Carbondale still tweaking new dog law
December 13, 2007
CARBONDALE ” A new ordinance aimed at addressing aggressive animals in Carbondale needs tweaking, the Town Council agreed Tuesday after reviewing a draft of the law.
A revised version will come back to town trustees on Jan. 8 with further clarification of the penalty for neglecting a dog and a refined definition of “vicious.”
“There are a lot of dogs that bite, but you couldn’t call them vicious dogs,” said Trustee Ed Cortez, pressing for a clearer definition of the term.
Regarding vicious dogs, Laurie Raymond, owner of “Tail Waggers” pet store in Glenwood Springs, suggested the town require neutering or spaying of an animal in response to first-time infractions. According to Raymond, statistics show an unneutered animal is more likely to display “vicious” behavior and is also more likely to run loose, or attempt to.
Trustee John Foulkrod disagreed.
“My dog is a female dog, and is spayed. And she is just an escape artist, she’s not seeking a mate,” he said. “I don’t approve of the ordinance that says an escaped dog should be neutered.”
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Foulkrod noted that neutering a dog is typically done at an early age in the animal’s life, and that to neuter a dog after it has already developed its mature qualities will not solve anything.
Other issues ” mandatory leash laws and limiting the number of dogs a single owner can have ” were also discussed. Town Attorney Mark Hamilton noted that subdivisions near Carbondale, including Aspen Glen, limit the number of dogs per household.
Trustee Russ Criswell suggested anyone who already owns more than two dogs be allowed to keep all their pets. “It’s simple, if they’re licensed, then they’re grandfathered in,” he said.
Criswell and other trustees agreed annual dog licensing is crucial.
The town’s existing leash law was also addressed.
“If we’re going to enforce a leash law, it has to be for everyone,” said Carbondale resident Beth Broome.
A veterinarian herself, Broome said having a dog on a leash can tend to make the animal more aggressive than not. She pointed out that chaining a dog is also an issue that should be considered, as this can further encourage aggressive behavior.
“I chain my dog up because I don’t want it running off,” said Foulkrod, expressing concern with chaining regulations, “especially if the penalties are having it neutered.”
Bill Lukes, a River Valley Ranch resident, urged the town to focus on regulating dog owners rather than dog behavior.
“Ultimately, it is our responsibility as owners to do what is right,” Lukes said. He agreed leashes seem to encourage aggressive behavior, noting that communities without leash laws ” Snowmass Village in particular ” have few dog problems.
Lukes also suggested the town offer incentives for responsible dog ownership.
“I think we should offer a huge incentive for owners who get their pets neutered and not look at it as a penalty,” Lukes said.
Board members agreed the revised ordinance ought to include rewards for responsible owners.
“Let’s find a way to really reward these people that take care of their dogs,” Criswell said.
On a related note, Carbondale trustees have already agreed to fund a new position in its 2008 budget ” an animal-control officer.