Full Ordinance Name:  Municipal Code, City of South Milwaukee, Chapter 23. Public Peace & Safety § 23.20 REGULATING VICIOUS DOGS.

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Primary Citation:  SOUTH MILWAUKEE, WI., MUNICIPAL CODE § 23.20 Date Adopted:  1989 Jurisdiction Level:  Wisconsin Last Checked:  June, 2018
Summary: In 2017, the City of South Milwaukee amended its section on "vicious dogs" to remove the prohibition on the keeping of dogs described as "pit bull dogs." This ban was repealed on June 27, 2017.

ORDINANCE NO. 2153

AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND SECTION 23.20 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE, PERTAINING TO VICIOUS DOGS, TO LIFT THE PROHIBITION ON THE KEEPING OF THE DOG BREED “PIT BULLS” AND TO TRANSFER OVERSIGHT OF DANGEROUS AND VICIOUS DOGS TO THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT

WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee has determined that it is in the best interest of the City’s health, safety and welfare and morals to amend Section 23.20 of the Municipal Code.

WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee has determined that it is in the best interest of the City’s health, safety and welfare and morals to remove the prohibition on the keeping of the dog breed known as “pit bulls” within the City of South Milwaukee.

WHEREAS, the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee has determined that it is in the best interest of the City’s health, safety and welfare and morals to transfer the oversight of dangerous and vicious dogs from the Office of the Treasurer to the Health Department.

WHEREAS, Upon the recommendation of the Health Department Director, the Common Council having found and determined that renumbering and amending of such an ordinance is necessary to protect the public health, safety and welfare.

NOW THEREFORE, at a special meeting of the Common Council of the City of South Milwaukee, held on the 27th day of June, 2017, a quorum of the members of the Common Council being present and a majority voting in favor thereof, the Common Council does hereby ordain as follows:

§ 23.20 Regulating dangerous and vicious dogs.

[Amended 3-17-1989 by Ord. No. 1427; 4-17-2007 by Ord. No. 1940; 7-28-2015 by Ord. No. 2109; 3-15-2016 by Ord. No. 2124]

A. Definitions. ANIMALS RUNNING AT LARGEAn animal shall be deemed to be running at large when it is permitted to run off of the premises of the owner or keeper when it is not accompanied by a person having said animal under control on a leash.

DANGEROUS DOG

(1)   A dog which, unprovoked, causes an injury to a person which is not classified as a serious injury; or  

(2)   A dog which, while off its owner's or keeper's premises, attacks and injures a domestic animal.   OWNERAny person, firm, corporation, organization or department possessing, harboring or having the care or custody, whether temporarily or permanently, of a dog.[1]SERIOUS INJURYAny physical injury to a person that results in a major fracture, muscle tears, disfiguring lacerations or wounds, or requires multiple sutures or corrective or cosmetic surgery.UNPROVOKEDThat the circumstances demonstrate that the dog was not, at the time of the incident, being teased, attacked, tormented, abused or assaulted by a person.UNTAGGED ANIMALSAn animal is considered to be untagged if a valid license tag is not attached to a collar which is kept on the animal.

VICIOUS DOG

(1)   A dog which h has caused a serious injury to a person; or  

(2)   A dog previously determined to be a dangerous dog: which, unprovoked, bites a person, or while off its owner's or keeper's premises attacks and inures a domestic animal; or  

(3)   A dog which, at any time or times has been implicated in two or more bite incidents involving humans; or [Amended 4-18-2017 by Ord. No. 2145]  

(4)   A dog which has been found to be a vicious dog in any other community.  

[1] Editor’s Note: The former definition of “pit bull,” which immediately followed this definition, was repealed 6-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2153.

B. Prohibitions.

(1) No person shall harbor, keep or maintain within the City limits of the City of South Milwaukee any dog which has been determined to be a vicious dog by the City of South Milwaukee Health Department or by an authorized person, department or agency in any other community or by any Court.

(2) Any dog alleged to be vicious by virtue of an attack upon a human being or a domestic animal shall be impounded as directed by the City of South Milwaukee Health Department until a determination has been made by the Circuit Court of Milwaukee County whether the dog should be killed. In the event the Health Department is satisfied that the owner has made adequate arrangements to insure the safety of the community and that the dog will be accessible in the event the Court orders it killed, the Health Department may accept an alternative to impoundment which will at a minimum will include notice of where the animal is being kept and with whom the animal is being kept and what security measures have been taken to insure the animal is not a danger to people at its current location. In the event the animal is removed from South Milwaukee, the owner shall provide the Health Department with the address where the animal is and the name of the person in charge of the animal. The Health Department shall inform the appropriate officials in the community where the animal has been moved.

(3) No dog which has been determined by the Health Department to be a vicious dog and which has been removed from the City may be returned to any place within the City at any time for any period of time.

(4) Whenever the Health Department and the City Attorney deem it appropriate to seek a court order to kill a dog under Wis. Stats., § 174.02, they shall first obtain authorization to file such an action from the Common Council.

C. [2] Any person may petition the City Health Department to declare a dog dangerous. Upon receipt of the sworn statement of any person setting forth the nature and date of the act, the name and address of the owner and a description of the dog, the agent of the Health Department designated by the Health Department to handle Dangerous Dog determinations or the City Code Enforcement Officer shall investigate the matter and if he/she determines that the dog in question is a dangerous dog as defined in these ordinances, he/she shall issue a written order to the owner requiring the owner to comply with the dangerous dog provisions of this ordinance or in the alternative remove the dog from the City. Any owner who objects to the determination of the Health Department agent or Code Enforcement Officer may appeal the determination to the Public Health Administrator or the board of Health. Any such appeal shall not stay the order. A citation alleging a failure to comply with the order issued pursuant to this section may be issued by any employee designated by the Health Department, by any police officer or by the City Code Enforcement Officer. [Amended 1-20-2015 by Ord. No. 2097]

[2] Editor’s Note: Former Subsections C and D, regarding harboring of pit bulls, as amended, were repealed 6-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2153. This ordinance also redesignated former Subsections E through W as Subsections C through U, respectively.

D. Any person may petition the City Health Department to declare a dog to be a vicious dog. Upon receipt of the sworn statement of any person setting for the nature and date of the acts, the name and address of the owner and a description of the dog, the agent of the Health Department designated by the Health Department to handle vicious dog determinations of the City Code Enforcement Officer shall investigate the matter and if he/she determines that the dog in question is a vicious dog as defined in these ordinances, he/she shall issue a written order to the owner requiring the owner to surrender the dog for impoundment or immediately and permanently remove the dog from the City. Any owner who objects to the determination of the Health Department agent or Code Enforcement Officer may appeal the determination to the Public Health Administrator or the board of health. Any such appeal shall not stay the order. Any person violating an order issued under this section shall be subject to a forfeiture of up to $1,000 for each day of non-compliance with the order. A citation alleging a failure to comply with the order issued pursuant to this section may be issued by any employee designated by the Health Department, by any police officer or by the City Code Enforcement Officer.

E. No dog shall be declared to be a vicious dog if the injury or damage was sustained by a person who, at the time, was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or which the dog was protecting its owner from attack by a human being. No dog shall be declared to be a dangerous dog if the proof of dangerousness concerns an incident where a person was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or which the dog was protecting its owner from attack by a human being.

F. All owners of dangerous dogs shall, annually on or before December 31 of each year, register their dog at the City Health Department and shall provide a current color photograph of the dog, provide proof of dog bite liability insurance in an amount of not less than $100,000, shall provide proof that the dog has an implanted ID chip and shall provide the ID chip number and shall pay a registration fee in an amount established by resolution of the Common Council. [Amended 4-18-2017 by Ord. No. 2145; 6-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2153]

G. (Reserved) [3]

[3] Editor's Note: Former Subsection I was repealed 3-15-2016 by Ord. No. 2124.

H. While on the owner's property, a dangerous dog must be securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure, suitable to prevent the entry of young children, and designed to prevent the animal from escaping. Such pen or structure must have a minimum dimension of five feet by 10 feet and must have secure sides and a secure top. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be imbedded into the ground no less than two feet. The enclosure must also provide protection from the elements for the dog.

I. The owner or keeper of a dangerous dog shall display a sign on his or her premises facing out from all sides of the premises warning that there is a dangerous dog on the property. This sign must be visible and capable of being read from a public highway or thoroughfare or within 20 feet of its placement. In addition, the owner shall conspicuously display a sign with a symbol warning children of the presence of a dangerous dog.

J. A dangerous dog may be off the owner's premises only if it is muzzled and restrained by an approved lead or chain not exceeding three feet in length and is under the control, by leash, of an adult, able-bodied person. The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration, but must prevent it from biting any person or animal.

K. It shall be the duty of such persons as from time to time may be designated by resolution of the Common Council to apprehend any unlicensed dogs. The South Milwaukee Police Department shall, whenever possible, see that such dogs are transferred to the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Facility (MADAC) at the earliest possible date where the dogs may be taken care of and reclaimed by the owner under the rules and regulations of said Animal Control Facility. When the dog is impounded by the City before being transferred to MADAC, the owner reclaiming the dog shall be required to pay an amount as established by resolution of the Common Council to the City of South Milwaukee. [Amended 4-5-2000 by Ord. No. 1764]

L. It shall be the duty of the South Milwaukee Police Department and such other persons as from time to time may be designated by resolution of the Common Council to apprehend any dangerous dogs running at large. Any dangerous dog found running at large shall be impounded and returned to its owner only upon proof of compliance with provisions of Subsections F, H, I, and J hereof. [Amended 6-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2153]

M. The owner of any dog previously determined to be dangerous found off the owner or custodian's premises, without a muzzle and/or unleashed and/or not in the control of an ablebodied adult, as required in this ordinance, shall, upon conviction, be subject to a forfeiture of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000.

N. In any event, when a dog is impounded, the impounding authority shall give notice to the owners of the impoundment and advise the owners whether and under what circumstances the dog may be redeemed. The owner of any animal impounded, confined or destroyed pursuant to the terms of this ordinance shall be responsible for all costs of such confinement, impoundment or destruction.

O. Whenever any dog is determined to be a vicious dog, the owner or person having custody of the dog shall, at the discretion of the Health Department, either surrender the dog for impoundment or remove the dog from the City of South Milwaukee. If the owner fails to surrender the dog or to remove the dog as directed by the Health Department, in addition to any other action which may be taken, the South Milwaukee Police Department shall obtain a search warrant for the dog and upon finding the dog shall impound the dog as directed by the Health Department. [Amended 6-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2153]

P. If the owner of a dog, and not a dog previously determined to be a dangerous dog, negligently or otherwise permits the dog to run at large or be untagged, the owner shall forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $100 for the first offense and not less than $50 nor more than $200 for subsequent offenses. [Amended 6-27-2017 by Ord. No. 2153]

Q. All dogs shall be licensed as provided in §§ 23.21 to 23.24 of the City of South Milwaukee Municipal Code.

R. Penalties. Any person violating or committing violation of provisions of this ordinance for which no other specific penalty has been provided shall, upon conviction, be assessed a forfeiture of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for each day the violation continues.

S. Orders issued by the Health Department under this section may be served personally or by first class mail to the owner of keeper of the dog at the premises where the dog is or was kept.

T. The provisions of this ordinance regarding dangerous and vicious dogs shall not apply to animals owned by law enforcement agencies and used for law enforcement purposes.

U. Any dog kept or maintained at any premise in the City in violation of this ordinance is declared to be a public nuisance and the City may prosecute an action against the premises or owner to abate the nuisance in addition to any other remedy available.

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