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Insight from West Fargo PD: Citizen responsibility to watch pets

The West Fargo City Commission has enacted several ordinances to regulate the keeping and care of pets with the intent to identify owners of lost pets, control destructive animal behavior and prevent spread of disease. Information can be found on the West Fargo Police Department Web site at: Look for the hyperlink 'Laws.'

All dogs and cats over twelve weeks of age kept or maintained in the city shall be licensed and registered. Licenses are available at the West Fargo Police Department. Costs for the annual license are six dollars for an animal that has been spade or neutered; ten dollars for an animal which has not been spade or neutered. The cost increases to one hundred dollars per animal for four or more of one species. Proof of current immunization is required. Failure to license your pet may result in a fine of one hundred dollars.

Animal kennels and shelters are prohibited in residentially zoned areas. A kennel is defined as a facility engaged in the business of breeding, buying, selling or boarding of animals. A shelter is a facility used to confine, keep or house at any one time more than one animal seized, lost, abandoned, or given over by the owner. Kennels and shelters must be maintained to prevent offensive odor and noise.

To control the transmission of rabies all dogs and cats are required to be immunized. An animal suspected of having rabies or which has bitten a person must be quarantined for ten days. If there is no proof of the animal having received the rabies vaccine, the animal may be seized by the police department and held at a licensed facility at the owner's expense. Animals showing signs of rabies may be destroyed immediately.

No person shall keep, feed or maintain fowl or other non-domestic animals of any kind within the city, except horses, swine or cattle temporarily held for shipment or as otherwise permitted by the applicable zoning ordinances of the city. Stables must be maintained to prevent offensive odor or conditions and constructed to prevent runoff onto adjoining property.

Collection of animal waste on public property is required. Every person having custody or control of an animal shall be equipped to and must collect animal waste deposited by their animal upon property owned by the City of West Fargo, the West Fargo Park District or the West Fargo School District. Collected material must be properly disposed of in an acceptable container.

No person who is the owner or keeper of any animal shall allow the animal to run at large. At large means off the premises of the owner and not under control by either the use of a leash, cord or chain. The police department shall impound any animal found to be running at large. The animal will be held until all fees associated with the impound are paid. Animals unclaimed after three days may be disposed of.

Any animal defined as dangerous or vicious must be kept under control at all times by the owner. No person shall keep or permit any dangerous or vicious animal within the city unless the animal is secured by a chain on the person's premises, or muzzled to prevent it from biting. If a dangerous or vicious animal continues to run at large, an officer may petition the court to seize the animal. At a hearing the court may order the animal removed from the city or destroyed. Any dangerous or vicious animal found running at large may be destroyed without attempting to impound it.

Habitually barking, crying or howling animals are declared a public nuisance and are prohibited within the city. Habitually barking, crying or howling is defined as barking, howling or crying for repeated intervals of at least three minutes with less than one minute of interruption and must be audible off the owner's premises. The owner, upon notification, must abate the barking, crying or howling within forty-eight hours and cause the condition to remain abated for a period of two months. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in the issuance of a summons.

No poisonous animal, reptile, amphibian, fish, insect or any other animal that poses a threat to public health and safety may be kept or possessed in the city. Such animals are subject to immediate impound and may be disposed of in the manner determined to be in the best interest of public health and safety.