Casper City Council Further Refines Animal Ordinance
The Casper City Council has further refined a proposed animal control ordinance with a requirement that all animals in public be on a leash.
"There would be no exceptions," Casper City Attorney John Henley said after a work session Tuesday.
"We'd had a provision whereby dog owners could use parks or their sidewalks -- walk around the block before work or after work or go throw the Frisbee for their dogs after work -- but there were some concerns about that," Henley said.
"There were just too many dogs that might get away and harm children or run over elderly people or small children," he said.
Council plans to vote on the ordinance on Jan. 8. The city has posted the current and proposed ordinances, and solicitations for comments, on its website.
The effort for a wholesale revision of the ordinance began in late October, when council member Chris Walsh submitted a report citing data collected at Metro Animal Services (his wife is Metro's director) from Jan. 1, 2017, to June 27, 2018.
There were 721 reported animal attacks or bites that had occurred in Casper, or more than one per day, Walsh wrote.
Of that total, 539 were bites to people, many of whom required medial attention, concerns about rabies and quarantines for the animals, he wrote. "Many of these attacks were unprovoked, unexpected and unwarranted."
The rest were animal-on-animal attacks, mostly dogs against dogs, Walsh wrote.
Henley said Tuesday a lot of residents have submitted comments on the proposed ordinance.
Walsh said the current ordinance says animals must be on a leash or "under control," but "under control" is interpreted to mean either on a leash or under voice command. Voice command sometimes does not restrain animals, he said.
Several council members agreed that the allowance for not having a dog on a leash is unacceptable.
Dallas Laird said the leash issue is the most important part of the proposed ordinance.
Charlie Powell said that people should not need to alter their jogging, walking or dog-walking routes out of concern for an unleashed animal. "Sidewalks should be safe."
Powell agreed with Scott Johnson who said dogs should be leashed except in designated dog parks.
Although unleashed dogs on fenced-in private property are acceptable, most of those fenced-in areas are in back yards.
Several council members said front yards should be fenced-in, too, if dogs hang out on front yards.
Mike Huber said people may object to that restriction on private property, but they should consider the concerns of people walking on a public sidewalk. Most people don't have their dogs in their front yards, he added.
Dallas Laird disagreed with Huber.
Two recently elected council members were asked about their thoughts.
Khrystyn Lutz of Ward I said she has children and so she's nervous about unleashed dogs.
Kenneth Bates of Ward II said he likes to walk his dog in Paradise Valley Park and always has his dog on a leash.
But Bates added that he should not have to have a leashed dog on his property and didn't like the idea of fencing in his front yard. "As long as it's on my property, leave it alone."
A couple of council members including Mayor Ray Pacheco suggested leaving out the front yard fencing issue and revisiting it if there is a problem.
Powell, however, referred to the data about animal attacks, saying, "the statistic we will never see is (the number of) people who don't feel safe."