Local law enforcement now has the backing of a state statute when it comes to complaints of dog owners and loose dogs.
Starke County Attorney Marty Lucas told the county commissioners Monday night that Indiana code (IC 15-20-1-4) allows officers to cite animal owners who “recklessly, knowingly or intentionally fail to take reasonable steps to restrain the dog” when the dog enters a property other than the property of the dog’s owner. The penalties get stiffer if the dog bites another person without provocation resulting in bodily injury or death.
The section pertaining to this law does not apply to a non-aggressive dog that goes beyond the owner’s premises onto agricultural or forested land or is engaged in lawful hunting and accompanied by the owner.
A Class D infraction ticket, or first offense, is a fine of $25 while a Class C infraction, or second offense, is a fine of $500. The fines get higher if the owner continues to violate the law (IC 34-28-5-4).
Lucas said he spoke with Starke County Prosecutor Nicholas Bourff who agreed that officers can write these tickets in all jurisdictions in the county and violators will be prosecuted.