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Council approves pet number limit

Dennis Webb

Owning four or more Chihuahuas soon may be illegal in Glenwood Springs, but owning up to three wolf-hybrids will be allowed – at least for now.That’s fine with one Glenwood Springs wolf-hybrid owner who believes the kind of animal isn’t necessarily an indication of its disposition.”I’ve been bitten by a Chihuahua that dang near chewed my leg off,” Robbie Adams told Glenwood Springs City Council last week before it approved an ordinance limiting pet numbers to three dogs and three cats per household.Council members backed off for the time being on a proposal to ban wolf-hybrids, after hearing objections from Adams and another wolf-hybrid owner.”I think what you’ve got here is a problem of provability,” said Greg Hall.Some council members shared Hall’s concern that it might be difficult to prove an animal is a wolf-hybrid if a ban is passed.Adams and some other Glenwood Springs residents supported a cap on pet numbers, however.”If you don’t establish a reasonable number of dogs you leave it to the whim of whoever,” said Walter Gallacher, who lives in the Oasis Creek neighborhood.Gallacher said that this summer 25 dogs lived next door to him, including seven adults and two litters of puppies. He said the animals weren’t fenced in and he dealt with noise and other problems.Gallacher said he was left with no recourse due to the lack of a limit on pet numbers.Mike Fattor, a neighbor of Gallacher’s, shares his frustration.”We do have a major problem up there and any help up there we’d appreciate,” he told council.Some council members expressed discomfort over the idea of putting an arbitrary cap on how many pets residents can have, but agreed they shouldn’t be allowed to own unlimited numbers.”I think you have to have a number or it’s going to get out of control,” Mayor Larry Emery said.But Nancy Williams, owner of the Shaggy Dog grooming salon in Glenwood Springs, questioned limiting numbers, saying one badly misbehaving animal can cause be a lot more disruptive than a lot of obedient ones.”I wish it was as simple as just a number and all of our problems can be solved,” she said.She urged the city to allow exceptions in certain situations, such as in the case of pet-sitters and animal foster care providers.Williams also said it would be better to have a pet performance code that focused on things such as how much noise animals make. City attorney Karl Hanlon agreed to investigate addressing behavioral standards as part of an ordinance.”Maybe there needs to be a limit, but maybe there needs to be more than that,” said council member Dan Richardson.Richardson was the only member of council to vote against the animal ordinance. He wanted to see it ban wolf-hybrids, too, after the attack by a wolf-hybrid on a 7-year-old girl in downtown Glenwood Springs earlier this year.But council is receiving conflicting information about whether wolf-hybrids can be differentiated from dogs. Hall said that can’t be done through genetic testing. He said he adopted his dog from Valley Dog Rescue and was told it may have some wolf in it, but he has no way of knowing.Williams said she opposes bans that discriminate against breeds of dogs, but is concerned about wolf-hybrids.”We cannot rely on them to act like dogs,” she said.She noted that they also can’t be vaccinated. Hanlon said this provided the impetus for the proposed ban. After the attack on the child, the city learned that when wolf-hybrids bite someone officials can’t be sure of the status of their vaccinations.”I think the vaccination issue really scares me to death,” Richardson said.Hanlon said the burden would be on prosecutors to prove whether an animal is a wolf-hybrid. But council member Chris McGovern objected to banning the animals when it’s uncertain whether they even can be shown to be wolf-hybrids.Council members said the city needs to look into the matter more before they would feel comfortable with a wolf-hybrid ban.Council member Bruce Christensen said no city residents should be allowed to have vicious animals of any kind. But that can be determined by behavior, and the city lacks adequate information to ban wolf-hybrids, he said.Adams agreed, and said he objects to singling out and banning animals such as his wolf-hybrid.”He’s probably one of the friendliest dogs I’ve had in my life,” he said.Council will reconsider the animal ordinance in a second reading at a future council meeting.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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