The Dog Warden is appointed each year by the Selectboard for a 1-year term to administer and enforce Waitsfield's Dog Ordinance. The Dog Warden responds to citizen complaints; handles animals in a humane and responsible manner; and deals tactfully but firmly with animal owners. Independent judgment is expected, guided by the Selectboard's instructions and applicable state statutes.
The Dog Warden has the following specific duties:
- Respond to complaints about dogs in violation of the ordinance within the town of Waitsfield.
- Apprehend and transport domestic animals in a safe and humane manner to the designated pound.
- Investigate animal bites and report them to the proper authority.
- Maintain records and prepare reports of reported incidences.
- Submit payroll request to the Town Treasurer at least quarterly, including summary of calls and the disposition of the incidents.
- Develop and implement procedures where necessary with Selectboard oversight.
Roaming unattended dogs should be reported to the Dog Warden. If the dog is seized and the owner cannot be located, the dog will be taken to the town pound where it will be kept for a certain number of days. If, at the end of this period, the dog has not been claimed, the pound keeper will make an effort to re-home it. Dogs found to be regularly straying will automatically be taken to the pound and the owner, if known, will be informed. Before the dog can be retrieved from the town pound, all fees and fines must be paid to the Town and to the pound keeper.
Lost dogs should be reported to the Dog Warden with the following information:
- Owner's name, address and Tel No:
- Description of your dog
- Date and time lost
- Location when lost
The kennel at the Valley Animal Hospital serves as the town pound, and Roy Hadden, DVM, is its pound keeper.
Location: 6969 Main Street, Route 100. Phone: (802) 496-3006.
Fines and Fees
Section 9 of the Waitsfield Dog Ordinance (Redemption of Impounded Dogs; Fees) provides for the following fines to be paid to the Town:
(a) The owner of any dog so impounded may reclaim such dog upon payment of all costs and charges incurred by the Town for impounding and maintaining the dog, as well as payment to Town Clerk of the license fee if the dog is unlicensed.
(b) The following fees shall be paid to the Town Clerk or poundkeeper for impounding any dog in any consecutive six-month period:
(1) First offense - $15
(2) Second offense - $25
(3) Third or subsequent offense - $35
The Selectboard may amend this fee schedule.
(c) In addition, the greater of an additional charge of five dollars ($5.00) for board for each day or fraction thereof during which the dog is impounded, or the actual cost of boarding the dog, shall be paid to the poundkeeper.
In 2001, the Selectboard amended the the fees paid to the poundkeeper as follows, which must be paid at the time to animal is retrieved:
During regular business hours at the Valley Animal Hospital
- $25.00 for the day or part thereof,
- $15.00 for each additional day.
After 6:00 p.m. and on weekends:
- $50.00 additional after hours charge to the Dog Warden for pickup.
All fines and fees must be paid to the Town and the pound keeper before the dog may be retrieved.
Excerpts from Secretary of State's Opinions
The following are excerpts from the Secretary of State's monthly publication Opinions, which summarizes interpretations of how various state statutes are applied.
Volume 1 Number 6 July 1999
18. Selectboard May Respond To Dog Bites. If a dog has bitten a person while the dog is off the premises of the owner or keeper, and that person requires medical attention as a result of the attack, he or she may file a written complaint with the selectboard. The complaint must contain the name and address of the complaining victim(s); the time, date, and place where the attack occurred; and other facts to assist the selectboard in their investigation. Within seven days, the selectboard must investigate and hold a hearing, giving notice to the owner in writing. If the selectboard finds that the dog has bitten the victim without provocation, they may order that the dog be disposed of in a humane way, muzzled, chained, or confined. The order is then sent to the owner by certified mail. If the selectboard or a municipal official designated by the selectboard finds that the dog is a rabies suspect, the rules of the department of health shall apply. 20 V.S.A. § 3546. If the offending dog is a wolf-hybrid and a rabies suspect, the selectmen or municipal officer designated by the selectboard shall order the animal to be immediately destroyed because there is no approved pre-exposure rabies vaccine for wolf-hybrids. 20 V.S.A. § 3807(c).
Volume 3 Number 8 August 2001
16. A Person Can Shoot Dog Who Is Attacking Animals Only If Last Resort. A Dog or wolf hybrid that is outside an enclosure or that is not restrained but who attacks a person, domestic animal or fowl may be killed so long as it is reasonably necessary to discontinue the attack. This means that a person who sees a dog kill his sheep may not later kill the dog. Rather, the law permits him to make a complaint to the selectboard who can have the animal killed if necessary, and seek damages from the dog owner. 20 V.S.A. § 3545, 3745, 3748. There is an old statute that also permits the selectboard to offer a $5.00 bounty on dogs that are caught killing or "worrying" sheep. 20 V.S.A. § 3749.
17. Animal Control Officer Can Get Warrant To Seize Dog. Vermont law permits a local official to obtain a warrant to search and seize a domestic pet or wolf-hybrid under the town’s authority to do so. (For example, vicious dogs, dog ordinance violations, damage to sheep or other domestic animals, etc. . . ) The warrant will only be issued if the officer has first attempted to search for or take the animal with permission of the owner, and has been turned away. The animal control officer, constable or other authorized local official must apply to a judicial officer for a warrant to search the properties of the owner of the animal or any other property if the officer has reasonable cause to believe that the animal may be on it. If the judicial officer is satisfied that there is a reasonable cause to believe that the animal is on a property, the judicial officer will issue a search warrant authorizing a law enforcement officer of the state of Vermont to search the property and premises for the animal within a specified period of time. 20 V.S.A. § 3551.