Parachute backs off pit bull ban
PARACHUTE – Town board member Linda Waite lives near an elderly, ailing woman who has had pit bulls housed next door to her.”She couldn’t even go out her back door without feeling threatened,” Waite said Thursday night, explaining her desire to see a pit bull ban imposed in town.However, after hearing from numerous people opposed to Waite’s idea, the board decided Thursday against passing the ban. Instead, it chose to look into a broader vicious animal ordinance that wouldn’t be breed-specific.Their decision came after nearly 50 people from as far away as Grand Junction and Carbondale turned out Thursday night regarding the issue. Several said the problem isn’t pit bulls, but dog owners who don’t do things such as license, sterilize and control their animals.”I totally agree the public needs to be protected from aggressive dogs, but the laws need to be based on sound science, not personal or biased opinions or hysterical news reports,” said Laura Van Dyne of Carbondale. The town had given initial approval to the pit bull ordinance, under which only existing pit bulls could have remained in town, and only if they were registered, licensed and sterilized.However, on Thursday night none of the other town board members seconded Waite’s motion to give final passage to the measure, despite her amending it so it also would have included some other breeds, such as Dobermans, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids.Instead, the board directed Ed Sands, a Rifle attorney who consults for the town, to take a different approach on the matter. Sands said he would prepare an ordinance for the board to consider under which any problem dogs could be designated as potentially dangerous, and required to be strictly confined. If they later behaved in a way deemed to be dangerous, they would have to be destroyed.Some had questioned whether a pit bull ban in Parachute would have violated a state law prohibiting breed-specific dog bans. However, Sands noted that Denver imposed such a ban and it was upheld by the state Supreme Court because Denver is a home rule city. Parachute also operates under a home rule charter, rather than strictly under state law.Discussion about the possible pit bull ban prompted larger concerns Thursday that animal control problems aren’t adequately dealt with within either Parachute or in unincorporated Garfield County, and that inadequate animal control resources are in place.Town administrator Juanita Satterfield noted that the town has a dog license ordinance in place now, but only 35 dogs are licensed.”We’ve got a people problem. People need to obey the ordinances that are already in place,” she said.The town tries to encourage compliance with the licensing ordinance through educational means. Violators must pay only the $25 cost of the license, which prompted one town resident to urge the board to impose a fine amount that would encourage compliance.Although other town trustees didn’t go along with Waite’s pit bull ban, they shared her concerns about dog problems in town.”I’ve had a dog and I’ve walked in this community and I’ve been afraid,” said Trustee Judith Hayward.”We stand for protection of the citizens of our town and so I think we have to do something.”Trustee Travis Sproles said he thinks a broader ordinance that isn’t breed-specific will give the town “more teeth” in addressing the problem.Contact Dennis Webb: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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