Through lively and sometimes emotional discussion, rural La Plata County residents suggested regulatory solutions to one of the county’s favorite subjects: barking dogs.
At a Tuesday open house on the county’s animal control and cruelty regulations, county staff members discussed new details for proposed revisions with a group of about 15 residents.
The county’s animal control regulations were last updated in the 1990s. Under the proposed revisions, 20 minutes or more of continuous barking is grounds for a neighbor to lodge a signed complaint.
Owners of unruly dogs would be subjected to fines for repeat offenses, provided the complaining neighbor can provide evidence.
The first strike would result in a written warning, giving the dog owner 10 days to fix the problem.
On Tuesday, residents pointed out a few loopholes in the revisions.
For one, the regulations do not have a provision for removal of a nuisance animal. Theoretically, a dog owner with deep pockets could continue to pay his way while his dog continues to plague the neighbors.
A judge would hold the power to remove an animal from repeat offenders, county spokeswoman Megan Graham said.
The meeting’s attendees were also uncertain about the “20 continuous minutes” standard for reporting a dog.
“Why should it be 20 continuous minutes?” noted one citizen. “A nuisance is a nuisance.”
Guard dogs could possibly be exempt from the regulations, but that would require a registration fee of an undetermined amount with the La Plata County Humane Society.
Vicious, or dangerous animals, as determined by a judge, would also require registration with the Humane Society, and the animal would be confined to a kennel, pen or a maximum 4-foot leash when outside its owner’s property.
County staff recorded the public’s feedback, which will be considered as the ordinance is massaged before a final draft goes before the county commissioners.