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Poulsbo considers dangerous dog ban

POULSBO — It’s been almost a quarter century since the city of Poulsbo dealt with the issue of dangerous dogs within city limits.

Now, after a pit bull attacked and injured a Poulsbo woman April 10, city officials and law enforcement are revisiting the issue to take further action.

“I would ask that the council look into a dangerous dog ban in light of the attack,” Councilman Ed Stern said at the April 11 council meeting.

Yakima, Selah, Algona and Enumclaw have all banned pit bulls within their city limits, and other cities including Bainbridge Island and Bellevue prohibit wolves and wolf hybrids. Kirkland, Auburn, Eatonville and Pasco specifically list pit bulls as “dangerous dogs” in their ordinances.

Poulsbo Police Sgt. Bill Playter said April 12 he had begun researching the issue to aid the council in tightening the city’s current dangerous dog ordinance.

In June 1983, the council passed ordinance 83-84, which created Poulsbo Municipal Code 6.04.060, formalizing the city’s stance on dangerous dogs.

The code states, “It is unlawful for any owner to keep, harbor or maintain on or off his premises in a manner liable to endanger the safety of persons or property lawfully upon the premises, or upon any street, avenue, alley, public or private place within the city, or to allow to run at large within the limits of the city of Poulsbo, any vicious, menacing or dangerous dog or dog with vicious propensities. Any such animal is a nuisance and shall be seized and impounded.”

However, instead of charging the owner of the pit bull in the April 10 attack, Playter said he is asking the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s office to charge the owner under state law.

“Under our ordinance it is just a misdemeanor, but under the RCW it is a felony,” Playter said.

The state law allows individuals who knowingly own dangerous dogs to be charged with a felony if their animals attack people, and also mandates the dog be euthanised.

Under RCW 16.08.100, “If a dangerous dog of an owner with a prior conviction under this chapter attacks or bites a person or another domestic animal, the dog’s owner is guilty of a class C felony, punishable in accordance with RCW 9A.20.021.”

The law states that the only defense in this situation is for the owner to show they were in compliance with the state’s dangerous dog ownership regulations and that the victim provoked the dog without justification.

As for the possession of the dog until the case is decided by a judge, the RCW states, “The dangerous dog shall be immediately confiscated by an animal control authority, placed in quarantine for the proper length of time, and thereafter destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner.”

The law also states the dog may not be considered potentially dangerous solely based upon its particular breed or breeds.

But that runs contrary to Yakima’s ordinance, 6.18.020 of the Yakima Municipal Code, which simply states, “It is unlawful to keep, or harbor, own or in any way possess a pit bull dog within the city of Yakima.”

The minimum fine for a violation of this section $250 for the first offense and $500 for a second or subsequent offense, and fine cannot be suspended or deferred.

Yakima’s ordinance does not apply to pit bull dogs which do not reside in the city, are brought into the city for the purposes of participating in a dog show or canine sporting event for which the owner is able to show proof of entry, and do not remain in the city of Yakima for a period exceeding 96 consecutive hours.

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