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Problematic & Vicious Dogs


Any dog may be designated a "Problematic Dog" if it can reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to public safety for demonstrating any of the following behaviors:

  • Causing a minor injury to a person or domestic animal
  • Chasing vehicles or threatening/attacking people or other domestic animals without provocation
  • Running at large two times within a 12-month period


Any dog may be designated a "Vicious Dog" if it has been found to pose an unacceptable risk to public safety for demonstrating any of the following behaviors:

  • Causing on any single occasion the death of or serious injury to a person 
  • Killing a domestic animal or causing serious injury that requires euthanizing the animal
  • Posing a threat to public safety on two or more occasions after having been previously designated a "Problematic Dog"
  • Engaging in or having been trained to engage in fighting exhibitions 

Following an investigation of the offense(s), the police chief determines whether the dog will be designated problematic or vicious and notifies the owner in writing by certified mail or hand delivery. The dog owner may request a hearing before a review committee by sending written notice to the city clerk within 15 days after the date of notice. 


Owners of Problematic and Vicious Dogs face additional registration and handling requirements:

  • Dog must be registered with the City of Newton (required of all dog/cat owners in city)
  • Current rabies vaccination (required of all dog/cat owners in city)
  • Dog spayed or neutered
  • Proof of homeowner's liability insurance in the amount of $50,000 or more
  • Proper enclosure as described in City of Newton Code of Ordinances 13.0330
  • Implanted with microchip containing owner identification and designation of vicious animal
  • Dog photographed for identification purposes

Additional requirements for the owner of a Vicious Dog include:

  • Maintain vicious dogs exclusively on owner's property except for medical treatment or exam
  • Post signage on the property visible from roadway or 50 feet (whichever is less) indicating the presence of vicious dog