Editor's note: This is the first in a series of reports about Clay County's dog tax -- who owes it, where to pay it, how much to pay and where the money goes.
Do you know the laws concerning responsible ownership of a dog in the state of Indiana?
Indiana Code 15-5-12-2 defines the owner of a dog as a person who possesses, keeps or harbors a dog.
Indiana Code 15-5-9-13 states that it is Class C infraction to harbor any dog that is more than six months old without a collar and the metal license tag, which owners receive when they pay their dog taxes. This law also states that it is a Class C infraction for an owner to allow their dog to stray from their property limits, unless under the reasonable control of some person or when engaged in lawful hunting accompanied by the owner or custodian.
Indiana Code 15-5-9-14 states that dogs which have not been declared and had taxes paid upon the animal shall be considered a public nuisance and that it is the duty of all law enforcement personnel to capture and impound such animals.
Indiana Code 35-46-3-1 states that a person who knowingly or intentionally harbors a dog over the age of six months without vaccinating the animal against rabies commits a Class C infraction. It becomes a Class B misdemeanor if the dog causes bodily injury by biting a person.
Indiana Code 15-5-12-1 states that if an owner of a dog that, without provocation, bites any person who is peaceably conducting themselves may be held liable for any damages suffered by the victim, regardless of former knowledge of the viciousness of the dog.
Indiana Code 15-5-12-3 states that an owner of a dog commits a Class C misdemeanor if the owner recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally fails to take reasonable steps to restrain their dog and the animal enters the property of another person, or if the dog bites another person resulting in bodily injury or death. These charges become a Class B misdemeanor if the owner has been convicted of one previous unrelated violation. It becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the owner has been convicted of more than one previous unrelated violations.
Most officials agree that understanding the laws concerning dog ownership is easy for people when they are made aware of them. But they are also aware that many problems arise when responsible pet owners get caught in the confusion of implementing these very same laws.
Tomorrow -- What happens to stray dogs?