The Hailey City Council voted Monday to repeal an ordinance that outlines legal procedures related to reports of “dangerous animals,” replacing it with a streamlined state law that would reduce the number of court proceedings required to pursue a dangerous-animal case.

A city memo described the Hailey ordinance as “unduly burdensome” and ineffective in protecting public safety.

City Attorney Christopher Simms said in an interview last month that dangerous-animal situations in Hailey reach the court “about once a year.”

“Under the old ordinance it takes two trials to determine whether a dog is dangerous or not,” Simms told the City Council in July.

Adoption of the new state law removes the “remaining at large” clause from city code and adds numerous exemptions for potentially dangerous or “at-risk” dogs, including provisions protecting a dog owner from a misdemeanor charge if an attack was due to a dog’s protecting its young or protecting property from criminals, or if it had been abused by the plaintiff or was engaged at the time of an attack herding animals on public lands.

The newly adopted law states that the Magistrate Court shall conduct a determination hearing on whether an animal is dangerous within 10 days after the court serves notice to an animal owner in question, with a written conclusion on the case done no more than five days after the hearing.

An appeal by the animal owner can be made within three days of the decision.

The change from city code to state law would result in Blaine County’s paying for court costs in dangerous-animal cases, rather than the city, Simms said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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