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Boulder County Commissioners Move to Update Barking Dog Ordinance

January 30, 2019

Boulder County dog owners will be on a shorter leash should the commissioners in the coming weeks approve an update to the county’s rules and regulations governing animal control.

Approved during the first of two readings on Tuesday morning, the major change would be to allow people to submit a video of a neighbor’s dog disturbing the peace by “loud, persistent and habitual barking, howling, yelping or making any other loud, persistent and habitual noise,” as prescribed by amendments to the ordinance.

As previously written, the ordinance required complaints from two separate households for Animal Control to issue a warning to a dog owner. If the amendments ultimately pass, a video with audio would supersede the need for a second complaint.

“We thought it was time for a change to adequately address technology,” said Sara Spensieri, Boulder County Animal Control supervisor. “We have a way of documenting (videos) in our evidence section so that it’s permanently recorded and we wanted to make sure that was available to people.”

In addition to reducing the requirements for animal control to issue a warning, the amendments also would reduce the number of warnings, from two to one, before a $45 summons is issued. Prior to issuing a ticket, however, a dog owner has a week to resolve the issue. If a second offense is documented, the fine bumps up to $80, though Spensieri said she has never seen a second offense.

“If you look at our numbers for 2017, we gave 94 barking dog courtesy notices and only two summonses,” Spensieri said. “So it’s really been effective doing that initial courtesy warning and facilitating neighbor-to-neighbor conversations. We find that education is far better than just writing tickets.”

Most of the time issues can be resolved by opening a dialogue between the two parties, as a lot of the time dog owners don’t know their dog is barking while they’re at work and the matter can be settled by simply exchanging phone numbers or sharing a spare key, Spensieri said. However, there are times when a mediator needs to be called in.

Though the commission unanimously approved the amendments on Tuesday morning, they must pass a second reading before they are officially enacted. A date for the second reading has yet to be scheduled, though officials from Boulder County Animal Control said they expect it to happen within the next couple of weeks.

John Spina: 303-473-1389, jspina@times-call.com or twitter.com/jsspina24

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