Marion County Passes New Dangerous Dog Law

Mission Accomplished!
Marion County Passes "Ulu's Law"

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Marion County Passes New Dangerous Dog Law

On July 5, Marion County Commissioner's passed a new dangerous dog law, a copy of which can be read in its entirely here.  The new provisions regarding the Dangerous Dog section of the ordinance, addressed almost all the issues that we were litigating in Ulu's case from the very beginning, over a year ago.  I will always think of the new Marion County Ordinance as "Ulu's Law."  The end result is that Marion County is now a much better place for dogs and their owners to live.

The litigation started with getting Ulu home via a Writ of Replevin, and sucessful Motions for Summary Judgment on the dangerous dog definition and the notice issue.  As a result of the case, the county attorney, in writing the new law, changed in a fundamental way the manner in which dangerous dog cases are handlend. The significant changes are:

  1. Dogs not a public health risk will now be allowed to stay home pending resolution of the dangerous dog investigation and appeal, provided the owner can show the animal can be safely secured;
  2. Visitation of dogs will be allowed three times a week for 15 minutes pending resolution of the dangerous dog investigation and appeal-this is not as important as it once was, when the county took all dogs into custody regardless of what they were charged with-most dogs will now be at home anyway;
  3. The "pack liability" clause was eliminated (if one dog in a group killed a cat, all the dogs could be charged with one dog's crime);
  4. The definition of dangerous dog is now consistent with state law-requiring a dog to kill another domestic animal twice before being declared dangerous;
  5. The hearing process has been given some clear boundaries-allowing cross examination and limiting the use of hearsay;
  6. Formal notice will be required to owners regarding the dangerous dog hearing;
  7. The Dangerous Dog Board will now contain five members, one to be appointed by each commissioner, to include people with dog experience - this part of the law is not contained in the current ordinance, and the county attorney was given 60 days to provide the commissioner with guidelines for appointment;
  8. The Dangerous Dog Board will be truly advisory-and the owner will be allowed to submit their own order to the board for consideration.

The commissioners refused my request to keep the De Novo hearing and provocation in animal on animal cases.  The De Novo hearing issue and how to appeal a dangerous dog classification will have to continue to be litigated in court - there is still no definitive answer on that issue.  As for the provocation defense in animal on animal cases, one of the commissioners who expressed reservations about not including it the defintion was told that the dangerous dog board can decide that.  I would propose getting that comment typed up, so that when the issue presents itself to the Dangerous Dog Board, that they are aware they can consider that issue.

And so, after more than a year of litigating Ulu's case, it appears that it has finally come to an end.  Ulu's legacy will benefit all dog owners, and I was proud to represent such a beautiful, sweet soul.  Ulu's owner has stood behind me in the case, and made it possible for us to get this far.  Thanks, Ulu and Sandy, for letting me take this ride with you.

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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