Kitsap Animal Control Issues Potentially Dangerous Animal Declaration

June 30, 2016

Kitsap Animal Control (KAC) has issued a Potentially Dangerous Animal (PDA) declaration in the case involving a dog owned by Margarita Mozzer.  The Husky dog allegedly attacked and injured a woman in Port Orchard on June 20 and then subsequently attacked and injured the responding officer while she was trying to contain the animal.  The PDA declaration requires the dog’s owner to conform with a number of restrictions, such as muzzling of the dog when outside of the property, keeping the dog confined behind a secure fence while on the property, registering the animal as Potentially Dangerous, and securing at least $50,000 in insurance indemnification.  Failure to fully abide by these restrictions could result in further sanctions, potential future impoundment of the animal, and potential criminal charges. The PDA declaration may be appealed by the dog’s owner to a Hearing Examiner.

Despite the first-hand experience of an Animal Control officer being attacked, KAC, in consultation with its counsel at the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office (Civil Division), determined that the PDA declaration was the maximum legal action that could be taken in this case.  Additionally, multiple citations and fines will be levied for ordinance violations in this case, such as bite infractions, animal-at-large, and failure to license the pet.  Chase Connolly, KAC’s Animal Control Field Manager, added “in this case, both Washington State and Kitsap County law limited Animal Control from taking additional actions such as confiscating or euthanizing the animal.” Following a required 10-day bite-quarantine, KAC will release the animal back to its owner, subject to the restrictions stated above.

Connolly stated: “Even though we had a documented history of prior bite aggression by this dog in Oregon, we did not have the legal authority to register the animal here as a Potentially Dangerous Animal prior to the current incidents.  (An additional prior incident in 2015 that was videotaped and has been widely seen was viewed by Animal Control officers, but no identifying information was ever provided for Animal Control to act on).  The bite incidents on June 19, for all practical purposes, constitute a first offense, rather than a compounding on top of prior violations, which could have allowed for more aggressive legal actions by Animal Control. This creates a gap in protection for the public which we would like to see addressed in the future via code changes.”

Eric Stevens, Executive Director of Kitsap Humane Society, which oversees Animal Control, urged the public to always report cases of animal aggression to Animal Control, explaining that “we need to hear quickly from direct victims or witnesses of animal aggression, so we can investigate, educate and enforce where appropriate.”