[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Muhlenberg 9-6-1977 by Ord. No. 132; amended in its entirety 4-20-2009 by Ord. No. 470 (Ch. 47 of the 1982 Code). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to promote the public health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the Township of Muhlenberg and to ensure the humane treatment of animals by regulating the care and control of animals within the Township.
When used in this chapter, the following words, terms and phrases, and their derivations, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- ANIMAL HOSPITAL
- Any establishment maintained and operated by a licensed veterinarian for surgery, diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases and injuries.
- ANIMAL NUISANCE
- Any nuisance arising out of the keeping, maintaining, owning or failure to exercise sufficient control of an animal.
- ANIMAL SHELTER
- Any facility operated by the Animal Rescue League or a similar organization for the temporary care, confinement and detention of animals and for the humane euthanization and other disposition of animals. The term shall also include any private facility authorized by the Board of Commissioners of Muhlenberg Township to impound, confine, detain, care for or destroy any animal.
- AT LARGE
- An animal which is off the premises of the owner and not on a leash or otherwise under the immediate control of a person physically capable of restraining the animal.
- The deliberate action of a dog, whether or not in response to a command by its owner, to bite, to seize with its teeth or to pursue any human or animate or inanimate object with obvious intent to destroy, kill, wound, injure or otherwise harm the object of its action.
- Any act or omission whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering or death of an animal is caused or permitted, including failure to provide proper drink, air, space, shelter or protection from the elements, a sanitary and safe living environment, veterinary care or nutritious food in sufficient quantity. In the case of activities where physical pain is necessarily caused, such as medical and scientific research, food processing, customary and normal veterinary and agricultural husbandry practices, pest elimination, and animal training and hunting, "cruelty" shall mean a failure to employ the most humane method reasonably available.
- DANGEROUS DOG
- A dangerous dog is one that has:[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
- A. Inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property;
- B. Killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal, dog or cat without provocation while off the owner's property;
- C. Attacked a human being without provocation;
- D. Been used in the commission of a crime.
- DESIGNATED ANIMAL CONTROL AUTHORITY
- The animal control agency that has a contract with the Township of Muhlenberg.
- Adoption, quarantine, voluntary or involuntary custodianship or placement, or euthanasia humanely administered to an animal. "Disposition" includes placement or sale of an animal to the general public or removal of an animal from any pet shop to any other location.
- DOMESTIC AGRICULTURAL ANIMAL
- Any nonwildlife or nonexotic species altered through controlled breeding for the primary purpose of agricultural use or farming purposes is strictly prohibited.
- DOMESTIC COMPANION ANIMAL
- Any nonwildlife or nonexotic species altered through controlled breeding for the primary purpose of human companionship and serving no widely recognized agricultural, farming use or working purposes.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- Any member of the Township of Muhlenberg Police Department, any authorized official acting on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, any designated animal control authority and any person authorized by resolution of the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Muhlenberg to enforce this chapter.
- EXEMPT EXOTIC ANIMAL
- Any nondomestic animal, not native to Pennsylvania, routinely offered for sale by pet stores within Pennsylvania, nonpoisonous reptiles not exceeding a maximum length of 60 inches at maturity, nonpoisonous fish, and nonpoisonous amphibians not requiring state, federal or Township permitting.
- EXOTIC ANIMAL
- Any nondomestic animal, which includes but is not limited to all bears, coyotes, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, wolves, nonhuman primates, birds, alligators, crocodiles, or any crossbreed of these animals which has similar characteristics in appearance or features.
- GUARD OR ATTACK DOG
- A dog trained to attack on command or to protect persons or property and who will cease to attack upon command.
- The animal is directly behind or next to a person and obedient to that person's command.
- The taking into custody of an animal by any police officer, animal control officer, or any authorized representative thereof.
- Any premises wherein any person engages in the business of boarding, breeding, buying, letting for hire, training for a fee or selling dogs or cats.
- A device, constructed of strong, soft material or of metal, designed to fasten over the mouth of an animal to prevent the animal from biting any person or other animal.
- NATIVE WILDLIFE ANIMAL
- All nondomestic animals naturally occurring in the wild within the borders of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- Any person having temporary or permanent custody of, sheltering or having charge of, harboring, exercising control over, or having property rights to any animal covered by this chapter. An animal shall be deemed to be harbored if it is fed or sheltered for three or more consecutive days.
- PUBLIC NUISANCE ANIMAL
- Any animal that unreasonably annoys humans, endangers the life or health of any person or other animals, or substantially interferes with the rights of citizens, other than their owners, to enjoyment of life or property. The term "public nuisance animal" shall include but not be limited to:
- A. Any animal that is found running at large.
- B. Any dog or cat in any section of a park or public recreation area, unless the park or public recreation area allows dogs or cats by posted public notice and the dog or cat is controlled by a leash or similar physical restraint.
- C. Any animal that damages any property other than that of its owner.
- D. Any animal that makes disturbing noises, including but not limited to continued and repeated howling, barking, whining or other utterances causing unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises where the animal is kept or harbored.
- E. Any animal that causes fouling of the air by noxious or offensive odors and thereby creates unreasonable annoyance or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises where the animal is kept or harbored.
- F. Any animal in heat that is not confined so as to prevent attraction or contact with other animals.
- G. Any animal, whether or not on the property of its owner, that without provocation molests, attacks or otherwise interferes with the freedom of movement of persons in a public right-of-way.
- H. Any animal that chases motor vehicles in a public right-of-way.
- I. Any animal that attacks domestic animals.
- J. Any animal that causes unsanitary conditions in enclosures or surroundings where the animal is kept or harbored.
- K. Any animal that is offensive or dangerous to the public health, safety or welfare by virtue of the number of animals maintained at a single residence or the inadequacy of the facilities.
- A condition of good order and cleanliness to minimize the possibility of disease transmission.
- The Township of Muhlenberg, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
- UNDER RESTRAINT
- An animal is secured by a leash or lead under the control of a person physically capable of restraining the animal and obedient to that person's commands or securely enclosed within the real property limits of the owner's premises.
- VICIOUS OR DANGEROUS ANIMAL
- Any animal that attacks, bites or physically injures human beings, domestic animals, or livestock without provocation or which, because of temperament or training, has a known propensity to attack, bite, or physically injure human beings, domestic animals, or livestock. Any wild animal or any animal that without provocation has bitten or attacked a human being or other animal shall be prima facie presumed vicious or dangerous.
Editor's Note: See 34 Pa.C.S.A. § 2961.
It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any animal on any property located within the incorporated limits of the Township when the keeping of such animal constitutes a public nuisance or menace to public health or safety.
It shall be unlawful for anyone to own, harbor or permit at large any exotic animal, domestic agricultural animal, or native wildlife animal within the Township without the written permission and permit issued by the enforcement officer. All exempt exotic animals are not subject to permitting requirements.
Any person who desires to own, possess, keep or maintain within the Township any exotic animal, domestic agricultural animal, or native wildlife animal shall apply for a permit from the enforcement officer, who, upon request, shall provide a permit application, which shall require disclosure of the following information:
The name and address of the owner.
Identification of the exotic animal by genus and species or of the domestic agricultural animal or native wildlife animal by common name reference.
A physical description of the animal.
The gender of the animal.
Confirmation that the animal may be poisonous and, if so, the exact location within the owner's residence where the animal will be located under usual and ordinary circumstances.
Proof of liability insurance in an amount not less than $100,000.
Information regarding security measures to be taken to prevent escape.
Any other information deemed relevant by the enforcement officer.
The enforcement officer may inspect the security measures to be taken to prevent escape.
The enforcement officer shall issue a permit if the following criteria are satisfied, in the judgment of the enforcement officer:
The permit fee, which the Township Board of Commissioners by resolution shall require, has been paid by the applicant;
The permit application form has been completed properly and fully;
Proof of liability insurance is filed with the permit application form;
Proof that adequate security measures have been taken to prevent escape; and
The animal for which the permit is sought is not likely to endanger the health or safety of Township residents.
A written statement by the enforcement officer that he/she has inspected the proposed security measures and considers these measures adequate shall be evidence of compliance with Subsection D(4).
The burden of proving that the animal for which the permit is sought is not likely to endanger the health or safety of Township residents shall be upon the applicant.
Any owner of an animal shall provide the animal with sufficient and wholesome food and water, protection from weather, and appropriate veterinary care.
If any animal shall be kept in an enclosure outside the dwelling, the provisions of this chapter shall be applicable to the keeping of the household pet.
The animal shall be confined in an enclosure, including an electric fence, sufficient to prevent the animal from running at large, and the enclosure shall be of a size and construction conducive to the animal's health, and adequate sanitary drainage facilities shall be provided.
No person shall beat, torment or abuse any animal.
No person shall allow, organize or participate in any physical combat between animals or between animals and humans for sport, wagering or entertainment.
No person shall throw or deposit in any public road, street, alley, park or other place, whether public or private, within the Township any poisonous substance which may be liable to be consumed by an animal.
All persons in control of any property shall be responsible for the sanitary maintenance of the premises on which any animals are housed, maintained or kenneled.
The number of animals housed or maintained within a structure, or upon any premises, shall be limited only to those animals that can be adequately maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, as determined by the enforcement officer.
Animal shelters, or areas in which animals are maintained, shall be permitted only as approved by the enforcement officer. Animal shelters shall not be constructed or located in such a manner that they create a health hazard or nuisance to the adjoining property owners.
People owning, harboring or keeping an animal within the Township shall not permit any waste matter from the animal to collect and remain on the property of the owner or custodian, or on the property of others, so as to cause or create an unhealthy, unsanitary, dangerous or offensive living condition on the owner's or custodian's property, or to the property of others.
Owners of leashed or unleashed animals shall be responsible for the immediate removal and disposal of fecal matter deposited by his or her animal anywhere within the Township.
The litter and droppings from any animal shall be collected daily in a container or receptacle that, when closed, shall be ratproof and flytight, and after every collection the container or receptacle shall be closed. At least once a week, all litter and droppings so collected shall be disposed of in such a manner as not to permit the presence of fly larvae and/or rodents.
Excess animal food shall not be allowed to accumulate in such a manner as to create a food source for bacteria, insects or rodents.
No person shall maintain, transport or carry any animal or pet in any eating and drinking establishment, food manufacturing or food service facility, except trained guide dogs for the blind or those with some other medical condition requiring the assistance of a trained guide dog.
It shall be unlawful for the owner of any dangerous dog and/or aggressive dog to fail to keep such dangerous dog and/or aggressive dog under restraint or to permit such dangerous dog and/or aggressive dog to run at large upon the streets and public ways of the Township.
Any dog, while on a street, sidewalk or public way or in any park, public square, or other public space, or upon any private property without the consent of the owner, shall be secured by a leash or chain of sufficient tensile strength to restrain the particular dog or shall be at heel and securely muzzled.
No owner or custodian of any animal shall fail to exercise proper care and control of such animal to prevent the same from becoming a public nuisance.
Every female dog in heat shall be confined to the residence of the owner or keeper in such a manner that such female dog cannot come into contact with another animal except for planned breeding.
The running at large of animals is prohibited.
Every owner of a guard or attack dog shall keep such dog confined in a building, compartment or other enclosure. Any such enclosure shall be completely surrounded by a fence at least six feet in height and shall be topped with an anticlimbing device constructed of angle metal braces with at least three strands of equally separated barbed wire stretched between them.
All anticlimbing devices shall extend inward at an angle of not less than 45° nor more than 90°, when measured from the perpendicular.
The areas of confinement shall have all have gates and entrances thereto securely closed and locked, and all fences shall be properly maintained and escape-proof.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to dogs owned or controlled by government law enforcement agencies.
Every dangerous dog or aggressive dog shall be confined by its owner or authorized agent of its owner to the residence of the owner or keeper. Such residence shall be conspicuously posted with a placard provided by the Township. Whenever off the premises of its owner, the dog shall be securely muzzled and restrained with a chain having a minimal tensile strength of 300 pounds and not more than three feet in length or caged. Every person harboring a dangerous dog or aggressive dog is charged with an affirmative duty to confine the animal in such a way that individuals, except for the owner, do not have access to such animal.
Any person finding an animal at large upon his property may remove the same to any animal shelter that will take possession of the animal. If no such shelter is available, the property owner may hold the animal in his own possession and, as soon as possible, notify the enforcement officer or designated animal control authority. The property owner shall provide a description of the animal and the name of the owner, if known.
If the name of the owner or custodian of an animal found at large is known or can be obtained with reasonable dispatch, the designated animal control authority or enforcement officer shall make attempts to notify the owner.
Any enforcement officer or other designated person on call who removes a large animal, such as a horse, cow, mule or any other animal not accepted by any animal hospital or shelter, shall be authorized to call a trucking firm or company, which shall convey the animal to a farm or other appropriate facility that has an agreement with the Township to accept such animals. The disposition of any animal removed to a facility other than an animal hospital or shelter shall be handled in the same manner as though the animal were confined in an animal hospital or shelter. The Township and animal shelter are authorized, under the terms of this chapter, to bill the owner of the animal for any charges incurred.
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
No dangerous dog may be kept within the Township except in compliance with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Dangerous Dog Act, 3 P.S. § 459-101 et seq.
In addition to any other remedies provided in this chapter, an enforcement officer or the designated animal control authority may seize, impound and humanely confine to an animal shelter or hospital any of the following animals:
Any dog without a valid permit tag or license.
Any animal at large.
Any animal constituting a public nuisance or considered a danger to the public.
Any animal that is in violation of any quarantine or confinement order of an enforcement officer.
Any unattended animal that is ill, injured or otherwise in need of care.
Any animal that is reasonably believed to have been abused or neglected.
Any animal that is reasonably suspected of having rabies.
Any animal that is charged with being potentially dangerous or aggressive or displays aggressive behavior, where the designated animal control authority, the enforcement officer, or the Police Department of the Township determines that there is a threat to public health and safety.
Any animal that a court of competent jurisdiction has ordered impounded or destroyed.
Any animal that is considered unattended or abandoned, as in situations where the owner is deceased or has been arrested or evicted from his regular place of residence.
Any exotic animal, domestic agricultural animal, or native wildlife animal without a valid permit.
The enforcement officer may also, or in lieu of impoundment, issue to the owner a citation.
Upon impoundment of an animal, the enforcement officer or designated animal control authority shall immediately attempt to notify the owner by telephone or certified mail. The owner shall also be advised that the failure to claim the animal within a specified period of time may result in the disposition of the animal.
Any animal not reclaimed by its owner within 48 hours shall become the property of the Township and shall be placed for adoption in a suitable home or euthanized in a manner prescribed by the designated animal control authority.
Any domestic or exotic animal purporting to be owned by a person under the age of 18 years shall be deemed to be owned by that person's parent or parents, guardian or any other person with whom the person under the age of 18 years shall be residing at the time of any violation of this chapter.
The enforcement officer may take such lawful action as may be required to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
The costs incurred by the Township to trap or impound any domestic or exotic animal running at large, including any domestic or exotic animal in heat, shall be recovered by the Township against the owner in a civil action or as restitution in any enforcement action brought pursuant to this chapter.
Restitution in any enforcement action brought pursuant to this chapter may include reimbursement for any damage to property or injury to person, including but not limited to cost of repair and medical expenses.
Any person who violates any provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 plus costs and, in default of payment of said fine and costs, to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days.