Enforcers bear some of the blame | AspenTimes.com

Enforcers bear some of the blame

In spite of recent articles on dogs chasing animals on Shadow Mountain, in spite of DOW press releases regarding the problem of wildlife being at increased risk in the winter from domestic animal attacks; two dogs and one elk dead.

It must be noted that local law enforcement has some complicity in the problem. While Basalt and Carbondale have stepped up enforcement of at-large/leash laws in the last year, other law enforcement agencies have apparently continued to keep the issue on a “complaint only” priority.

OK folks, just to put it in perspective for you.

A couple of years ago an Aspen police officer encountered two dogs in a fight in downtown Aspen. I cannot recall if both dogs were unleashed or just the aggressor; however, the owner of the apparent aggressor dog (a pit bull) was unable to get his dog out of the altercation.

The police officer resorted to using his baton in a choke-hold on the dog in order to get it to release the other dog. The police officer gave the owner of the pit bull a verbal warning, no ticket for being vicious, no ticket for a leash infraction.

That pit bull, some months later in Carbondale, went on to attack and kill our cat, and in the ensuing rescue attempt my wife was bitten. Prior to the attack, the dog was routinely walked sans leash, as were many dogs in our neighborhood.

Carbondale stepped up enforcement of leash laws in response to this attack. This unleashed dog attack caused more physical harm, and resulted in greater monetary costs, than the valley’s most recent bank robbery!

So, if law enforcement is reluctant to issue a ticket to the owner of a breed associated with problems of aggression, involved in an attack of aggression, it is no wonder that all the owners running around with their dogs blatantly off leash are so secure in their behavior.

Gee! Look what being nice guys gets you – dead animals and injured humans.

Now the DOW officer is agonizing over whether to issue charges or not because he feels that the dogs’ owners may have suffered enough via the loss of their dogs.

Would he be so nice to a guy that poached an elk then shot his foot while hauling the carcass away? Would the injured foot offset the crime of poaching? The owners of these dogs had ample opportunity to be aware of the laws and liabilities associated with at-large dogs.

Local law enforcement, while enforcing leash, scoop or at-large laws may not be your idea of “to serve and protect,” the legislation regarding these issues should not be regarded as “wallpaper.”

Administrators of our counties and communities should not continue to allow these laws to be treated as “complaint only” enforcement issues. Leash crimes are not victimless crimes; the bodies of two dogs and an elk, the scars on my wife’s hand, are mute testament.

Marco Diaz


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