Jefferson County postpones animal control code hearing

Potential changes include requiring all dogs be on a leash

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners postponed a public hearing regarding changes to the animal control chapter of the county code that would require all dogs to be on leash when off their property.

Proposed changes also would allow the county to designate more than one official animal shelter, and they would modify specific definitions.

The public hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 17 and will be conducted via Zoom. The meeting can be accessed either by going to https://zoom.us/j/93777841705 or by calling 1-253-215-8782 and entering Webinar ID: 937-7784-1705#.

The meeting can also be viewed by going to www.co. jefferson.wa.us and by following the links under “Quick Links, “Videos of Meetings” and “Streaming Live.”

Written comments can be submitted in advance by emailing [email protected]

Under the proposed changes, the leash law would require all dogs that are not on the property of their owner, keeper or handler to be on a leash up to 8 feet long, with their owner, handler or keeper maintaining control of the leash, Sheriff Joe Nole said during an April 12 commission meeting.

That excludes specific off-leash dog parks such as the one at Mountain View Commons in Port Townsend.

Current animal control policies allow for dogs to run while under verbal commands from their owner. However, the county has had issues with owners not controlling their dogs and letting them run free.

Animal control officers won’t be patrolling or looking to write tickets for people who don’t have their dog on a leash, but if an incident occurs, such as a bite or an attack, the proposed law would give them the ability to write a ticket if necessary, Nole said.

The change to allow more than one designated shelter for Jefferson County would streamline the process of getting injured animals to proper care and save the county money, Nole said.

Currently, the humane society doesn’t have veterinary care, and the code requires deputies to drive to Poulsbo for emergency cases. By modifying the code to allow more than one, it would allow deputies to transport injured animals to Quilcene’s Center Valley Animal Rescue, which has the capacity to care for severely injured animals, Nole said.

The definition of a “dangerous dog” would also be modified in the proposed changes. It would include any dog that inflicts severe injury to a human without provocation while on public or private property or kills a domestic animal or livestock without provocation off their owner’s property, or was previously found to be potentially dangerous prior to an injury inflicted on a human and the dog again aggressively bites, attacks or endangers the safety of humans, according to commission documents.

A potentially dangerous dog is one that, when unprovoked, inflicts bites on a human, domestic animal or livestock, or chases or approaches a person aggressively, or a dog with a known tendency to attack or threaten the safety of humans, animals or livestock, the documents said.

The definition of a domesticated animal would be expanded from just dogs and cats to include an “animal that is customarily devoted to the service of humankind at the place that it normally lives,” the documents said.

The full proposed code changes can be read at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-JCAnimalControl.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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