LAWTON, Okla._The Lawton City Council updated a city ordinance that requires owners of dangerous pets to hold a liability insurance policy on the pet in the event of an attack or even death.
This comes shortly after a Lawton boy was killed after a dog attacked him. Although a dog is the most thought of animal when it comes to animal attacks, the ordinance is for any dangerous or potentially dangerous animal.
A dangerous animal is one that has attacked someone or something in the past, being declared potentially dangerous is a bit trickier. It takes into account the nature of the animal, the immediate area and even needs to be checked by Lawton Animal Welfare. If it all checks out, the homeowner needs liability insurance.
If there is a dangerous animal in a house with no liability insurance, officials say the animal won't be there for long.
"The City [of Lawton] has the authority to impound your dog. The city has the authority to issue a fine, and they have the authority to also give someone some jail time," Councilman Dwight Tanner explained.
Tanner says the city can even order the owner of a potentially dangerous pet to take preventative measures if the animal lives where children play. Those measures include putting up enhanced fence work so the animal can't escape, at the expense of the owner.
"There are certain precautions that have to be met in a situation like that. You have to make sure the animals are properly contained and not going to get out," Tanner said.
Tanner also says not all attacks will be deemed vicious.
"If someone gets in your yard, in your house, and provokes the animal, then those are different circumstances," Tanner explained.
Based on varying insurance plans, it's hard to determine exactly how much more this will cost Lawton citizens. Tanner says it's important to have the insurance in the event that someone is seriously injured or killed.