Animal-code changes raise some residents' hackles

There may be little debate June 14 when proposed changes to the city's animal code go before the Craig City Council for the fifth time.

Many of the concerns expressed by the most vocal opponents of the changes were dealt with at a special meeting Tuesday night. A dozen Craig residents met with city officials to review 15 pages of code one page at a time. Two hours later, group members left hopeful that the ordinance, which has been tabled twice already, could be approved by the City Council without the lengthy debate it's seen on its past readings.

If approved June 14, the changes become law.

Growing numbers of stray animals and an increasing number of animal-related complaints that authorities could do little to remedy led former animal control officer Amy Andrews to work on revamping laws.

Tuesday's meeting gave those interested a chance to hash out their concerns.

Although opponents still are concerned about a requirement that dogs be on leashes at all times, they're satisfied with Craig police Capt. Jerry Delong's promise to consider an exemption for service dogs that are either at work or are in training.

"We could be opening a can of worms," Delong said, concerning the ability to define "service dog" and prove that dog is a service dog when someone tells a police officer it is.

Joni Zaragoza, a member of the Humane Society of Moffat County, came to the meeting armed with research, notes and strongly formed opinions.

"This is our chance to write this correctly," she said.

Zaragoza's main concern was a requirement that all animals adopted in Craig be spayed or neutered within 30 days of their adoption if they are heavier than 2 pounds or older than 8 weeks. She recommended the provision be changed to say that all pets adopted from "the city's sanctioned animal shelter" be spayed or neutered "by the time the animal is 6 months old."

It is not likely the code will be changed. Both the state's veterinarian and local veterinarians have said the procedure is safe for animals at 8 weeks old.

A provision limiting the number of pets on person can have, something Zaragoza opposed, also is likely to remain.

She argued that the problems associated with having multiple animals -- noise, smell, neglect, abuse -- were addressed in other portions of the code.

The Craig City Council will consider the second reading of the ordinance in two weeks. If it passes, the changes become law.

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