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City of Helena seeks to create offense for dangerous dogs, no dog bite law on books currently

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 11:00:31-04

HELENA — The City of Helena is considering a change to the Animal Control Ordinance that would see a change to dangerous dogs laws.

The proposed rewrite of the code would create the offense of a dangerous dog should a person’s animal charge menacingly, or causes injury to a human or domesticated animal.

The City currently has no offense for a dog that bites someone or kills a pet. When those situations occur, the individual is charged with having a ”nuisance animal,” which is more akin to a barking dog.

The proposal would also give municipal court the ability to order the relinquishment of a dangerous dog independent of any criminal prosecution.

Under current law, a conviction is required before a dangerous animal can be removed from the owner.

The cost of caring for that animal while the case is being heard falls upon the Lewis and Clark Humane Society (LCHS).

LCHS Executive Director Kelsee Dalton Watts says the current law is convoluted, and isn’t in the best interest of the animals.

“It really delays the process, slows everything down and it’s not good for these animals to be housed in this environment for that long.,” said Watts. “The best thing we can do for them is get them is get them in here, get to know them and get them right out into a home. Not have them become accustomed to living in a kennel.”

The City Commission will hold their first vote on the revised code at Monday’s Commission Meeting.