City of Oxford votes in vicious dog ordinance

Published 10:08 am Thursday, September 3, 2020

Owners of dogs deemed vicious by a municipal court judge will now have to follow certain requirements if they wish to keep them moving forward.

During their meeting on Tuesday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen unanimously approved an amendment to Chapter 18, Article III, Sections 18-71, and 18-78 through 18-81 Code of Ordinances of the City of Oxford-Animals and Fowl.

The ordinance defines a vicious dog as “any dog with a known propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack without provocation, to cause injury to, or to otherwise threaten or endanger the safety of human beings, pets, or domesticated animals.” Any dog that “bites, inflicts injury, assaults, or otherwise attacks a human being, pet or domesticated animal without provocation,” is also another way a dog could be defined as “vicious.”

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Any owner whose dog is defined as “vicious,” which under the proposed ordinance would be determined by a Municipal Court judge after a complaint is filed with the Oxford Police Department, must adhere to the requirements proposed in the amended ordinance. An owner will still be allowed to appeal the judge’s ruling.

All “vicious” dogs must be secured indoors, but if the dog lives outdoors it must be confined in a secured enclosure where the dog cannot escape or other animals or people can access it. Underground fencing is not an approved method of securing the dogs under the proposed amendment to the ordinance.

Owners of a vicious dog are now also required to carry $100,000 in insurance as part of the approved ordinance amendment.

When a “vicious” dog is off its owner’s property, it must be on a leash and restrained by someone at least 18 years of age or older. The dog must also wear a muzzle. A dog defined as “vicious” is not allowed to be on a porch or patio.

If the owner does not comply with the requirements, if the proposed changes are voted into law by the Board, then they could face a misdemeanor charge and fined between $500-$1,000 and possibly face up to 90 days in jail.

If the court finds the owner is not fit to, or unable to provide the necessary measures required to keep their dog then they may be ordered by the court to surrender the dog to the city’s animal shelter.

Alderman Janice Antonow asked to waive the 30-day period before the amendment takes effect due to another recent incident involving a dog attack. The Board approved Antonow’s request.