Dog ordinance short on bite

Changes to a Grand Junction ordinance will add more teeth to the issue of dangerous dogs.

Grand Junction City Councilors are expected to discuss the matter during a hearing Wednesday night. If approved, the proposed changes will affect people attempting to sell dogs in parking lots around the city and increase enforcement of owners of dangerous dogs.

According to Penny McCarty, director of Mesa County Animal Services, animal officers felt strapped with the city’s current ordinance after two incidents last year in which people were attacked by pit bulls.

“We realized we did need some additional tools,” McCarty told councilors during a meeting Monday.

Owners who have dangerous dogs would have to purchase an annual $100 license. Funds from the license would be used to employ an officer to check up on owners’ compliance. While at home, dogs that have been deemed dangerous by a judge must be contained in cages. While on a leash in public, the dogs must be muzzled.

However, according to the ordinance, the stipulations are only enforced for two years, and residents with dangerous dogs sometimes have repeat incidents, McCarty said.

About 90 dogs a year are deemed dangerous in Mesa County, she said.

Dogs that are considered a public threat are defined as having the potential to cause “injury, death or illness to a person or animal.” If the ordinance is approved, those animals will be impounded until owners can appear in court.

McCarty said her agency has dealt with the owner of a dog that repeatedly crossed U.S. Highway 50 and the owner had racked up several citations for having a dog at-large. The dog was not considered dangerous, but a motorist could have been hurt or killed while attempting to swerve out of its path.

Three people in Mesa County have been injured this way, McCarty said.

The agency also commonly receives complaints from the public over people selling dogs in public, often in parking lots. Business owners often don’t condone sales on their property, but are hesitant to ask their employees to tell the people selling dogs to leave, she said.

New language in the ordinance would require that people receive permission from the business to sell the dogs there. Also, the owners must be able to prove by certification from a veterinarian that the animals are healthy, vaccinated and more than 8 weeks old.


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