Town and county amending dog ordinances

In response to a recent Washington Court of Appeals ruling in a Pierce County case, San Juan County and the Town of Friday Harbor are in the process of amending their dangerous dog ordinances.

Both amendments are scheduled for initial consideration by the County Council and the Town Council at meetings on Tuesday, July 30, and Thursday, Aug. 1, respectively. Although the town may amend their dangerous dog ordinance immediately, both town and county are expected to pass the new ordinances in coming weeks.

The court case determined that fees charged for "fact-finding hearings" on appeal from a determination by a local animal control officer that a dog should be classified as a "dangerous dog" were unlawful.

In addition, both county and town ordinances now set forth a "probable cause" standard for the dangerous dog determination; the new ordinances will change that standard to a "preponderance of the evidence" standard now used for most civil court cases.


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