American pit bulls, Siberian huskies, Rottweilers, German shepherds and even the most active of man’s best friends, the Jack Russell terrier, have all made Pennsylvania’s Dangerous Dog Registry.
They are among the more than two dozen dogs locally that have been listed on the state’s registry, easily making Monroe County among those areas with the most dangerous dogs, according to the state Department of Agriculture, which maintains and helps enforce the list.
“It’s important to note that it’s not the type of dog, but it’s what the dogs do that classifies it as a dangerous dog,” said Kristen Donmoyer, director of the state’s Dog Law Enforcement Bureau.
The animal is considered dangerous after it bites or harms someone or another animal in an unprovoked attack, Donmoyer said.
But there’s more to it than just an unprovoked bite, said Samantha Krepps, of the state Department of Agriculture. “After a complaint is filed, a magistrate has to deem the dog dangerous, something that the dog law enforcement office does not do,” Krepps said.
She said several factors go into the decision, including a judge considering whether the dog was provoked, or if the dog was defending itself, its owner or its property, she said.
State officials said that among the reasons for the registry, where penalties have proven to possess teeth, was that Pennsylvania was once home to more than 300 commercial kennels. Now just 59 remain, including one in Monroe County.
The state registry requires a dog’s owners to adhere to a strict list of rules, ranging from keeping their dog muzzled and leashed outside the home to paying a $500 annual fee and obtaining additional insurance of at least $50,000.
While Monroe County Dog Warden George Nixon could not be reached for comment, Krepps said that if a dog is labeled dangerous, the dog’s owner has a choice to either euthanize the dog, or keep it and pay the $500 annual fee.
The owner also must obtain a surety bond in the amount of at least $50,000 and must carry a homeowner’s insurance policy for $50,000 against any future damages caused by the dog.
“The dog also has to be microchipped and spayed or neutered, and it’s also important to note that the dog remains on the registry for life,” Krepps said.
Donmoyer said there’s only one way to have the animal removed from the registry. “If it dies,” she said.