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Amendment to the Dogs Running at Large Ordinance

ORDINANCE O2020-02

NELSON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AMENDMENT OF THE CODE OF NELSON COUNTY

CHAPTER 3, ANIMALS, ARTICLE II DOGS AND CATS

SEC. 3-43 DOGS RUNNING AT LARGE

BE IT HEREBY ORDAINED, by the Nelson County Board of Supervisors that the Code of Nelson County, Virginia Chapter 3, Animals, Article II, Dogs and Cats is hereby amended as follows:

Sec..3-43 Dogs Running at Large

An owner shall not allow his/her dog to run at large in the County, subject to the following:

(a) When a dog is deemed to run at large.

(1)  For the purposes of this section, a dog is deemed to “run at large” while roaming or running off the property of its owner or custodian and is not under its owner’s or custodian’s immediate control. Under “immediate control” shall mean (i) secured by leash or lead, or (ii) under control of a responsible person and obedient to that person’s commands, or (iii) within the real property limits of its owner or other person consenting to its presence.

(2) “Off the property of its owner or custodian” includes, but is not limited to, an easement burdening the property of the dog’s owner or custodian, or other person consenting to the dog’s presence, for a public right-of-way, public road, public sidewalk, or public trail.

(b) When a dog is not considered to be running at large.

A dog is not considered to “run at large” in the following circumstances:

Dogs Used for Hunting. Dogs used for hunting are exempted from the prohibitions of this
ordinance and shall not be deemed to be running at large provided any such dog is wearing a
collar with a tag showing the name and telephone number of the owner of the dog.

Field trials or training. During field trials or formal obedience, agility, or similar training periods when the dog is accompanied by its owner or custodian.

Fenced dog park or exercise area. When the dog is in a securely fenced, specifically designated dog park or dog exercise area established by the County or another governmental entity, a homeowner’s association, or a community organization, where the fencing is designed to prevent a dog from escaping.

Service dog; when leashing is not required. When the dog is a service animal whose handler, because of a disability, is unable to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of such a device would interfere with the service dog’s safe and effective performance of work or tasks, provided that the service dog is otherwise under the handler’s control through voice control, signals, or other effective means.                                                                                                             

Public service training. During search and rescue and similar public service training when the dog is accompanied by its owner or custodian, or by a qualified handler, provided the owner, custodian, or handler has the express permission of the owner or occupant of the property on which the dogs are being trained.

Farm dogs. When the dog is a working farm dog that is either guarding or herding cows, fowl, goats, sheep, swine, or other domestic animals normally raised on a farm.

(c) When a dog is reported to be running at large.

(1) Except as provided in subsection 2 below, upon receipt of a complaint, the Animal Control Officer shall investigate and, if satisfied of the truth of the complaint, issue a warning, in writing, to the owner or custodian of the dog that any future violation shall result in the imposition of a $150.00 civil penalty.  Any person summoned or issued a ticket for a violation may make an appearance in person or in writing by mail to the treasurer prior to the date fixed for trial in court.  Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial, admit liability, and pay the civil penalty of $150.00.  Imposition of civil penalties shall not preclude an action for injunctive, declaratory, or other equitable relief.  A second and subsequent violation shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(2)  The owner or custodian of a dog found running at large in a pack shall be subject to a civil penalty of $100.00 per dog so found.  Any person summoned or issued a ticket for a violation may make an appearance in person or in writing by mail to the treasurer prior to the date fixed for trial in court.  Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial, admit liability, and pay the civil penalty.

(3)  Proceedings pursuant to this section may only be initiated by an Animal Control Officer or other law enforcement officer.

(d) Seizure, Impoundment and disposition.

Any dog observed or captured while unlawfully running at large may be seized, impounded and disposed of by an Animal Control Officer or other law enforcement officer pursuant to Virginia Code §3.2-6546.

(Va. Code §§ 3.2-6538, 3.2-6543, and 3.2-6546)

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED, that this Ordinance becomes effective upon adoption.

Approved: November 10, 2020                                  Attest:_________________________,Clerk

Nelson County Board of Supervisors

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