North Richland Hills adopts changes to domestic animal ordinance

Posted Thursday, May. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Owning a dangerous dog in the city will be costly to those who keep them.

And ferrets are now considered domestic animals in North Richland Hills, the same classification as dogs and cats.

The City Council has approved changes to the city’s animal regulations ordinance that in part increases the cost of owning a dangerous dog from a $63 annual registration fee to a $600 fee. That’s if the owner gets to keep the dog.

Dogs deemed dangerous can be ordered to be euthanized; removed from the city, a new provision, provided they have a microchip implanted in them; or remain with the owner under certain restrictions that include a city approved enclosure. North Richland Hills will accept no dangerous dogs from outside the city.

Dogs can be declared dangerous if they attack another animal outside their enclosure in addition to humans. Previously, the ordinance applied only to attacks on humans, unless the animal attacked was killed.

Finally, the city will label dogs “dangerous” and “non-dangerous” instead of the previous terms “registerable” and ”non-registerable” (dangerous). The new terms are more understandable to the public, said Chun Mezger, city humane division supervisor.

Typically, dangerous dogs are either reported by residents or identified by animal control officers, Mezger said. The case then goes to the city’s humane division where the officers and the director can declare a dog dangerous. Owners can appeal to a municipal judge.

Ferrets, meanwhile, had previously been labeled “exotic animals,” which required a special permit. Mezger said the city ordinance now more closely follows state law by declaring them domestic animals. Ferrets must have proof of a rabies vaccination, a previous requirement, and be registered with the city.

Millie Sanders, of the Balch Springs-based Texas Ferret Lover’s Rescue, hailed the city’s decision. She said that ferrets are domesticated animals. Their life expectancy in the wild is only three days, she said. Ferrets are becoming more popular because they are playful, curious animals. But they love to escape from their homes to explore, she said.

Mezger said no event prompted the changes. She said “it was just time” to revise the ordinance and bring it up to date.

The council voted 7-0 on April 22 to approve the changes.

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