NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — New Bern is changing some of its dog ordinances to put more responsibility on the dog owners.

New Bern Police Chief Patrick Gallagher says dog owners will now be held more accountable if their dog attacks another dog or person. There are also certain guidelines dog owners must follow if they have a dog living outside the home.

“Anytime we can prevent the dog from escaping and having access to people and other domesticated dogs, the safer we’ll be,” Chief Gallagher said.

Gallagher says after a vicious dog attack in 2022, he felt some of the language in the ordinance needed to be adjusted.

Those adjustments include if a dog attacks another dog or person, the dog owner must have their dog declared one of the three categories.

“Potentially dangerous dangerous or vicious,” Gallagher said. “If it’s one of those three criteria, the added responsibility is the dog owner should contact the New Bern Police Department if their dog escapes.”

A ‘potentially dangerous dog’ is one that has attacked another domesticated animal. A ‘dangerous dog’ is one that has attacked a person. A ‘vicious dog’ is defined as a dog that has critically injured a person.

Dog owners must also follow proper fencing requirements.

“In order for a dog to remain outside unsupervised, the responsibility of the dog owner would be to erect a six-foot fence with a concrete floor,” Gallagher said. “That prevents the dog from being able to burrow underneath.”

Gallagher said if a dog owner does not follow the proper guidelines, they will be fined. There are also provisions in the ordinance for the dog to be removed from any of the three categories after three years, but only if the dog owner meets the requirements in the ordinance.

If the dog owner doesn’t comply, then the dog’s danger status will not change.

Click here to read more from the City of New Bern. Click here to see the city’s animal control ordinance changes.