MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) -- Keeping your "dangerous" dog at your rural home and off canine death row will cost $100 a year beginning today.
Madison County voters approved the constitutional amendment in November 2012 requiring new annual registration fees. Its authority only applies to dogs and their masters in unincorporated areas.
But Mike Fritz, Director of Madison County Animal Services, says there are several misconceptions about the new law.
"This is not breed specific," Fritz insists. "It's not aimed at Pit Bulls or Rottweilers or German Shepherds -- it's any breed -- it could be a Chihuahua or a Cocker Spaniel, it could be any number of breeds but solely based on the actions of the dog."
The law defines a dangerous dog as a canine that has bitten, attacked, or caused physical injury to a human being, without provocation, or has repeatedly bitten or caused physical injury to humans, except a dog used by law enforcement officials for legitimate law enforcement purposes, a certified guide dog for the blind, a hearing dog for the deaf, or a service dog for the disabled.
The law allows the county to humanely destroy the dangerous dog, or return it to the owner if certain requirements are met. The latter includes keeping the dog in a securely enclosed area and registering it as a dangerous dog with county's animal control department. But Fritz points out this is all at a judge's discretion.
"Not me, not the county attorney, not Madison County Commission, it's a judge in our court systems here in Madison County that will make the decision if the dog is to be deemed dangerous or not."
Fritz says if a dog is deemed dangerous owners, will have to meet certain specifications including erecting a topped pen. If the pen is not situated on a concrete footing, Fritz says, the fencing must extend two feet into the ground to prevent digging out and the enclosure must be properly locked.
"Key, pad-lock or combination lock along with signage indicating there is dangerous dog on the property."
The verification includes having a current photograph and proof of rabies vaccinations, proper outdoor enclosure, being spayed/neutered, permanently identified with tattoo or microchip and that the owner has taken out an insurance policy of at least $100,000 to cover medical and veterinary costs should a future dog attack cause injuries.
Click Here to read the Madison County dangerous dog law in its entirety.