AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAW REGULATING THE OWNERSHIP OF DANGEROUS DOGS.
Amends GS 67-4.1 concerning definitions used in GS Chapter 67, Article 1A, Dangerous Dogs, deleting the definition for dangerous dog. Adds new definition for at-risk dog, which includes such behavior as engaging, without provocation, in any behavior that requires a defensive action by a human to avoid bodily injury. Changes the term "potentially dangerous dog" to "dangerous dog" and provides that a dog must have committed certain acts, without provocation, to meet this definition (previously, did not include the provocation language). Adds language that provides that the term "dangerous dog" also includes a dog determined to be a dangerous dog under GS 67-41.A(b). Adds and defines the following terms: serious injury and severe injury. Also adds and defines vicious dog. Makes various technical and clarifying changes to the list of exclusions from applicability of the provisions of GS Chapter 67, Article 1A, including that the provisions do not apply in regards to excessive barking or vocalization as long as the dog is not exhibiting other at-risk, dangerous, or vicious behaviors. Provides that county or municipal boards responsible for animal control must designate a person or board responsible for determining if a dog is an at-risk dog, a dangerous dog, or a vicious dog. Makes conforming changes.
Enacts new GS 67-4.1A outlining procedures for at-risk dogs, providing that, after proper determination, appeals, and notification, the owner will be required to take appropriate steps to correct the behavior. Gives examples of ways to correct behavior, including successful completion of a dog behavior class or a similar program found acceptable. Further provides that if a dog previously determined to be an at-risk dog exhibits the same behavior a second time within 24 months, then the owner will be responsible for an infraction as defined in GS 14-3.1. Provides that after the above the animal control authority can designate the dog as a dangerous dog, subject to the specified hearings and appeals. Provides that if no at-risk behavior has occurred after 24 months have elapsed then the owner can apply to the animal control authority to have the designation removed.
Amends the catchline of GS 67-4.2 to be Precautions against attacks by vicious or dangerous dogs (was, Precautions against attacks by dangerous dogs). Makes clarifying changes and adds the term "vicious dog" to the provisions. Also include new provision providing it is unlawful to keep a vicious or dangerous dog on the premises without posting a sign within 30 days of the determination that the dog is dangerous or vicious in a conspicuous location outside of the property. Sets out appropriate language to be included on the sign. Requires dangerous dogs to be on a leash no longer than six feet. Makes conforming changes.
Enacts new GS 67-4.2A, Additional requirements for owners of vicious dogs, providing that it is unlawful for an owner to possess a vicious dog without the dog being registered as a vicious dog with the animal control authority and that it is unlawful for an owner to possess a vicious dog which has not been sterilized if appropriate. Further provides that it is unlawful for a person under 18 years old to own, control, or be responsible for a vicious dog. Provides that violations of this section constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Amends the catchline of GS 67-4.3 to be Penalty for attacks by vicious or dangerous dogs (previously did not include "vicious" in the title). Provides new provisions which make the owner guilty of a Class I felony if the dog which was previously determined to be vicious attacks a person and causes serious physical injury. Makes it a Class F felony when a dog previously determined to be vicious attacks a person and causes the victim's death; also requires such dog to be euthanized. Provides that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor if a dog previously determined to be dangerous attacks a person and causes physical injuries requiring medical treatment in excess of $1,000 (was, $100).
Makes conforming changes to GS 67-4.4, Strict Liability, providing that owners of vicious dogs are strictly liable for civil damages for injuries or property damage the dog inflicts on a person, his or her property, or another animal.
Makes clarifying changes to GS 67-4.5, Local ordinances, providing that no local ordinances adopted for the control of dangerous dogs can be specific as to breeds, phenotypes, or appearance of the dogs.
Effective December 1, 2015, applying to offenses committed on or after that date.
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