St. Charles Parish’s dangerous dog laws got tougher with the Parish Council citing more incidents reported in their districts.
Jena Troxler, supervisor of the parish’s Animal Shelter, said amendments to the law have been in the works nearly two years. The process typically has taken up to three months when the court is petitioned to deem a dog dangerous. State law states it is heard in five days, but Troxler said they intend to streamline the process “without clogging the court system” to have declarations within 30 days.
“Ninety-nine percent of our cases are human error in letting the dog escape,” she said.
Troxler said there were modifications to the definition of “at large” for cats and dogs as one not within the confines of its owner’s home, fence or fencing system, dog pen, primary enclosure or automobile and that is not on a tether, which restricts the animal to the confines of its owner’s property or is on a leash longer than six feet long. This modification clarifies that a pet is still considered at large if in the front yard of the home, but not within the confines of a fence or leash.
“We have many dog-on-dog attacks because a pet is loose in the front yard and while another pet walks down the street legally on a leash, the at-large dog bolts and attacks or harasses a passerby,” she said.
The law is also more specific about how a dog is defined as potentially dangerous or displaying dangerous characteristics.
It authorizes the animal control supervisor to investigate reported incidents, to send a certified letter to their owners and to maintain records showing this classification if future incidents occur, as well as require the owner take added measures to control the animal.
If the dog advances to being classified as “dangerous” tighter restrictions will apply in managing it that will include microchipping it and additional restraints at the owner’s expense including getting liability insurance.
A dog classified as “vicious” through attacks or biting humans will be impounded, which can be appealed by an appeals committee within 10 days. Depending on the severity of the attack, the dog could be euthanized.
“We’ve had some severe maulings,” Troxler told the council.
“Ninety-nine percent of our cases are human error in letting the dog escape.” – Animal Shelter Supervisor Jena Troxler
One of those incidents involved a pit bull attacking a child and then later attacked another child at a bus stop, which is why there is no probationary period on a classification, she said.
Councilwoman Mary Clulee added, “I’ve had several major dog situations in my district” and said she supported the ordinance amendments.
Philip Zeringue of Bayou Gauche also told the council the changes are long overdue,” recounting a situation where his then new neighbors had a pit bull that constantly tried to escape the yard and get over his fence.
“You can’t imagine the noise and commotion a large dog can create,” he said.
The couple was cited twice for the dog, he said.
Overall, Zeringue added, “These people are concealing these animals. It creates a lot of uneasiness in the neighborhood.”
He said his aunt was traumatized by witnessing a pit bull kill a pet.