Ask Jessie

Dogs may be known as man’s best friend, but they are also known to bite on occasion.

When a dog bites, it isn’t just a painful experience for the person being bit, it also starts a lengthy process to ensure public health.

Sergeant Lisa Sage said the Emporia Police Department took 92 reports of animal bites within the city limits in 2018. Each and every animal bite should be reported to the police.

“The bite is documented and the circumstances investigated, by either our animal control officer or a police officer,” Sage said.

The city ordinance regarding animal bites and quarantines clearly states whenever a dog or cat has bitten a person, the person should immediately notify a police officer or animal control officer. All incidents should be reported to the health officer, who should order the animal quarantined and impounded for a period of no less than 10 days either at the animal shelter or an animal hospital. This is done to ensure no evidence of rabies is present in the animal. After 10 days, if no concern of rabies is present, the animal is released.

“It is important for the public to know, failure to quarantine is a felony offense in the State of Kansas and these laws are in place for the purpose of public health,” Sage said.

Dogs bite for a number of reasons, not necessarily because they are vicious. Dogs may bite when a stranger enters their yard, they could bite if a human is trying to break up a fight between two dogs or they may bite out of fear. Quarantine of animals is not done as a punishment — it is a public health requirement.

If investigation reveals an animal is, in fact, vicious, law enforcement can issue a criminal charge such as vicious animal or nuisance animal. The city does have a statute which defines vicious animals in the following way:

“Vicious Animal Defined: ‘Vicious animal’ shall mean any animal which has previously attacked or bitten any person or which has behaved in such a manner that the person who harbors that animal knows or should reasonably know that the animal possesses tendencies to attack or bite persons, or any animal which is off its owner’s property and has attacked and seriously injured or killed a domestic animal without provocation.”

An animal nuisance is created when an animal:

(1) Runs uncontrolled;

(2) Molests or disturbs persons or vehicles by chasing, barking, growling, charging or biting;

(3) Attacks other animals;

(4) Damages property other than that of the owner or harborer;

(5) Barks, whines, howls, brays, cries or makes other noise excessively so as to cause unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to an individual who is a neighbor (a “neighbor” for this purpose is hereby defined as an individual residing in a residence structure which is within 500 feet of the property on which the animal is kept or harbored) and who does, in writing, state he will so testify if called upon to testify about such matter under oath;

(6) Creates noxious or offensive odors;

(7) Defecates upon any public place or upon premises not owned or controlled by the owner or harborer unless promptly removed by the animal owner or harborer;

(8) Creates an insect breeding and/or attraction site due to an accumulation of excreta;

(9) Is in heat and not properly confined;

(10) Threatens or causes a condition which endangers public health; or

(11) Impedes refuse collection by ripping any bag or tipping any container of such.

Sage said people have a right to self-defense against animals in the same way they do against other human beings. If a person attempts to defend themselves from an animal attack by using either pepper spray or a weapon of some kind, the circumstances will be investigated at the same time the bite report is being investigated.

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