City folk can now walk dogs county-style

The Vancouver City Council on Monday updated the city animal code to match the county code, which makes sense since the city contracts with Clark County Animal Control to deal with dangerous dogs and dead cats.

Since the move made sense, it only took the council about 18 months to reach the point where it could adopt the code. Progress!

Seriously, it was the first thorough review of the city’s animal code since the 1980s.

So what changed? The biggest difference is the city’s way of handling dangerous dogs now mirrors the county’s approach – which is to regulate, but not necessarily ban, the dogs, and there’s new language regarding appeals.

City Manager Eric Holmes, in a report to Mayor Tim Leavitt and the Vancouver City Council, wrote that the new code addresses dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs in a balanced manner. While it might not “fully satisfy the policy desires of all in the community,” this balance has worked in the county for 20 years and the city can always change it later.

Here are  two of my favorite parts of the new ordinance:

The definition of a “leash” has been changed from meaning “cord, string or chain,” to “cord, rope or chain.” String? Any animal that can be “physically controlled” by string is probably stuffed.  A rope is so county, and at least more practical than a string. The leash still needs to be no longer than 9 feet.

We now have a definition of “pack of dogs” — you need at least three to make a pack, and they have to be “running upon lands, either public or private, not that of their owner, when such dogs are not restrained or under control.” Two dogs running onto your property is just annoying/frightening, but a pack they do not make.

With Easter coming up, I’ll throw in this line from the city’s animal code. This one isn’t not new, but it’s worth repeating: It’s unlawful to “sell or offer for sale or to give away any living baby rabbits, chicks, ducklings or other fowl which have been dyed, colored or otherwise treated so as to have an artificial color.”

The city’s animal code also prohibits “any domesticated animal snapping, growling, snarling or jumping at or upon or otherwise threaten persons lawfully using public sidewalks, streets, alleys or other public ways.”

Sadly, that last law does not apply to mammals who testify at public hearings.

One key area of the law that was not changed? The number of dogs allowed at a residence (not counting kennels and doggy day cares.) Those numbers remain the same: no more than three dogs in city limits, no more than five dogs in the urban growth areas (think Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek) and no more than nine dogs in the county.

As always, there’s no limit on cats. (Shudder.)








Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

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