Prairie Village approves changes to animal control ordinance creating classifications for ‘potentially dangerous’ and ‘vicious’ animals

Sophie-Dog-Vicsiou

After months of work and discussion, the Prairie Village City Council on Monday approved a series of changes to its animal control ordinance that create two new classifications for animals that may pose a threat to people or other pets. The changes also shift the process for appealing the designation of an animal as a threat from the city council to the municipal court.

Under the updated animal control ordinance, the city now has three classifications for animals that may pose a threat: potentially dangerous, dangerous, and vicious.

Here are the definitions for each category from the updated code:

  • Potentially dangerous animal means any animal which, when unprovoked: 1) Inflicts bites on a human or domestic animal either on public or private property; or 2) any animal with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury, or otherwise to threaten the safety of humans or domestic animals.
  • Dangerous animal means an animal which: 1) When unprovoked, aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals; 2) When unprovoked, has a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, cause injury to, or otherwise threaten the safety of human beings or domestic animals; 3) Has been found to be potentially dangerous and after the person responsible therefor has notice that the animal is potentially dangerous, the animal aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals; or 4) Is owned, harbored, sheltered, kept, controlled, managed, or possessed primarily or in part for the purpose of fighting or is trained for fighting.
  • Vicious animal means an animal which has: 1) When unprovoked, has inflicted a vicious bite to any person or domestic animal on public or private property; 2) When unprovoked, has killed a domestic animal while off the property of the person responsible for such vicious animal; or 3) Been declared to be dangerous and after the person responsible therefor has notice that the animal has been declared dangerous, the animal aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of humans or domestic animals.

The owners of potentially dangerous and dangerous animals must apply each year for a special permit to keep the animal. If an animal is declared vicious, the owners must either euthanize it or remove it from the city and document its new location. Here’s the applicable language from the code:

If the Municipal Court determines that an animal is vicious, the Municipal Court shall order that the animal be euthanized or that the person responsible for such animal remove the animal from the City limits and shall provide the Municipal Court with the exact location, address, and contact information for the new person responsible where the animal has been moved.

The city has, in recent years, faced a number of situations in which animal control officers have deemed an animal dangerous, and the animal’s owner appealed that decision. Under the city’s previous animal control ordinance, that appeal would go directly to the city council. Police and city staff recommended moving the appeal process out of the council and into the city’s court system.