Craig City Council tables animal ordinance proposal

Craig City Councilor Tom Gilchrist scoured the 18 pages of animal ordinance additions and changes, finding wrongs that included typos and Constitutional violations.

And he wasn't the only person at Tuesday night's Craig City Council meeting who pored over the recommendations. Six animal-loving audience members showed the same attention to detail.

"You're making all of us pay for the stupidity and irresponsibility of a few," Craig resident Laura Tyler said.

The council tabled the revisions to an ordinance amending the animal portion of the Craig Municipal Code -- of which 29 provisions are new and 36 have been modified from their original versions -- which was last amended in 1978.

Most contentious of the changes was one that required cats to be licensed and wear collars.

"Have you ever tried to put a collar on a 14-year-old cat?" asked resident Mary Danford.

According to Craig Police Capt. Jerry DeLong, licensing cats and requiring them to wear collars only will assist animal-control officers and the animal shelter in reuniting lost pets with their owners.

That solution, though, solves a problem that Gilchrist doesn't think exists.

"If you're a responsible pet owner and you lose your cat, the first place you're going to look is the animal shelter," he said. "What we're effectively doing is punishing the responsible pet owners by putting collars on cats."

Moffat County Humane So--ciety member Mary Blakeman said she'd talk with fellow members about purchasing a microchip scanner. With that equipment, pet owners could have a rice-sized microchip implanted into their pets. The microchip transmits an identification number, which is matched to owner information.

Not having a collar on a cat -- or a dog, for that matter -- could result in a $50 fine -- $75 on the second or subsequent violations.

Councilor Terry Carwile was concerned that limiting leash length to 8 feet, which the ordinance does, eliminates the use of all retractable leashes and means there is no place in Craig where dogs can run free. He asked that someone consider building a dog park -- a fenced area where dogs can roam free and chase Frisbees -- before restricting them to 8 feet.

Craig Parks and Recreation De--part-ment employees have mull-ed the idea after facing a huge problem with dog waste at Woodbury Park.

"As far as our sports activities are concerned at Woodbury, it's almost unbearable. It really poses a problem. We have to go out there with shovels to clean up," Director Dave Pike said.

Gilchrist had myriad issues with ordinance provisions. As the owner of two cats chosen from a box in front of a grocery store, he doesn't see a problem with continuing that form of pet adoption.

The Craig Police Department does.

Delong said that in too many cases, children pressure reluctant parents into taking pets. In a few days, "buyer's remorse" sets in, and, Delong said, it becomes the Police Department's problem.

Protests from Gilchrist and audience members forced a change to the ordinance that would have allowed a police officer to enter and inspect any public or private property when in pursuit of (an animal) thought to be at-large, vicious, have bitten a person, sick or injured or have violated the "unsafe tethering" portion of the ordinance.

"That is an invasion of private property, and I believe Amend--ment Four of the Bill of Rights protects you from that," Danford said.

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