement for such training for a person to purchase and obtain an electronic leash.
3) Reliability -- There is no guarantee the electronic leash will work; if, for example, the dog is a certain distance away from the owner, or in certain situations where a stimulus may cause the dog to ignore the electronic shock.
4) Enforcement -- Electronic leashes would undoubtedly require animal control officers to initiate more contact with dog owners because an officer will not know whether a dog is being controlled by an electronic leash without the officer directly contacting the owner. In addition, there will be an increase in calls for service because the public will also not know if a dog is on an electronic leash and will likely call 911 to report an unleashed dog.
5) Public perception -- The general public will not know if a dog is on an electronic leash, which will increase fear and possible unpleasant encounters between the dog owner and other members of the public.

October 2, 2012
Council approved the ordinance at first reading; however, Council directed staff to change the civil infraction monetary fine structure to provide for a lower fine for first time violations of animal control regulations.    
Summary of Proposal
The ordinance that accompanies this agenda bill makes four primary changes to animal control regulations: 1) specifically excludes electronic leashes from the definition of leash; 2) updates regulations to be consistent with current case law; 3) adds provisions pertaining to public and animal safety; and 4) lowers the base penalty for civil infractions issued for an animal control violation.
If Council was in favor of allowing the use of electronic leashes, it would be important to consider, at a minimum, the following considerations: 1) potential geographical limitations as to where such leashes could be used; 2) training and licensing requirements to ensure proper use of an electronic leash; and 3) potential age restriction on a person using the electronic leash.

Fiscal Impact

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