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Authorities, owners should take dog ordinances seriously

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.

Shannon Meyer