Changes to dog ordinance discussed by Selectboard

BRATTLEBORO — Pet owners take note. The police department has presented changes to the ordinance governing dogs and other animals in town.

Brattleboro Police Captain Mark Carignan and Town Clerk Annette Cappy presented the changes to the Selectboard at its Feb. 2 meeting.

The ordinance, known officially as “Chapter 3 - Animals and Fowl ” - chair David Gartenstein chuckled each time he read the title aloud - required updates to bring it in line with state law, said Carignan. Some of the changes also reflected increased penalties for violations and fees.

Carignan said the town last updated its fines 13 years ago.

A section pertaining to dogs or wolf hybrids declared a nuisance underwent the biggest rewrite, from three lines to several paragraphs, said Carignan.

The existing section is vague, he said. It didn't provide the police enough guidance for when a dog repeatedly acted aggressively or lashed out.

“Every time it occurred, we had to reinvent the wheel,” said Carignan.

The rewrite outlines a process of declaring a dog “dangerous” and how the owner can appeal the designation. The rewrite includes a description of how the owner must confine a dog declared dangerous.

A dog or wolf hybrid earns the “dangerous” designation after it has “attacked, bitten, scratched or otherwise injured another domestic pet, domestic animal, or a person, or acted in an aggressive manner that would cause reasonable fear of injury.”

This section outlines the town's authority to euthanize such a dog or wolf hybrid. Owners have the right to appeal the town's decision.

Residents wishing to weigh in on the ordinance changes can attend the Feb. 16 Selectboard meeting. The board will hold a second reading of the changes and public hearing that night. The board is expected to vote on the changes following the public hearing.

Selectboard meetings are held on the second floor of the Municipal Center starting at 6:15 p.m.

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