Rifle judges given extra options for impounded animals | AspenTimes.com

Rifle judges given extra options for impounded animals

Rifle Animal Shelter Executive Director Heather Mullen goes out for a dog walk in 2018.
File photo

Rifle city judges have more options now when it comes to what to do with the pets of owners who are repeat offenders for animal-related offenses.

Rifle City Council on April 7 voted to amend its ordinance to now also allow judges to put up an animal taken into custody for adoption following five days of it going unclaimed.

The council passed the amendment unanimously without discussion.

Previously, euthanasia was the only option available under municipal ordinance.

“We don’t want the dog to be killed because of an irresponsible person,” Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein said. “This ordinance will give the option to turn the dog over to the shelter for adoption.”

The number of animals put down at the Rifle Animal Shelter is generally low, Klein said. A combined 20 cats and dogs were euthanized there, figures from a Shelter Animal Count national database show.

That, however, doesn’t mean the number of repeat offenders isn’t an issue for the city.

“We’ve come across a number of cases where repeat offenders always have their dogs out,” Rifle court clerk and public information officer Kathy Pototsky said. “This is not a, ‘Your dog got out on vacation and we’re putting it up for adoption.’”

In 2019, the city logged a combined 297 criminal and non-criminal animal violations, records show. Violations range anywhere from chronic offenders letting their pets continue to relieve themselves in neighboring yards to animals running at large.

Potosky said an animal is usually impounded after an owner is cited three or more times.

“It could be four, five, six even seven against the same person,” she said. “We have two right now — one has seven open (cases) and one has five.”

Once they’re impounded, the judge can order animals to be euthanized if they’re deemed vicious and present any threat to the general public, experiencing noticeable pain or suffering or if the owner is considered irresponsible.

Meanwhile, former owners will be liable for the costs of the care, keeping or disposal of the animal, including but not limited to payment of a bond for the cost of impoundment pending court proceedings, the new amendment states.

“This is a good ordinance,” Klein said.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

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