City Council approves changes to dangerous animal ordinance

On Friday, Oct. 8, the Minneapolis City Council approved changes to the City's dangerous and potentially dangerous animal ordinance (Section 64.110). The amendments are designed to help improve regulation of dangerous animals in Minneapolis and ensure the safety of neighborhoods and residents from dangerous animals.

The changes to the ordinance clarify and strengthen Minneapolis Animal Care & Control’s (MACC) ability to declare an animal dangerous or potentially dangerous. In the previous ordinance, MACC could not declare an animal potentially dangerous for aggressive behavior unless a bite occurred on the property of the dog’s owner. The amendment will now allow MACC to declare an animal potentially dangerous if an individual who is legally allowed on the property (i.e. mail carriers) experiences aggressive behavior that requires a defensive action but is not bitten.

MACC can now declare an animal dangerous when, unprovoked, an animal inflicts substantial bodily harm to a domestic animal off the property of the owner or custodian of the animal. Under the old ordinance, MACC could only declare an animal potentially dangerous for inflicting injury with a bite on a domestic animal, or declare a dog dangerous for killing a domestic animal. Some attacks are so severe that MACC felt that a stronger declaration than potentially dangerous, short of a destruct order, was warranted.

Under the new ordinance, ownership restrictions have also been changed. Those who operate a home day care are now prohibited from owning or housing a potentially dangerous or dangerous animal that has displayed aggression toward a person. Also, MACC now has the ability to restrict animal ownership if a person has had more than one dog declared potentially dangerous (on two separate occasions). Under the old ordinance, MACC did not have the ability to restrict animal ownership in cases like this.

Two other ordinance changes reflect MACC’s increased efforts to declare animals either potentially dangerous or dangerous at earlier stages in their aggression. By declaring animals after less serious bites, or for acts of aggression not resulting in a bite, owners have a greater ability to work with their dog to addresses the issues of aggression and have the declaration rescinded. The time period now for dangerous animals and potentially dangerous animals to receive a review of declaration is 12 months (previously 24) and 6 months (previously 12), respectively. Fees have also been reduced for responsible dog owners who have successfully completed an approved training program.

Under Minnesota State Statute and Minneapolis City Ordinance, domestic animals that have bitten or demonstrated aggression must be investigated to determine if that animal is a threat to the public’s safety and should be declared ‘dangerous’. Minneapolis Animal Care & Control conducts these investigations and makes dangerous animal declarations. Declarations are determined based on the severity of the incident, including serious bites and unprovoked aggressive behavior.

Published Oct. 8, 2010