Assembly passes ordinance clarifying pet citations
The Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance Tuesday night clarifying the wording of Title 17, the municipal animal laws, making it easier for animal control officers to write tickets for pet owners.
A Superior Court ruled the wording of the law was unclear, and required animal control officers to prove an owner was negligent in breaking the law before issuing citations. The ordinance passed Tuesday clarifies the language and makes owners strictly liable for their pets, meaning officers don’t have to prove negligence to cite them.
The new language returns enforcement to the way it was always supposed to be, said Animal Care and Control spokesperson Laura Atwood. She said enforcing laws like the leash law is a safety issue.
“Many dogs are friendly. Many dogs are not,” Atwood said. “You may have a friendly dog that’s off-leash and I’m walking by with a dog that isn’t friendly, and your off-leash dog runs up to mine and now we have a fight.”
The new enforcement language applies to all the laws covered in Title 17, including nuisance barking and animal bites.
Before the Assembly approved the change, Atwood said there was one instance when a dog got loose and attacked a neighbor’s dog, injuring it. Because animal control officers couldn’t prove negligence, there were no consequences for the owner.
“If that case were to happen now, we would be able to issue a citation to that owner, so that’s where you really see that difference, is just asking for that responsibility on everybody’s part,” Atwood said.
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