Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Side Effects Of Dog Bans... Which Is Why They Don't Work

County mulls more bite in dog laws

By John Aguilar, Rocky Mountain News
December 6, 2005
LITTLETON - Arapahoe County is considering beefing up its vicious-dog regulations to try to keep from becoming a "dumping ground" for animals that are increasingly unwelcome elsewhere in the metro area.

The proposed changes, which would apply to unincorporated parts of the county, would increase the fine for owning a dog that terrorizes or attacks a person, or other animal, from $50 to as much as $1,000 with a mandatory court appearance.

The minimum fine would be $500. A judge would ultimately decide the amount of the fine, depending on the severity of the attack or threat.

The new resolution would also allow an animal-control officer to capture a dog on private property if the animal was not restrained and the owner wasn't home.

"Stiffer penalties make people take more control of their dogs," said Thea Thompson, animal-control supervisor for Arapahoe County, during a Monday study session with county leaders.

Capt. Mark Fisher, of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, told commissioners that his department has responded to 69 aggressive-dog calls this year.

The county has been feeling increasing pressure to strengthen its animal-control measures as nearby municipalities such as Denver, Aurora and Commerce City place bans and severe restrictions on pit bulls.

Arapahoe County cannot ban specific dog breeds, like Denver has done with pit bulls, because the county is not a home-rule municipality and must comply with state statutes, which forbid breed-specific bans.

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