Animal control in a city is an issue that leads to many questions from our members, especially in cities where there is no city animal control officer. To give better guidance to our cities, this article is intended to set forth the statutory guidelines and responsibilities of both counties and cities as to animal control with a focus on those cities with no city animal control officer.
KRS 67.083(3)(a) expressly grants to the county the power of animal control. This means that the statutory default is for the county to have jurisdiction throughout the county for animal control policy and enforcement.
KRS 258.195(1) however further defines this power by stating, “[t]he governing body of each county shall employ, appoint, or contract with an animal control officer, or shall contract with an entity that employs, appoints, or contracts with an animal control officer, and shall establish and maintain an animal shelter as a means of facilitating and administering KRS 258.095 to 258.500…” KRS 258.195(3) goes on to state, “[a]nimal control officers shall have the authority to issue uniform citations, local citations, or local notices for the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter, the provisions of the Kentucky Revised Statutes relating to cruelty, mistreatment, or torture of animals, and animal control ordinances on their respective jurisdictions.”
The permissive language of KRS 258.195(2) grants to cities the option to, “employ, appoint, or contract with animal control officers, or may contract with an entity that employs, appoints, or contracts with animal control officers, for the enforcement of this chapter and local animal control ordinances within their corporate limits.” This language may lead a city to conclude that in the absence of a city exercising the authority to employ, appoint, or contract with an animal control officer, KRS 67.083(3)(a) and KRS 258.195(1) places the responsibility for all animal enforcement within the city and county upon the county government. This conclusion, however, would fail to give effect to the portion of KRS 258.195(1) which states an animal control officer is necessary “as a means of facilitating and administering KRS 258.095 to 258.500,” the chapter of the Kentucky Revised Statutes governing Animal Control and Protection.
This express statutory direction to a county as to the duties of the county animal control officer undercuts the argument that a city opting not to have a local animal control officer could then require the county animal control officer to enforce any and all of the local municipal ordinances as to animal control.
A review of KRS 258.095 to 258.500 sets forth the specific areas of enforcement where the county animal control officer shall act based on their statutory mandate within the county.
258.135 Establishment of dog licensing program by county or city ordinance
(1) The governing body of each county may establish an animal licensing program by ordinance. It shall be the responsibility of each county to administer and enforce its licensing program.
258.212 Tampering with or removal of domesticated animal's identification prohibited; exceptions; penalty
(1) No person other than the owner shall tamper with or remove without permission an identification tag, chip, locator, or electronic tracking device from a domesticated animal of any age, including but not limited to a hound or dog used in the sport of hunting.
(3) Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
258.215 Seizure, impounding, and destruction of dog lacking rabies tag or other identification; holding period before destruction; notice to owner; reclamation of dog, cat, or ferret; fees; quarantine; exemption of hunting dog
(1) Peace officers or animal control officers shall seize and impound any dog which does not bear a valid rabies tag or other legible identification which is found running at large. Any dog which an officer or animal control officer seizes shall be impounded in the designated animal shelter of the county and confined in a humane manner. If, after a reasonable effort, the seizure of an unrestrained dog cannot be made, or the dog presents a hazard to public safety or property or has an injury or physical condition which causes the dog to suffer, the animal control officer or peace officer may immediately destroy the dog by the most reasonable and humane means then available.
258.225 Peace officers and animal control officers required to perform duties; interference prohibited
(1) It shall be unlawful for any peace officer or animal control officer to refuse to perform his duties under the provisions of this chapter.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to interfere with any peace officer, animal control officer, or agent in the enforcement of this chapter.
258.235 Authority to kill or seize dog; return by court to owner of vicious dog; liability for damage; proceeding by person attacked by dog; disposition of dog after seizure; powers of animal control officer; vicious dog not to run at large
(5)(b) The animal control officer shall act as an officer of the court for the enforcement of any orders of the court in his jurisdiction pertaining to this subsection.
(7) It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any vicious dog, after receiving an order under subsection (5) of this section, to permit the dog to run at large, or to appear in public except as provided in subsection (3) of this section. Any vicious dog found running at large may be killed by any animal control officer or peace officer without liability for damages for the killing.
258.245 Dogs with rabies vaccination and identification considered personal property; destruction prohibited
All dogs that have a valid rabies vaccination and bear identification are hereby declared to be personal property and subjects of larceny. Except as provided in KRS 258.235, it shall be unlawful for any person except a peace officer or animal control officer to destroy, or attempt to destroy, any dog that bears identification.
258.265 Care and control of dog; destruction of dog running at large at night; exemption for hunting dogs
(2) Any peace officer or animal control officer may seize or destroy any dog found running at large between the hours of sunset and sunrise and unaccompanied and not under the control of its owner or handler. A peace officer or animal control officer shall be under a duty to make a fair and reasonable effort to determine whether any dog found at large between sunset and sunrise is a hound or other hunting dog which has become lost temporarily from a pack or wandered from immediate control of its owner, or handler, and if he is reasonably sure that the dog is a hunting dog, then he shall not destroy the dog, unless it is found in the act of pursuing or wounding livestock, or wounding or killing poultry, or attacking human beings.
258.335 False statements and concealment of facts prohibited
It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to make any false statement or to conceal any fact required to be disclosed under any of the provisions of this chapter.
As you can see based on the statutory language, the conclusion on behalf of the city must be that they may only require the county animal control officer to act within the city for city ordinance enforcement if the violation can also be rooted in facilitation and administration of a statute within KRS 258.095 to 258.500. Some overlap must be present.
Most of the calls we get at KLC have to do with stray dogs. If a city is needing a stray dog local ordinance enforced, they would be wise to be aware of the requirements of KRS 258.265(2) prohibiting a dog running at large between sunset to sunrise as a means of getting county animal control enforcement within the city. By the same token, in other areas of local municipal animal enforcement, a city would be wise to examine the above-mentioned statutes to see how local ordinances could be crafted to achieve local animal enforcement aims.
Should you have any additional questions, please contact Chris Johnson, municipal law attorney with KLC at 859-977-3709 or at email him.