Township of Clark, NJ
Union County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[1]
Editor's Note: This article is a restatement of provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-19 through 4:19-35.
A. 
An Animal Control Officer shall seize and impound a dog when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the dog:
(1) 
Attacked a person and caused death or serious bodily injury as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1(b) to that person;
(2) 
Caused bodily injury as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1(a) to a person during an unprovoked attack and poses a serious threat of harm to persons or domestic animals;
(3) 
Engaged in dog fighting activity as described in N.J.S.A. 4:22-24 and N.J.S.A. 4:22-26; or
(4) 
Has been trained, tormented, badgered, baited or encouraged to engage in unprovoked attacks upon persons or domestic animals.
B. 
The dog shall be impounded until the final disposition as to whether the dog is vicious or potentially dangerous. Subject to the approval of the Township Health Officer, the dog may be impounded in a facility or other structure agreeable to the owner.
A. 
The Animal Control Officer shall notify the Township Clerk and the Township Health Officer immediately that he has seized and impounded a dog, or that he has reasonable cause to believe that a dog has killed another domestic animal and that a hearing is required. The Animal Control Officer shall through a reasonable effort attempt to determine the identity of the owner of any dog seized and impounded. If its owner cannot be identified within seven days, that dog may be humanely destroyed.
B. 
The Animal Control Officer shall, within three working days of the determination of the identity of the owner of a dog seized and impounded, notify by certified mail, return receipt requested, the owner concerning the seizure and impoundment, and that, if the owner wishes, a hearing will be held to determine whether the impounded dog is vicious or potentially dangerous. This notice shall also require that the owner return within seven days, by certified mail or hand delivery, a signed statement indicating whether he wishes the hearing to be conducted or, if not, to relinquish ownership of the dog, in which case the dog may be humanely destroyed. If the owner cannot be notified by certified mail, return receipt requested, or refuses to sign for the certified letter, or does not reply to the certified letter with a signed statement within seven days of receipt, the dog may be humanely destroyed.
Notwithstanding any provision in N.J.S.A. 4:19-17 et seq. to the contrary, the Township and the owner of the dog may settle and dispose of the matter at any time in such manner and according to such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon. Notwithstanding any provision of N.J.S.A. 4:19-17 et seq. to the contrary, no Township or any of its employees shall have any liability by virtue of having entered into any settlement agreement pursuant to this section, or for any action or inaction related to the entry into such agreement, for any injuries or damages caused thereafter by the dog. The Township may, as a condition of the settlement agreement, also require that the owner of the dog hold the Township harmless for any legal expenses or fees the municipality may incur in defending against any cause of action brought against the Township notwithstanding the prohibition against such causes of action set forth in this section.
A. 
The Municipal Court shall declare the dog vicious if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the dog:
(1) 
Killed a person or caused serious bodily injury as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1(b) to a person; or
(2) 
Has engaged in dog fighting activities as described in N.J.S.A. 4:22-24 and N.J.S.A. 4:22-26.
B. 
A dog shall not be declared vicious for inflicting death or serious bodily injury as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1(b) upon a person if the dog was provoked. The Township shall bear the burden of proof to demonstrate that the dog was not provoked.
C. 
If the Municipal Court declares a dog to be vicious, and no appeal is made of this ruling pursuant to Section 9 of P.L. 1989, c. 307 (N.J.S.A. 4:19-25), the dog shall be destroyed in a humane and expeditious manner, except that no dog may be destroyed during the pendency of an appeal.
A. 
The Municipal Court shall declare a dog to be potentially dangerous if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the dog:
(1) 
Caused bodily injury as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1(a) to a person during an unprovoked attack, and poses a serious threat of bodily injury or death to a person; or
(2) 
Killed another domestic animal; and
(a) 
Poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to a person; or
(b) 
Poses a threat of death to another domestic animal; or
(3) 
Has been trained, tormented, badgered, baited or encouraged to engaged in unprovoked attacks upon persons or domestic animals.
B. 
A dog shall not be declared potentially dangerous for:
(1) 
Causing bodily injury as defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1(a) to a person if the dog was provoked; or
(2) 
Killing a domestic animal if the domestic animal was the aggressor.
C. 
For the purposes of Subsection A(1) of this section, the Township shall bear the burden of proof to demonstrate that the dog was not provoked.
If the Municipal Court declares the dog to be potentially dangerous, it shall issue an order and a schedule for compliance which, in part:
A. 
Shall require the owner to comply with the following conditions:
(1) 
To apply, at his own expense, to the Township Health Department or other official designated to license dogs pursuant to Section 2 of P.L. 1941, c. 151 (N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.2), for a special municipal potentially dangerous dog license, municipal registration number, and red identification tag issued pursuant to Section 14 of this Act. The owner shall, at his own expense, have the registration number tattooed upon the dog in a prominent location. A potentially dangerous dog shall be impounded until the owner obtains a municipal potentially dangerous dog license, municipal registration number, and red identification tag;
(2) 
To display, in a conspicuous manner, a sign on his premises warning that a potentially dangerous dog is on the premises. The sign shall be visible and legible from 50 feet of the enclosure required pursuant to Subsection A(3) of this section;
(3) 
To immediately erect and maintain an enclosure for the potentially dangerous dog on the property where the potentially dangerous dog will be kept and maintained, which has sound sides, top and bottom to prevent the potentially dangerous dog from escaping by climbing, jumping or digging and within a fence of at least six feet in height separated by at least three feet from the confined area. The owner of a potentially dangerous dog shall securely lock the enclosure to prevent the entry of the general public and to preclude any release or escape of a potentially dangerous dog by an unknowing child or other person. All potentially dangerous dogs shall be confined in the enclosure or, if taken out of the enclosure, securely muzzled and restrained with a tether approved by the Animal Control Officer and having a minimum tensile strength sufficiently in excess of that required to restrict the potentially dangerous dog's movements to a radius of no more than three feet from the owner and under the direct supervision of the owner;
B. 
May require the owner to maintain liability insurance in an amount determined by the Municipal Court to cover any damage or injury caused by the potentially dangerous dog. The liability insurance, which may be separate from any other homeowner policy, shall contain a provision requiring the municipality in which the owner resides to be named as an additional insured for the sole purpose of being notified by the insurance company of any cancellation, termination or expiration of the liability insurance policy.
The owner of the dog, or the Animal Control Officer in the Township in which the dog was impounded, may appeal any final decision, order, or judgment, including any conditions attached thereto, of a Municipal Court pursuant to P.L. 1989, c. 307 (N.J.S.A. 4:19-17 et seq.) by filing an appeal with the Superior Court, Law Division, in accordance with the Rules Governing The Courts of the State of New Jersey pertaining to appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction. The Superior Court shall hear the appeal by conducting a hearing de novo in the manner established by those rules for appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction.
A. 
If a dog is declared vicious or potentially dangerous, and all appeals pertaining thereto have been exhausted, the owner of the dog shall be liable to the Township in which the dog is impounded for the costs and expenses of impounding and destroying the dog. The Township may establish by ordinance a schedule of these costs and expenses. The owner shall incur the expense of impounding the dog in a facility other than the Township pound, regardless of whether the dog is ultimately found to be vicious or potentially dangerous.
B. 
If the dog has bitten or exposed a person within 10 days previous to the time of euthanasia, its head shall be transported to the New Jersey State Department of Health and Senior Services laboratory for rabies testing.
If the Municipal Court finds that the dog is not vicious or potentially dangerous, the Municipal Court shall retain the right to convene a hearing to determine whether the dog is vicious or potentially dangerous for any subsequent actions of the dog.
The owner of a potentially dangerous dog who is found by clear and convincing evidence to have violated this Act, or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, or to have failed to comply with a court's order shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 per day of the violation, and each day's continuance of the violation shall constitute a separate and distinct violation. The Municipal Court shall have jurisdiction to enforce this section. The Animal Control Officer is authorized to seize and impound any potentially dangerous dog whose owner fails to comply with the provisions of P.L. 1989, c. 307 (N.J.S.A. 4:19-17 et seq.), or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant thereto, or a court's order. The Municipal Court may order that the dog so seized and impounded be destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner.
The Township shall:
A. 
Issue potentially dangerous dog registration number and red identification tag along with a Township potentially dangerous dog license upon a demonstration of sufficient evidence by the owner to the Animal Control Officer that he has complied with the court's orders. The last three digits of each potentially dangerous dog registration number issued by the Township will be the three number code assigned to the Township in the regulations promulgated pursuant to Section 17 of P.L. 1989, c. 307 (N.J.S.A. 4:19-33). The Animal Control Officer shall verify, in writing, compliance to the Township Clerk or other official designated to license dogs in the Township;
B. 
Publicize a telephone number for reporting violations of this Act. This telephone number shall be forwarded to the Department and any changes in this number shall be reported immediately to the Department.
The fee for a potentially dangerous dog license and each annual renewal thereof shall be $500.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
The Animal Control Officer or Health Officer shall inspect the enclosure and the owner's property at least monthly to determine continuing compliance with paragraphs (2) and (3) of Subsection a. of Section 8 of this Act.
Any action undertaken pursuant to the provisions of this Act shall be deemed to be an exercise of a government function and shall be subject to the provisions of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 et seq.
All fines and fees collected or received by the Township pursuant to Sections 13 and 15 of this Act shall be deposited in a special account and used by the Township to administer and enforce the provisions of this Act. (N.J.S.A. 4:19-19 et seq.)