PORT ANGELES — Dog-on-dog violence would trigger the designation of a dangerous dog should the Clallam County commissioners adopt proposed changes to county code later this month.
The three commissioners Tuesday set a May 31 public hearing on the proposal made by the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Issues Advisory Committee.
Hearings also were scheduled for May 31 on proposed changes to the employee benefits policy and ethics code.
The hearings will start at 10:30 a.m. in the commissioners’ boardroom (160) at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.
Clallam County Animal Control Officer Tracey Kellas said the highlight of the proposed changes are the ways in which a dog can be declared dangerous or potentially dangerous.
“Now a dog can be declared dangerous for severe injury on another domestic animal, where before it was only on a person,” Kellas said.
Also, the requirement for spaying or neutering a dangerous or potentially dangerous dog would be removed because the Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office deemed that requirement to be unconstitutional.
Clallam County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols reviewed the proposed changes last Wednesday.
“He signed off on it, which is why we’re here now,” Kellas told commissioners in their Monday work session.
Commissioner Steve Tharinger asked Kellas why the language about spaying and neutering animals was being taken out.
“That is not constitutionally permissible,” Kellas said.
“You are not allowed to take someone’s property — and an animal is still property under Washington state law — and irrevocably change it.
“So that, for both potentially dangerous and dangerous dogs, had to be stricken.”
However, the proposal contains financial incentives for a pet owner to spay or neuter an animal.
It costs $150 to license a spayed or neutered potentially dangerous dog compared with $450 to license a non-spayed or non-neutered, potentially dangerous dog.
Dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs would have to be kept on a “substantial chain or leash,” Kellas said.
An invisible electronic leash would not pass code.
“This animal has already done something to get to this state, which is why we’re asking for a physical barrier,” Kellas said.
“We’re not going to take that chance where the dog’s going to run out and bite someone else because they ran through their electronic collar.
“We have to protect our citizens as best we can and their pets.”
Under the proposal, a new section would be added to the code that would allow the dangerous or potentially dangerous designation to be removed after two years with no violations.
________Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at [email protected]