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The La Plata County Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, December 13, on a rewrite of the county’s animal control code.  While the stated primary purpose is to address complaints regarding barking dogs, the proposal also encompasses cruelty, dangerous dogs, and many other issues.

La Plata County residents are encouraged to contact the County Commission about this proposal, and also to consider attending the December 13 hearing (Scroll down for more information).  

Summary:

The AKC has concerns about several provisions in the proposal:

Definitions of “Dangerous/Vicious Dog” – This proposal combines a number of different actions into single definition of “dangerous/vicious dog”.  These actions include a dog that severely harms or kills someone, a dog that bites someone with varying degrees of severity, as well as a dog that may only appear to have “tendencies” that it “may inflict bodily injury”.  It also includes a dog that kills wildlife, even if the dog is a trained working or flock guardian dog protecting livestock and property.

Owners of dogs considered “dangerous/vicious” will be required to comply with numerous regulations.  Also, animals may be impounded for being considered to be dangerous/vicious.  The AKC is asking that very clear definitions be drafted to differentiate between dogs that are truly dangerous or vicious, and those that are not in order to protect the community, but not punish owners who do not actually own vicious animals.

Definition of “cruelty” – This proposal provides conflicting definitions of “cruelty”. In one section, it outlines acts of mistreating and harming animals, but in another section a person could be convicted of cruelty for “failure to properly control and supervise” their dog.  This proposal further states that animals may be impounded on suspicion of cruelty and will not be released without a court order. The AKC strongly promotes and supports responsible dog ownership; however, the definition of cruelty as a “failure to properly control and supervise” is overly broad. Under this definition, a person could be convicted of cruelty or their dog impounded and not released without a court order if a gate is accidentally left open, or their dog is found at-large even one time.

Definition of “nuisance barking” – This proposal prohibits “nuisance barking”, which is any barking or noise lasting more than 20 minutes at any time of the day.  The AKC supports responsible dog ownership and encourages dog owners to be respectful of their neighbors and community; however, this could prove very difficult to enforce.  A dog being trained for or serving as a working/herding/guardian dog, for example, may be barking in the course of its job of protecting and moving animals and property.  AKC is recommending an amendment to specify that a dog may not be excessively barking without provocation in overnight hours.  Also, AKC recommends that complaints require substantiation in order to protect against excessive complaints as a result of a neighbor dispute, or someone simply claiming a dog has been barking for more than 20 minutes.   

To read the ordinance in its entirety and learn more, visit the County’s website.

What You Can Do:

La Plata County residents are encouraged to do the following:

Attend the Board of County Commissioners Business Meeting:

Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Time: 10:00 am
Location: 1101 E. 2nd Avenue, Board Room
              Durango, CO 82301

Contact the Board of County Commissioners:

All feedback and input are to be directed to county staff member Megan Graham:
Phone: (970) 382-6265
E-mail: megan.graham@co.laplata.co.us

The contact forms for the commission are as follows:

Commissioner Brad Blake (District 1)
Online contact form

Commissioner Gwen Lachelt (District 2)
Online contact form

Commissioner Julie Westendorff (District 3)
Online contact form

For questions or more information, contact AKC Government Relations at doglaw@akc.org

The La Plata County Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, December 13, on a rewrite of the county’s animal control code. La Plata County residents are encouraged to contact the County Commission about this proposal, and also to consider attending the December 13 hearing.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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