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Town Tightens Up Laws on ‘Dangerous’ Dogs

When it comes to discerning what constitutes a ‘dangerous dog’ in the Town of Brookhaven, size does not matter. Amendments to Brookhaven’s Code which Brookhaven Town officials have adopted for guidelines on dogs is “not breed-specific,” says Brookhaven Deputy Town Attorney David Moran. The new amendments bring Chapter 23 of the Brookhaven Town Code into compliance with New York State regulations. According to Brookhaven Town Chief of Staff Emily Pines and Moran, “a series of provisions in the New York State Law required the town to amend its definition of what constitutes a ‘Dangerous Dog.’ The law pertains to any dog which, without justification, attacks a person, companion, animal or farm animal as defined by the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, and causes physical injury or death or behaves in a manner in which a person believes poses a serious and unjustifiable threat of serious injury to one or more person.
Pines explained that the under provisions of the previous statute, it was the obligation of an individual or victim to bring legal action against a dog owner or dog controller of a dangerous dog. Moran also noted that the town’s Animal Control Officer is obligated to follow the code and declare a dog is dangerous. “Now,” Pines delineated, “Brookhaven Town is required to bring action if a dog attacks or threatens a person or another animal.” A series of facts about whether the dog is a threat to human life or another dog is sent to the judge or arbiter and from there, it is the decision of the judgment of Sixth District Court as to whether the dog is declared dangerous and whether the canine would be returned to its owner, receive rehabilitation before being returned to its owner, be given to a farm or be euthanized. “We’ve seen cases where the owner would be required to build a confinement area,” Pines added, “but a dog is not automatically put down.” Moran and Pines pointed out that owners of dogs that are declared dangerous may be required to tether or muzzle the canines.
Moran underscored that the law and its amendments in both state and town laws are “not breed-specific,” and spans breeds from exotic large dogs to toy breeds as small as Chihuahuas, all of which he says can be “very territorial.”
Additionally, dogs entering town sanctioned dog parks are required to be issued a pooch pass and must be licensed. Pines and Moran said dogs “cannot run at-large” or unleashed.
Fines for pet redemptions under the amendments and updates to Chapter 23 of the town code incrementally increase with each offense and include: an amount not limited to $25 for a first offense, an amount not limited to $50 for a second offense, and amounts not limited to $100 or imprisonment not to exceed 15 days, or both, for third and subsequent offenses. A first and subsequent violations of provisions for which no penalty is specified may include penalties of $500 and or imprisonment; with an increase in the penalty to $750 and imprisonment for a second violation and $1,000 fines for third or subsequent violations for which no penalty is specified.005

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