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Chapter 60 – Dangerous & Vicious Animals





4-60-1              Purpose
4-60-2              Definitions
4-60-3              Keeping of Dangerous Animals Prohibited
4-60-4              Keeping of Vicious Animals Restricted
4-60-5             Seizure, Impoundment, and Disposition of Dangerous or Vicious Animals
4-60-6             Removal of Dangerous or Vicious Animals
4-60-7             Notice of Removal of Dangerous or Vicious Animals
4-60-8            Method of Service
4-60-9            Request for Hearing
4-60-10          Abatement by the City
4-60-11          Collection of Costs
4-60-12          Failure to Abate
4-60-13          Penalties for Failure to Abate 

SECTION 4-60-1                  PURPOSE.  The purpose of this ordinance is to provide for the public safety by prohibiting the keeping of dangerous animals and imposing restriction on the keeping of vicious animals.

SECTION 4-60-2                  DEFINITIONS.  For the purpose of this ordinance, the following words and phrases when used in this ordinance shall have the following meaning:

1.)   Dangerous Animal:  Means (1) any animal which is not naturally tame or gentle, and which is of a wild nature or disposition, and which is capable of killing, inflicting serious injury upon, or causing disease among, human beings or domestic animals and having known tendencies as a species to do so; (2) any animals declared to be dangerous by the County board of health; (3) any animal which has bitten or clawed a person on two or more occasions; (4) the following animals which shall be deemed to be dangerous per se:

            a.)   Lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, cougars, lynx and bobcats;

            b.)   Wolves, coyotes and foxes;

            c.)   Badgers, wolverines, weasels, skunk and mink

            d.)   Raccoons;

            e.)   Bears;

            f.)   Monkey and chimpanzees;

            g.)   Bats;

            h.)   Alligators and crocodiles;

            i.)    Scorpions;

            j.)    Snakes that are venomous or constrictors;

            k.)   Gila monsters;

            l.)     Pit bull terriers.

2.)   Pit Bull Terrier: Means any dog of that breed known variously as American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Pit Bull terrier, or any dog of mixed breed which contains a strain of such breed known variously as American Pit Bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier Pit Bull terrier, which is identifiable as such by a qualified veterinarian duly licensed in the State of Iowa.

3.)   At Large: Means off the premises of the owner, or upon the public streets, alleys, sidewalks, public grounds, school grounds or parks within the City. An animal shall not be deemed to be at large if:

            a.)   The animal is on the premises of the owner or the premises of a person given charge of the animal by the owner and is either:

                        i.)   Accompanied by and obedient to the commands of the owner or the person given such charge, or

                        ii.)  Restrained on those premises by an adequate protective fence or leash, cord, chain or other similar restraint of sufficient strength to restrain the animal and does not allow the animal to go beyond the owner’s real property line or onto the sidewalk.

            b.)   On a public sidewalk or street but restrained by a leash held by a person capable of restraining the animal as set out by paragraph 6 below.

4.)   Vicious Animal:  Means any animal that (1) has bitten or clawed a person or persons on one prior occasion; or (2) could not be controlled or restrained by the owner at the time of the attack to prevent the occurrence; or (3) has attacked any domestic animal or fowl on three separate occasions within a twelve month period.

5.)   Confined:  Shall mean securely confined in a dwelling house or an enclosed locked building, enclosed fence, pen or other structure having a height of at least six feet with locked gates and with secure sides and at all points embedded into the ground, or, if such enclosed fence is less than six feet in height, it must have a secure and complete top securely fastened to the sides.

6.)   Leash or leashed:  Means on a cord or chain or other similar restraint not more than six feet in length and of sufficient strength to restrain the animal and at all times in control of a person competent to restrain or control said animal.

SECTION 4-60-3                  KEEPING OF DANGEROUS ANIMALS PROHIBITED. No person shall keep, shelter or harbor any dangerous animal as a pet, nor act as a temporary custodian for such an animal, nor keep, shelter, or harbor such animal for any other purpose or in any other capacity within the City except that this section shall not apply to the keeping of dangerous animals under the following circumstances:

1.)   The keeping of a dangerous animal for exhibition to the public by a bonafide traveling circus, carnival, exhibit or show;

2.)   The keeping of a dangerous animal in a bonafide licensed veterinary hospital for treatment;

3.)   Any dangerous animals under the jurisdiction of and in the possession of the Iowa Conservation Commission, pursuant to Chapters 109 or 109A of the Iowa Code;

4.)   Those pit bulls owned and harbored within the corporate city limits and licensed as provided by Chapter 42 of the Code as of April 20, 1997, provided that such pit bulls are confined and kenneled at all times in keeping with this ordinance.

SECTION 4-60-4                  KEEPING OF VICIOUS ANIMALS RESTRICTED.   No person shall keep, shelter or harbor for any reason within the City a vicious animal so defined herein, except under the following circumstances:

            1.)   Animals under the control of a law enforcement or military agency; or

            2.)   Guard dogs must be kept within a structure or fixed enclosure at all times, and any guard dog found at large shall be a dangerous animal pursuant to the provisions of this ordinance. Any premises guarded by a guard dog shall be prominently posted with a sign containing the wording “guard dog”, “vicious dog” or words of similar import, and the owner of such premises shall inform the Chief of Police that a guard dog is on duty at the premises; or

             3.)   Unless such animal is confined at all times as defined herein at Section 4-43-2.


 1.)   In the event that a dangerous animal or vicious animal is found at large and unattended upon public property, park property, public right of way, sidewalks, or the property of someone other than its owner, thereby creating a hazard to person or property, such animal may, in the discretion of the Mayor or the Chief of Police, be destroyed if it cannot be confined or captured. The City shall be under no duty to attempt the confinement or capture of a dangerous or vicious animal found at large, nor shall it have a duty to notify the owner of such animal prior to it destruction.

 2.)   Upon the complaint of an individual that a person is keeping, sheltering, or harboring a dangerous animal or vicious animal on premises in the City of Belle Plaine and in a manner contrary to the provisions of this ordinance, the Mayor and Police Chief shall cause the matter to be investigated, and if after investigation, the facts indicate that the person named in the complaint is keeping, sheltering or harboring a dangerous or vicious animal in the City in a manner contrary to provisions of this ordinance, the officer shall order the person named in the complaint to safely remove such animal from the City, by permanently placing the animal with an organization or group allowed (in the above section) to possess dangerous or vicious animals or destroy the animal.

 SECTION 4-60-6                  REMOVAL OF DANGEROUS OR VICIOUS ANIMAL.  Whenever the Mayor or Chief of Police finds that a dangerous or vicious animal is being kept within the City of Belle Plaine contrary to the provisions herein, such officer shall cause to be served upon the owner of the dangerous or vicious animal a written notice to remove the animal from the City of Belle Plaine within three (3) days after notice.

 SECTION 4-60-7                  NOTICE OF REMOVAL OF DANGEROUS OR VICIOUS ANIMAL :  CONTENTS.  The notice to remove shall contain:

1.)   Description of the dangerous or vicious animal

2.)   Location of the dangerous or vicious animal.

3.)   Acts necessary to remove the dangerous or vicious animal.

4.)   Time. A three (3) day period within which to complete the removal.

5.)   Hearing. A two (2) day period within which to request a hearing with the City Council to determine whether to affirm or rescind the order for removal.

 6.)   Assessment of City Costs. A statement that if the removal is not completed as directed and no request for hearing is made in writing within the two (2) day period prescribed, the City will remove the animal and assess the costs against such person.

7.)   Penalty. Statement that a penalty may be incurred if the removal is not completed within three (3) days from the notice.

SECTION 4-60-8                  METHOD OF SERVICE.  The notice must be in writing and personally served upon the person or sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner and/or the person in possession of the animal.

SECTION 4-60-9                  REQUEST FOR HEARING.  Any person ordered to remove a dangerous or vicious animal may request to have a hearing with the Council to determine if the removal order shall be affirmed or rescinded. A request for a hearing must be made in writing and delivered to the Clerk within the time period stated in the notice, or it will be conclusively presumed that the removal order is valid. The hearing will be before the Council at a time and placed fixed by the Council. The decisions of the City Council shall be final.

SECTION 4-60-10                ABATEMENT BY CITY.  If the person notified to remove a dangerous or vicious animal fails to remove the animal as directed, the City may perform the required action to remove the animal and shall keep an accurate account of the expense incurred. The itemized expense account shall be filed with the Clerk who shall pay such expenses on behalf of the City.

SECTION 4-60-11                COLLECTION OF COSTS.  The Clerk shall send a statement of the total expense incurred by certified mail to the owner who has failed to abide by the notice to remove, and if the amount shown by the statement has not been paid within thirty (30) days, the Clerk shall certify the costs to the County Treasurer and such cost shall then be collected with, and in the same manner, as general property taxes.

SECTION 4-60-12                FAILURE TO REMOVE.  Any person causing or maintaining a dangerous or vicious animal whom shall fail or refuse to remove the animal within the time required and specified in the notice to abate is in violation of this Code of Ordinances.

SECTION 4-60-13                PENATIES FOR FAILURE TO REMOVE.  Violation of this ordinance shall be deemed to be a municipal infraction and subject to penalties as prescribed by Iowa Code Chapter 364.22, as amended, with the minimum penalty for the first offense being $250.00, and the minimum penalty for repeat offense being $500.00

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