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Animal Quarantine Laws Are Tightened



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Animal Quarantine Laws Are Tightened

By Andrew Gorosko

A revised state law which takes effect October 1 significantly increases the fines and penalties for dog and cat owners who fail to meet the conditions of animal quarantines after their dogs or cats have bitten a person or another animal.

Acting Police Chief Michael Kehoe said September 18 the new law increases from $25 to $250 the fine for quarantine violations and also allows violators to be imprisoned for up to 30 days, or both.

The new state law, known as Public Act 00-88, elevates dog and cat quarantine violations from infractions of the law to misdemeanor summonses, requiring that those changed with quarantine violations appear in court to face a judge, Acting Chief Kehoe said. The law applies to dogs, cats, and other animals kept as pets.

The revised law is intended to help animal control officers deal with people who refuse to quarantine their dogs and fail to quarantine their dog properly, according to Thomas D. Simon, supervisor of the animal control division of the state Department of Agriculture.

Also, the fines under the general penalties section of the animal control laws have been increased from $50 to $250, or up to 30 days of imprisonment, or both.

 Town animal control officer George Mattegat said there are approximately 50 local cases a year in which animals are quarantined after they have bitten a person or another animal.

The increased fines and penalties for violations of the quarantine law are significant changes, and the public should be aware of them, Acting Chief Kehoe said.

The quarantine regulations are intended to isolate offending animals after they have bitten a person or another animal, until it can be determined if the offending animal has rabies, Mr Mattegat said.

 Mr Mattegat said an animal may be quarantined at the owner’s property or may be kept at a municipal pound, kennel, or veterinarian’s office until tests indicate whether the animal has rabies.

Under the terms of the state law, if a pet owner fails to comply with an animal control officer’s quarantine order for the offending pet, the animal control officer can seize the pet to insure quarantine compliance, with the pet owner held responsible for quarantine costs.

In a September 12 letter to all state and municipal animal control officers, Mr Simon wrote of the increased fines, “This fine increase will help you with those people who refuse to quarantine their animal, fail to quarantine their animal properly, [and for] violation of restraint or disposal orders, or any other order issued by you” under applicable laws. 

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