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Changes proposed for draft barking dog ordinance in La Plata County

Officials will continue reworking draft
La Plata County is looking to adopt its first ordinance to address rural barking dogs. Figuring out how to effectively enforce it is a big area of discussion.

Officials are finessing La Plata County’s first ordinance to address rural barking dogs, and figuring out how to effectively enforce it.

County staff presented a draft of the new law to commissioners in April, and they met Tuesday with leaders from Animal Control, the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office and county court to hear changes proposed by Animal Control, including the terms for filing a complaint.

The proposed code would deem it unlawful for an owner to keep a dog that “disturbs its neighbors by making loud, habitual and persistent barking, howling, yelping or whining noises” continually for 20 minutes during the day, 15 minutes at night or a cumulative 90 minutes throughout a 24-hour period.

Proposed changes include encouraging, rather than requiring, complainants to supply demonstrative evidence of the nuisance dog.

“One of the things under consideration is does it make sense to require evidence?” county attorney Kathleen Lyon said. “The concern from the Humane Society is that having to dedicate an officer to looking at footage would be time-consuming.”

Other proposed changes include:

Change the definition of a dog “at large” to include when the animal is unsupervised and unrestrained on or off the owner’s property.Do not require the complainant to provide his or her name for the first warning administered to an offender.Account for dogs barking at wildlife.Tighten the definition of “working dog” to specify that such an animal is actively working the owner’s livestock by “controlling the movement of the livestock.”The last was proposed because Animal Control has encountered offenders who claim they own “working dogs” as a means of avoiding prosecution.

County leaders will continue massaging the ordinance before it goes before the commissioners for a vote.

jpace@durangoherald.com

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