Peninsula Clarion file photo

Peninsula Clarion file photo

Kenai approves animal control ordinance

Requires animal owners who violate animal ordinances have an arraignment before a judge

The city of Kenai hopes to address animal control concerns with a new ordinance approved at Wednesday’s Kenai City Council meeting.

The ordinance requires that animal owners who violate control and treatment of animals ordinances three times within a 12-month period have a mandatory arraignment before a judge. Currently, owners are just required to pay a fine.

“We feel that if you’ve been cited three times and you’re not doing anything to change the behavior, we need to take an additional step,” said City Attorney Scott Bloom. “That additional step is to make the person go to an arraignment before a judge. Oftentimes, the judge will talk to people and sometimes they will listen to the judges more than they’ll listen to animal control officers.”

The ordinance also clarifies the definition of a “vicious animal” as an animal that has done unreasonable harm to a human or another animal in a hostile manner or has been found to be a dangerous animal by the court twice. A dangerous animal is defined as an animal who has done harm to somebody, whether it was in a playful or hostile manner. Bloom said the clarification is to help judges make a distinction.

The ordinance also created a minor citation failure to reasonably constrain or control an animal that causes harm to another person or animal unless the animal that causes harm is on the private property of the owner.

“Situations occur when an animal has not yet been found to be vicious or dangerous, but is not responsibly restrained and causes injury to another person or animal,” Bloom wrote in the agenda packet. “Due to the seriousness of the consequences, Animal Control would like to be able to issue a citation that is more serious than the $50 citation, but because the owner may not have had prior warning that their animal would cause harm is less than the $500 maximum citation.”

The new minor citation will result in a $100 fine.

The ordinance passed and will take effect in March 2019.

“I think we’ve come a long way from the theme and theory of cats on a leash and I wish to commend everybody for their positive participation in this,” said Councilmember Jim Glendening.

Reach Kat Sorensen at ksorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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