Stanwood City Council moves to define ‘dangerous dog’

STANWOOD — City leaders are considering new animal control regulations that would define what makes a dog dangerous or potentially dangerous.

The proposed ordinance also lays out an appeal process for owners of such dogs, updates exotic animal restrictions and removes limitations on cat ownership.

The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to move forward with adopting the new rules. A final vote is scheduled for April 9.

City officials and police say they haven’t heard from the public about the changes, though dangerous dog rules have been known to spark heated debate in communities around the country. Usually, breed restrictions cause the most concern, and Stanwood’s proposal doesn’t fall into that category, City Administrator Deborah Knight said.

The ordinance defines a dangerous dog as one that severely injures a human without provocation; kills a domestic animal without provocation while off the dog owner’s property; or was classified as potentially dangerous and attacks or endangers someone.

A potentially dangerous dog is one that has bitten a human or domestic animal, or has chased or tried to attack someone on public property, like a park or sidewalk.

“It’s not based on breed,” Stanwood Police Chief Rick Hawkins said. “It’s based on actions of the dogs.”

If a dog attacks or injures someone who is trespassing on the owner’s property, or someone who is or has in the past abused the dog, the animal would not be labeled as dangerous, according to the ordinance.

Under the new rules, people also could appeal a dangerous dog designation by submitting a written claim to the police chief within five days of being notified that their pet is listed as dangerous or potentially dangerous. The appeal would go to the Stanwood hearing examiner for consideration.

Owners of dangerous dogs are required to pay higher licensing fees, get their pet chipped, muzzle the dog in public and have a secure kennel at home. It can be costly, Hawkins said.

The new rules also would require a dog to be quarantined after biting someone unless the owner has proof of a current rabies vaccination.

Police occasionally respond to reports of aggressive or biting dogs, but it hasn’t been a big problem for the city, Hawkins said. No specific event inspired the review of animal control regulations. The city’s rules were simply outdated.

“We’ve had dog bites, but nothing that would reach the level of a dangerous dog,” he said. “But the reality is that could happen and we weren’t prepared.”

When city staff went through the dangerous dog section, they realized the city’s animal control regulations needed to be overhauled, Knight said.

The new ordinance would formally adopt state law prohibiting people from owning, breeding, buying or selling exotic or wild and dangerous animals. The state’s list includes wolves, bears, venomous snakes, rhinoceroses, elephants and large cats like lions and tigers.

Also, the city’s rules previously capped the number of dogs a person could own without a kennel license at four and the number of cats at four. The new ordinance would keep the dog limitation but remove the limit on cats. However, people should still be responsible pet owners and cannot have so many cats that they become a nuisance or start getting hurt or neglected, Hawkins said.

The Stanwood City Council also is scheduled to review animal licensing fees during the April 9 meeting, Knight said.

A new fee chart proposed by city staff would double the cost to license a dog — currently $25 per dog, discounted to $5 if the animal is spayed or neutered — and increase commercial kennel fees from $25 to $175. City Council members also might eliminate the lifetime fee, meaning that people would need to renew their dog’s license every year. People who already have a lifetime license would not be affected.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Separate road rage incident ends with fatal shooting in Lake Stevens

A man, 41, died at the scene in the 15300 block of 84th Street NE. No arrests have been made.

Nursing Administration Supervisor Susan Williams points at a list of current COVID patients at Providence Regional Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of Providence patients in medical limbo for months, even years

About 100 people are stuck in Everett hospital beds without an urgent medical reason. New laws aim for a solution.

Lynnwood man arrested, released on $25K bond after road rage shooting

Deputies arrested the suspect, 20, for investigation of first-degree assault on Tuesday.

Mt. Baker visible from the summit of Mt. Dickerman on a late summer day in 2017. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Hornets pester hikers on popular Mountain Loop trails

“You cannot out run the stings,” one hiker wrote in a trip report. The Forest Service has posted alerts at two trailheads.

Most Read