The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners adjusted the county’s animal control ordinances June 19 to bring them into conformance with similar ordinances in the county’s five cities.
The revised ordinances control rabies vaccinations, dogs at large, cruelty, harassment of police and service animals, animal fighting, indecency, littering, uncontrolled barking, unsanitary conditions and dangerous dogs.
• Dangerous dogs, defined as dogs that have killed or injured a human being or inflicted serious injury on another animal without provocation, are subject to removal and/or destruction if offenses are repeated. Fines and terms of imprisonment for owners who fail to restrain dangerous dogs are varied, depending on the severity of the offense and if offenses are repeated multiple times. Fines range from $500 to $1,000 to $10,000, while prison terms can range from seven days to two years.
• Rabies: All domestic animals must be vaccinated for the first time at the age of 3 months, vaccinated again one year later, and every three years thereafter. Persons failing to vaccinate their domestic animal risk a $100 fine and seizure of the animal.
• Dog at large: Dogs running freely, even if properly licensed, are subject to being impounded, with their owners or harborers subject to a $500 fine.
• Cruelty, defined as “knowing and intentional torture, repeated beating, or mutilation,” is subject to a maximum of three years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
• Neglect or abandonment is subject to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. If the neglect or abandonment results in serious injury or death of the animal, those penalties jump to a maximum of two years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
• Teasing or the harassment of a police animal in order to distract it from its duties is punishable by a $500 fine. If the harassment causes the death of the animal, the penalty jumps to a maximum three years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine, or both.
• Injuring or harassing a service animal is subject to a maximum of three months in prison and a $500 fine, or both.
• Animal fighting is subject to some of the heaviest penalties, with dog fighting, cockfighting, bear baiting or any other form of animal combat completely prohibited. Violations are subject to three years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
• Littering, or the improper disposal of animal waste on property not belonging to the animal owner, can result in three months imprisonment and a $500 fine. A second offense jumps to six months imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. A third offense could bring a one-year prison sentence and a fine of $1,000.
• Failing to restrain habitual barking or yowling, or menacing behavior, is subject to a penalty of three months imprisonment and a $500 fine.
• Allowing unsanitary conditions to develop, thus causing obnoxious odors and attracting flies and vermin, is punishable by three months imprisonment and a $500 fine.