Texarkana, Ark. updates ordinances dealing with dangerous animals

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In Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the city of Texarkana, Arkansas Board of Directors adopted an ordinance amending, updating and revising portions of Chapter 5 Code of Ordinances of the City of Texarkana, Arkansas, in order to execute and impose a ban of certain species as well as put in place a firm control of dangerous animals in the area.

The Board, as well as attendees at the meeting heard from Charles Lokey, Director of Animal Care and Adoption Center, who expressed serious concerns about the lack of an ordinance prohibiting citizens of Texarkana, Arkansas from keeping vicious and dangerous animals, which impose a threat not only to humans but other domestic animals as well.

Lokey said “there is no ordinance in the City of Texarkana, Arkansas with guidelines that protects the public.” He went on to explain “rarely does a day go by that we don’t have to respond to a vicious animal.”

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The ordinance covers canines, wild animals and reptiles. Lokey added, “up to this point if someone wanted to keep a bear or a cobra, there was nothing in the city of Texarkana, Arkansas telling them they couldn’t do that.”

Prohibited animals include the following:

1. Carnivora shall include, but not be limited to, the following families, with representative of those families as indicated:

  • Ursidae: Bears.
  • Canidae: Wolves, coyotes, foxes or the hybrid offspring of such canidae (including, but not limited to, domestic dog – canidae crosses).
  • Hyaenidae: Hyenas.
  • Filidae: Lions, tigers, leopards, American lions (commonly known as pumas, cougars and panthers), cheetahs, bobcats, ocelots, jaguars, African panthers, lynx, margays.
  • Procyonidae: Raccoons and relatives.
  • Mustelidae: Weasels, skunks and relatives.
  • Viverridae: Binturongs, civets and relatives.

2. Non-human primates shall include, but not be limited to, the following families, with representative of those families as indicated:

  • Monkeys: Spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, marmosets, baboons and relatives.
  • Great apes: Gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, siamangs, chimpanzees and relatives.

3. Venomous reptiles shall include, but not be limited to, the following families, with representative of those families as indicated:

  • Colubridae: (two genera only), Dispholidus (boomslang) and Thelotornis (twin snakes).
  • Elapidae: Cobras, kraits, coral snakes and relatives.
  • Hydorphilidae: Sea snakes.
  • Viperidae: Vipers, adders.
  • Crotalidae: Pit vipers (commonly known as rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads).
  • Helodermatidae: Gila monsters.

The amendments to the ordinance also included new regulations for keeping vicious or dangerous dogs.

The new laws include keeping vicious or dangerous dogs on a leash outside its kennel and they must be muzzled by a device sufficient to prevent the dog from biting people or other animals.

All dogs designated vicious or dangerous must also be securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed kennel, except when leashed and muzzled.

Included in the guidelines are also; Signs. All owners of vicious or dangerous dogs must display a sign on their premises. The sign must be easily readable by the public, using the words “Beware of dog.” In addition, a similar sign should be posted on the kennel or pen.

In addition to secure pins and signs, all owners are also responsible for having insurance on the animal. Keepers must be able to provide proof to the animal control department of public liability insurance in a single incident amount of Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) for bodily injury or death of any person or persons for damage to property owned by any persons which may result from the keeping or maintenance of the dog.

Owners who fail to comply with the guidelines will be subject to immediate seizure and impoundment of the animal. In addition, failure to comply will result in the revocation of the license of the animal, resulting in the immediate removal of the animal from the City.

Among the changes made by the Board of Directors Section 5-17 was also renamed to “Neglect of Animal,” and includes the following guidelines:

(b)  No person shall expose any known poisonous substance, whether mixed with food or not, so that the same shall be liable to be eaten by any animal, provided that it shall not be unlawful for a person to expose on his own property common rat poison mixed only with vegetable substances.

(c) No person shall beat, cruelly ill-treat, torment, overload, overwork or otherwise abuse an animal, or cause, instigate or permit any dogfight, cockfight, bullfight or other combat between animals and/or humans.

(d) No owner, keeper or harborer of an animal shall abandon such animal.

(e) No person shall confine any animal in a parked vehicle if the outside air temperature is higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, unless the vehicle is running and the air-conditioner is working properly. Animal control officers or other law enforcement officers shall not be liable for any damage resulting to the vehicle when such confined animals must be removed for their safety and well-being.

(f) In addition to any other requirements herein relating to confinement of dogs in pens or other enclosures, there shall be at least one hundred (100) square feet in either pen or yard for each dog over six (6) months of age kept therein.

(g) It shall be unlawful to allow animals on premises where animals are kept to become infested with ticks, fleas or other vermin, by failing to diligently and systematically apply accepted methods of insect and parasite control.

(h)  No muzzle shall be made from any material or maintained on a dog in any manner so as to cut or injure the dog.

The amendment and revisions of portions of Chapter 5’s Code of Ordinances passed with a unanimous vote and will match the laws on the Texas-side of Texarkana.

“This will bring us in line with (the laws of) our sister city,” explained Ward 4 Director Travis Odom.

View the full text of the ordinance.

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