By Allen Worrell Editor
January 3, 2014
Carroll County has unsuccessfully tried to pass dog ordinances in the past, but one supervisor wants citizens to know about the state’s dangerous dog registry.
Carroll County Supervisor Sam Dickson brought up the subject during a recent meeting of the Board of Supervisors. He said he recently read that some counties in Virginia have a dangerous dog registry. He was unsure if Carroll was included in the registry, but said he felt like the county needed to be.
“It’s not like a vicious dog, it is a dangerous dog, and the way they get on it, if they bite someone or attack, especially children, they end up on that dangerous dog registry,” Dickson said. “If they kill a companion dog or another small animal, you get a court order and then they go on that. You may say, ‘That is no good. What does that do?’ It makes their homeowner’s insurance go up and also it can cause them to have to muzzle that dog. I would like to know if we participate in that and if we do, do we publish that list somewhere of where these dogs are so that people are aware?”
Carroll County Attorney Jim Cornwell said there is a statute regarding the declaration of a dog as a dangerous dog and the declaration of a dog as a vicious dog. If certain criteria are met, a petition is brought to the general district court to declare a dog dangerous. That criteria usually includes a dog attacking a person or killing a companion animal. The General District Court Judge would then declare the dog dangerous or vicious.
“If he declares a dog vicious, then the dog is destroyed. If he declares the dog dangerous, then the dog is retained by the animal control officer for a period of time, and if the dog owner does not meet certain criteria, the dog is destroyed,” Cornwell said. “But the criteria for a person to get their dog back as a dangerous dog is that they have to have the insurance, they have to have a kennel that meets certain standards, they have to post notice at their house that the dog is dangerous, they have to muzzle the dog whenever the dog is walked outside, it has to always be on a lease. So the statute has a list of conditions once the dog is declared dangerous.”
Cornwell said he was unsure if Carroll County has a registry of dangerous dogs, but he knew the animal control officer has a list of dangerous dogs. That list could be posted on the county’s website, he said.
“I frankly have not been involved in one in quite some time in Carroll County, so I don’t know if we have any dangerous dogs or not,” Cornwell said. “I don’t know when the last proceeding was brought to declare a dog dangerous.”
County Administrator Gary Larrowe said there are no dangerous dogs listed in Carroll County.
“If there was one that was eligible to be dangerous, it was surrendered and destroyed because of the cost that is involved and because of the insurance that is involved, so no one is on the registry in Carroll County as a result of that,” Larrowe said.
Dickson said he has been approached by two different people recently concerned with dogs in their neighborhood, even though they haven’t bitten anyone yet. There’s not much a dog warden or animal control officer can do about it until a dog actually bites someone or a companion animal, he said.
“So I was hoping that maybe if we get this information out that maybe people would realize there was such a thing they might be able to call animal control and say, ‘This dog probably meets the criteria to be a dangerous animal,’ and then we could follow with it,” Dickson said, “and then if we can get them on that list, we can get more people involved with it and maybe it would solve some of the problems.”
Cornwell said Carroll County used to have an ordinance, but the law changed several years ago and now it is a state law. Even without a county ordinance, Cornwell said the animal control officer can still bring a petition to have a dog declared dangerous or vicious.
“But I don’t think we can make a list of dogs that we think is dangerous,” Cornwell said. “I think a dog would have to be declared dangerous by the court.”
Cornwell said the county has had a couple of public hearings on dog ordinances in recent years.
“We’ve had a lot and we never got anywhere with that, so maybe this is one way to combat that,” Dickson said. “If you would, maybe just talk to (Animal Control Officer Terry) Woods and see if he has a solution. Maybe some other localities have done something that helped identify some dogs.”