The recent dog attack on Montezuma Avenue isn’t surprising. Cortez allows this with little responsibility placed on those choosing to keep “vicious” dogs (as defined by Ordinance 5-1).
In my neighborhood, we’ve seen dogs escape repeatedly, threaten another dog in his own yard, charge someone walking their pet, lunge over fences and ambush the UPS driver.
This is the city’s advice:
- Careful defending anyone threatened on your own property. You will need proof of the dog’s aggression; otherwise expect animal cruelty charges. (City Attorney Mike Green, January 2021 phone conversation)
- Anyone bothered by dogs reaching over fences across public sidewalks should avoid those areas. They have a “right to protect their territory.” (Animal Control Officer Pope, in person, June 2019)
- Be infinitely understanding. “Maybe the owner isn’t aware.” “Maybe the dog is scared of hats.” (Officer Pope, same meeting)
- City Ordinance 5-30 Keeping of vicious animals means ... nothing? City Attorney Mike Green explained in an email in February 2021:
"The current Animal Code sections are a collection of ordinances enacted over the years. I understand some come from state law, some from other cities and towns.
"As I was not the city attorney for all of the current ordinances at the time of their enactment I cannot speak to the intent of City Councils of the past."
Stop shifting the burden away from irresponsible owners. Ordinances are currently being re-written so the council should read Sec. 5-30 and consider reasonable measures modeled by the many responsible owners to keep aggressive dogs from attacking people.