Neighbors at end of leashes over shelter’s barking dogs |

Neighbors at end of leashes over shelter’s barking dogs

Lynn Burton
Staff Writer

The Elk Springs Home Owners Association has hired a legal beagle to hound Colorado Animal Rescue about the barking dogs at its Spring Valley shelter.

“The barking and noise is creating a nuisance to property owners,” attorney Larry Green told the Garfield County commissioners on Monday.

“The problems are ongoing,” added Elk Springs resident Steve Smith, as he and Green addressed the commissioners. “I heard them barking today.”

Colorado Animal Rescue (CAR), a nonprofit group, has operated a pet shelter on Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley Campus for three years. CAR board president Sharon Haller defended her group after the meeting.

“We’ve done everything we can do to make sure our animals don’t disturb anybody,” Haller said. “But it’s like an amphitheater up there. We can’t do anything about the geology.”

Green asked the commissioners to make CAR obtain a special use permit for its facility, and also to enforce noise ordinances that pertain to most kennels.

The commissioners directed county attorney Don DeFord to research the issues Green brought up, but took no further action.

The CAR shelter is different from other kennels in unincorporated Garfield County. It does not need a special use permit to operate due to its relationship with Colorado Mountain College, which leases the shelter property to CAR.

“Colorado Mountain College is exempt from land use regulations because it’s a school,” said Garfield County planner Mark Bean.

Green disagreed that CAR is exempt from the county’s special use permit process, which can require permit holders to lessen impacts on neighbors. He questioned whether CMC uses CAR in any official capacity.

“CAR is not an integral part of CMC,” Green said. “CAR is a tenant, and nothing more.”

Colorado Mountain College officials were not available for comment.

Green is hanging his legal hat on a second point as well. He said a new county regulation sets noise levels for kennels that should be applied to the CAR shelter.

DeFord told the commissioners he would research the noise regulation issue. After the meeting, he said the noise regulations were passed after the commissioners approved a special use permit for a sled dog kennel on Dry Park Road.

Elk Springs subdivision sits along County Road 114 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, just west of CMC’s Spring Valley Campus.

Smith said the solution to barking dogs is for CAR to remove its outside dog runs and keep dogs indoors. Haller said Smith’s request is “unreasonable” and in her board’s opinion, keeping dogs inside all the time is not humane.

Haller said CAR met with Smith and CMC two years ago to talk about barking dogs. After the meeting, CAR installed acoustic fabric inside the shelter to lessen the noise, and added an employee to make sure the “barkers” were outside for only a short time. CAR also suggested two landscaping features Elk Springs residents could construct to lessen the sound.

Haller said the shelter’s maximum dog capacity is 36. The dogs spend no more than 20 minutes outside at a time, “Dogs that misbehave must be brought in.”

Green gave the commissioners a petition signed by 47 people who own 23 Elk Springs lots supporting Smith’s request.

“This is a problem, and not just one ornery neighbor,” Smith said.

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