WAPELLO — Animal bites happen even during a pandemic, so a delayed effort by the Louisa County Board of Health (BOH) to establish a dangerous animal ordinance in the county received board approval Tuesday.
Louisa County Public Health Service Administrator Roxanne Smith told BOH members during a Zoom meeting that she had developed the proposal using ordinances adopted by other counties and following state guidelines.
She also reported the proposed ordinance had been reviewed and approved by county attorney Adam Parsons.
“If you like it and don’t need any more changes, it would be approved by you and sent off to the board of supervisors to see if they want to adopt it (countywide),” Smith said.
“I liked it,” board member Jacinta Wangui said.
According to the proposal, the definition of a dangerous animal would be limited to a dog, cat or ferret that had been engaged in or trained for exhibitions of fighting; attacked a person or domestic animal without justification, causing serious bodily injury or death; or was declared to be dangerous by animal control authority, court and/or the governing board of Louisa County or any other jurisdiction.
The ordinance would require owners to keep every animal under restraint, not allow animals to trespass and be responsible for all costs if an animal is quarantined, impounded or the owner appealed any decisions. Owners and/or legally-mandated local law enforcement officials would also be required to report all animal bites immediately to the Louisa County Public Health Department.
The proposed ordinance would require an investigation by law enforcement, the LCPHS administrator or the administrator’s designee to begin within 48 hours following any incident in which an animal was suspected of being a dangerous animal. If the investigation determined the animal was dangerous, the owner would receive an official notification of that decision by certified mail or hand delivery. The animal could then be quarantined for ten days and possibly be humanely destroyed depending on its history of previous biting and location of the current injuries.
Owners of an animal determined to be dangerous could also be prohibited from having an animal for up to three years if the owner had previously owned a dangerous animal, possessed more than one dangerous animal or if the ownership or possession would create a significant threat to others.
Supervisor Randy Griffin, who is the supervisors’ representative on the BOH, said he was “OK with (the proposal).”
Although it is not known when the supervisors will consider adopting the measure, Smith indicated it may need to be done quickly.
“I can’t believe how many animal bites we’ve had since COVID-19,” she said.
Meanwhile, a recent outbreak of the viral disease in Wapello is keeping her staff busy, although some duties, such as home aide activities, have considerably slowed.
Smith said Louisa County had experienced 315 cases of the disease; and in a response to a question from BOH member Joellen Schantz, said she was unsure about the current trend.
“If you listen to the governor, she still saying the numbers are coming down, (but) I don’t have any idea,” Smith said, adding she was concerned that the virus still was not well understood.
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