TITLE 4
Animals and Animal Husbandry

CHAPTER 4-13.1
Regulation of Vicious Dogs

SECTION 4-13.1-11


§ 4-13.1-11 Determination of a vicious dog.

(a) In the event that the dog officer or law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a dog is vicious, the chief dog officer, or his or her immediate supervisor, or the chief of police, or his or her designee, is empowered to convene a hearing for the purpose of determining whether or not the dog in question should be declared vicious. The dog officer or chief of police shall conduct, or cause to be conducted, an investigation and shall notify the owner or keeper of the dog that a hearing will be held, at which time he or she may have the opportunity to present evidence why the dog should not be declared vicious. The hearing shall be held promptly within no less than five (5), nor more than ten (10), days after service of notice upon the owner or keeper of the dog. The hearing shall be informal and shall be open to the public. The hearing shall be conducted by a panel of three (3) persons that shall consist of the chief of police, or his or her designee, the executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.), or his or her designee; and a person chosen by the chief of police and the executive director of the S.P.C.A. All members of the panel shall have one vote in making a determination whether or not the dog in question is vicious. Hearing officers shall have immunity.

(b) After the hearing, the owner or keeper of the dog shall be notified in writing of the determination. If a determination is made that the dog is vicious, the owner or keeper shall comply with this chapter in accordance with a time schedule established by the dog officer or chief of police, but in no case more than thirty (30) days subsequent to the date of the determination. If the owner or keeper of the dog contests the determination, he or she may, within five (5) days of that determination, bring a petition in the district court within the judicial district where the dog is owned or kept, praying that the court conduct its own hearing on whether or not the dog should be declared vicious. After service of notice upon the dog officer, the court shall conduct a hearing de novo and make its own determination as to viciousness. The hearing shall be conducted within seven (7) days of the service of the notice upon the dog officer or law enforcement officer involved. The issue shall be decided upon the preponderance of the evidence. If the court rules the dog to be vicious, the court may establish a time schedule to ensure compliance with this chapter, but in no case more than thirty (30) days subsequent to the date of the court's determination. If the owner has not complied with the provisions of this chapter at the end of thirty (30) days from the written notification that the dog is vicious, the dog may be euthanized.

(c) The court may decide all issues for or against the owner or keeper of the dog regardless of the fact that the owner or keeper fails to appear at the hearing.

(d) The determination of the district court shall be final and conclusive upon all parties. The dog officer or any law enforcement officer shall have the right to convene a hearing under this section for any subsequent actions of the dog.

(e) In the event that the dog officer or law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that the dog in question is vicious and may pose a threat of serious harm to human beings or other domestic animals, the dog officer or law enforcement officer may seize and impound the dog pending the hearings.

The owner or keeper of the dog is liable to the city or town where the dog is impounded for the costs and expenses of keeping the dog. The city or town council may establish by ordinance a schedule of those costs and expenses.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1986, ch. 429, § 3; P.L. 1989, ch. 470, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 365, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 374, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 308, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 430, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 512, art. 2, § 48.)