Insurance, sterilization and microchips are just a few of the new requirements for potentially dangerous dogs in Lodi.
The Lodi City Council unanimously approved updates to the section of its Municipal Code regarding animals — specifically vicious or potentially dangerous dogs — at its Wednesday night meeting.
According to Wednesday’s staff report, the section of the municipal code has not been updated since 1995, and the changes approved reflect “evolving challenges” faced by the public and Lodi’s Animal Services division over the last 19 years.
The changes will increase accountability for animal owners in the city, as well as provide police and animal control officers the tools needed to protect the community from vicious animals.
Vice Mayor Larry Hansen noted Wednesday’s approval merely cleans up an outdated municipal code. Approving the stricter regulations does not mean Lodi has a vicious animal problem, he said.
“When (an attack or incident) happens, it’s very disturbing, and it is a problem,” he said. “But this is just to clean up language.”
One of the most far-reaching updates adopted Wednesday night requires owners to purchase liability insurance of at least $100,000 if their dog is determined to be vicious or potentially dangerous, or attacks another animal or a human being. The insurance would cover any future damages the animal may cause. Owners will be required to provide proof of purchase to Animal Services.
The cities of Elk Grove, Stockton and Sacramento have similar requirements in place, Animal Services Officer Jennifer Bender said.
City of Lodi staff said at a June 17 shirtsleeve meeting that if a dog bites a human once or bites other animals twice, it will be considered vicious or potentially dangerous. If the dog kills another animal, the city will have the dog euthanized.
If an animal is involved in a reported incident, its owner will have 30 days to meet a number of requirements to make sure the animal doesn’t become a threat again.
Cat owners will be required to have their pets vaccinated against rabies. Bender said this is strongly recommended by California Rabies Control due to cats’ greater risk of exposure to exposed animals such as bats, skunks and raccoons.
Bender said there has only been one reported incident in Lodi of a cat exposed to rabies in recent years.
If the city finds an owner in violation of the updated ordinance, civil penalties equal to misdemeanors would be applied, Bender said.
While most of the changes are focused on reducing incidents involving vicious animals, Bender said, the city has only received one report of a vicious dog so far this year.
There were three reports in 2013, and in all three cases, the offending dogs were euthanized, Bender said.
There were six cases in 2012, with four of those dogs euthanized and two on probation, as well as one vicious dog case in 2011, she said. None were reported in 2010.