Houston, a city known for its vibrant culture and love for pets, places a high priority on public safety, especially when it comes to potentially dangerous dogs.
The Houston Dangerous Dog Registry, managed by the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC), serves as a vital tool for enhancing public safety and facilitating legal action following dog bite incidents. In this article, we will delve into the workings of this registry and its significance.
Understanding the Need for the Dangerous Dog Registry
Every year, BARC receives nearly 40,000 service requests related to dogs. While most of these cases do not involve immediate threats to public safety and can often be addressed through education, warnings, or citations to dog owners who violate the law, there are instances where the risk is more severe.
The Dangerous Dog Registry was established to identify and monitor dogs with a history of aggressive behavior, ensuring the safety of the community.
Defining a Dangerous Dog
The State of Texas Health and Safety Code provides a clear definition of what constitutes a dangerous dog. A dog can be classified as dangerous if it meets one of the following criteria:
- The dog makes an unprovoked attack on a person, causing bodily injury, outside of an enclosure designed to prevent the dog from leaving on its own.
- The dog commits unprovoked acts that lead a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury, occurring outside of an enclosure designed to prevent the dog from leaving on its own.
The Process of Identifying and Managing Dangerous Dogs
The City of Houston has established a well-defined procedure, outlined in Article 6 of the Code of Ordinances, to address the issue of dangerous dogs. Here’s an overview of the process:
- Filing a Complaint: The process begins with a person making a sworn complaint to BARC, usually in the form of a notarized affidavit, stating that a dog within the city limits is dangerous.
- Review and Investigation: The complaint is reviewed by Animal Control Managers. If the case aligns with the state’s definition of a dangerous dog, an investigation is initiated.
- Impoundment Pending Hearing: If, after the investigation, the Animal Control Manager believes there are grounds to declare a dog dangerous, they issue a written order to the dog owner, requiring the dog to be impounded at a city facility pending a hearing.
- Hearing and Determination: A Hearing Officer conducts a hearing, considering evidence from both the city and the dog owner. The Hearing Officer then makes a determination on the case.
- Outcomes: Depending on the Hearing Officer’s decision:
- If the dog is not deemed dangerous, it is returned to the owner.
- If the dog has caused severe bodily injury or death, it may be ordered to be euthanized.
- If the dog is declared dangerous but not euthanized, the owner is given thirty days to comply with the conditions set by the Hearing Officer. Failure to comply leads to a decision on the dog’s disposition by Animal Control Managers and Veterinary staff.
Public Safety Significance and Reporting
Houston’s Dangerous Dog Registry serves as a critical resource for public safety. It empowers residents to be aware of potentially dangerous dogs in their neighborhoods and areas they plan to visit. By having access to this information, individuals can take precautions and exercise greater vigilance, especially in locations where these dogs are known to be present.
In the unfortunate event of a dog bite incident, the Dangerous Dog Registry can be instrumental in legal actions. It provides a clear record of a dog’s history of aggressive behavior, which can significantly strengthen a victim’s case and support legal proceedings.
To initiate the process and report a dangerous dog, individuals can mail notarized affidavits to 3200 Carr Street, Houston, TX 77026, Attn: Animal Control. For questions and assistance related to the Dangerous Dog Registry or the process, residents and concerned parties are encouraged to contact BARC at 311 or 713-229-7300.
In conclusion, Houston’s Dangerous Dog Registry is a powerful tool for enhancing public safety and ensuring responsible dog ownership. By maintaining this system, the city underscores its commitment to protecting its residents and visitors from the risks associated with potentially dangerous dogs. It is a testament to the city’s dedication to a safe and harmonious community where pets and people can coexist peacefully.
What is Houston’s Dangerous Dog Registry, and why is it important for public safety?
Houston’s Dangerous Dog Registry is a publicly accessible database that identifies and monitors dogs with a history of aggressive behavior. It is important for public safety because it allows residents to be aware of potentially dangerous dogs in their vicinity and helps take precautions to ensure safety.
How can I report a dog that I believe is dangerous to be added to the registry?
To report a potentially dangerous dog, you must submit a sworn complaint to BARC in the form of a notarized affidavit, indicating that a dog within the city limits is dangerous. Details about the process are available on the BARC website or by contacting BARC directly.
What criteria are used to classify a dog as dangerous, according to the State of Texas Health and Safety Code?
The state’s definition of a dangerous dog includes two key criteria: unprovoked attacks on a person causing bodily injury and unprovoked acts that make a person reasonably believe the dog will attack and cause bodily injury. Both incidents must occur outside an enclosure that reasonably prevents the dog from leaving on its own.
What happens during a dangerous dog hearing, and who makes the determination?
During a dangerous dog hearing, a Hearing Officer reviews evidence presented by both the city and the dog owner. The Hearing Officer is responsible for making a determination on whether the dog is dangerous based on the presented evidence.
If a dog is declared dangerous, what are the potential outcomes for the dog and its owner?
If a dog is declared dangerous, the outcome may vary based on the severity of its past behavior. In the most serious cases, where the dog has killed or caused serious bodily injury to a human being, it may be ordered to be euthanized. If not euthanized, the dog may be subject to specific conditions set by the Hearing Officer, and the owner must comply within a designated time frame.
Can I access the Dangerous Dog Registry as a resident or visitor to Houston?
Yes, the Dangerous Dog Registry is publicly accessible. Anyone can search the registry to identify potentially dangerous dogs in their neighborhood or areas they plan to visit. This information empowers individuals to take necessary precautions.
What should I do if I encounter a potentially dangerous dog in my neighborhood or a public area?
If you encounter a dog that you believe is potentially dangerous, it is essential to report the incident to local authorities, as this is the first step in initiating the process to classify the dog as dangerous. Contact BARC at 311 or 713-229-7300 for questions and assistance.
Concerned about Dangerous Dogs in Houston? Seek Legal Guidance!
Navigating the complexities of dangerous dog incidents can be overwhelming. If you or a loved one has encountered an unfortunate incident involving a potentially dangerous dog, seeking legal advice and support is crucial.
Crystal Henry, an experienced personal injury attorney, is here to help you through these challenging situations. With a dedicated focus on personal injury cases, Crystal Henry can provide expert guidance and representation when you need it the most.