Op-Ed: Regulations for Pets and Pet Owners
The following op-ed is written by Campbell County Attorney Steve Franzen
As the weather turns from cold to warm, more people are going outside to breathe the fresh air and feel the sun. Now that Covid is hopefully coming to a close, those people outside might travel with their pet. While it is nice to take the pet for a walk, there are responsibilities that a pet owner must comply with.
It is required by Kentucky law for an owner to vaccinate their dog, cat or ferret by the time the animal reaches the age of four (4) months and then revaccinated whenever the expiration of the immunization period ends. The veterinarian who vaccinates the pet will issue the owner a certificate that proves the veterinarian vaccinated the animal. On the certificate there will be a time to have the animal brought in to be revaccinated. Along with the certificate, owners will receive a tag that bears a serial number that correlates with the certificate given to the owner. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure the tag is worn at all times by the animal and to produce the vaccination certificate to animal control or peace officers.
If a dog does not bear a valid rabies tag or other legible identification, then the dog is considered running at large. Such dog can be impounded by an animal control officer and taken to an animal shelter where the dog will be confined in a humane manner. The animal shelter shall keep the dog for up to five (5) days for the owner or a new home to be found. If the owner is found, they will be contacted immediately and be required to show proof of rabies vaccination while paying for any fees incurred while impounding the dog. An owner is required to pay these fees even if the dog is not reclaimed.
Any person who is attacked by a dog may seize or euthanize the dog at the victim’s discretion. If the victim feels that they have been harmed, they may file a complaint before the district court which charges the owner with harboring a vicious dog. This complaint will be served upon the owner so that they are compelled to appear in court. The court may find that the owner is personally liable to pay for all damages for personal injuries that resulted from the dog attacking the victim. The owner shall also be responsible for a fine that is no less than ten dollars ($10) nor more than one hundred dollars ($100).
In the event that a person is bitten by a dog, cat or ferret, a health officer, or their agent, shall have the authority to quarantine the animal for ten (10) days. If the health officer feels that the animal in question is contaminated with rabies, they may require the animal be euthanized and tested for rabies. It is prohibited for the owner to euthanize, or dispose of, the animal in question prior to the testing of rabies. If the owner euthanizes, or disposes of, the animal prior to the test, the owner shall be liable for the rabies treatment.
Finally, it should be noted that most local jurisdictions have ordinances requiring that a pet owner clean up the waste created by the animal. Not only is it common courtesy, it is the law. These same ordinances prohibit a pet owner from taking their dog to a park without a leash, chain or cord held by the pet owner. It may seem like tying the animal to a tree, or other inanimate object, is a solution but that action is also prohibited. In general, when outside, it is important that the owner is always with their dog and have their dog secured on a leash.
I hope this information is interesting and helpful for all residents of Campbell County. If you have any topics you would like to have us address, please contact my office by e-mail at [email protected]