The Kalispell City Council bit back at aggressive dogs on Monday by unanimously approving a strict ordinance requiring, among other things, that dogs deemed dangerous have identification numbers tattooed on their inner thighs.
The move follows a slew of recent incidents resulting in injured residents and dead canines.
"In the past two years we've had a number of issues with very aggressive and dangerous dogs where people have been injured and the police have had to dispatch dogs on scene," says Kalispell City Attorney Charles Harball. "In a period of two months I think our police officers ended up shooting three dogs."
The ordinance, which goes into effect Jan. 5, states the owner of a dangerous dog must display a warning sign, build a proper enclosure, muzzle the dog and keep it on a leash no longer than six feet in length when it's off the owner's property. Owners must also notify law enforcement when the dog is at large, is sold or dies. Additionally, the court can require a dangerous dog's owner to post a $50,000 surety bond payable to any person injured by the dog, pay an annual licensing fee of $250, and have a registration number tattooed on the dog's right inner thigh.
The Kalispell Municipal Court can deem a dog dangerous following a hearing, Harball explains, and those are scheduled only if a warden or police officer petitions for one.
"It seems to have been over the last five or six years to be the cool thing, for some people, to get a junkyard dog. Get yourself a real bad-ass dog and then you're cool," Harball says. "And then some of the people who were doing that really didn't have the means to take care of them...and basically they just end up having a mean dog. So this is an attempt to put some responsibility on the part of the owners."