Councilors introduce ordinance amending Municipal Code regarding dog waste
Ordinance defines areas where dog excrement is prohibited and allow for a fine to be imposed when violated within the City of Craig
Owners who fail to clean up after their dogs within city limits could face a fine or community service, should Ordinance No. 1122 (2021) pass in full.
The ordinance, which was introduced Tuesday night by city councilors, defines areas where dog excrement is prohibited and allows for a fine to be imposed. The ordinance comes after multiple complaints from residents in recent weeks.
The new ordinance defines in clear terms the requirements of owners removing and disposal of dog excrement within the city of Craig due to continuing issues with dog excrement being present within city limits.
“We decided to take a look at the ordinance following comments and concerns at the last council meeting,” said City Attorney Heather Cannon. “The code was already there, but we are adding sections A through J. Previously, there was no penalty for violating that provision, so this ordinance now obviously gives law enforcement the ability to issue a citation for city court, ability to issue a fine.”
Previously, vocal community member Vicki Huyser brought the issue to council’s attention during the March 23 council meeting, citing the trail behind Sunset Elementary to Murdoch’s — specifically around an apartment complex in the area — as a main area of concern and frustration.
According to Cannon, the first fine for the violation would be $25, and would increase to $50 for the second violation, and $100 for the third and subsequent offenses. The city would consider offering community service instead of a fine, depending on the violator’s financial situation, Cannon added.
Councilor Paul James expressed concern with the fine system when it comes to those who may not have financial issues and would gladly pay a fine.
“It’s not much of a deterrent for those that have the money, but it’s a little more crippling to people that aren’t already well off,” James said. “Community service though, you can do that for 24 hours and move on.”
According to the ordinance, “when any dog defecates upon any property other than that of the owner or custodian, including common areas of condominiums, townhouses, duplexes or apartments, it shall be the duty of the owner or custodian of such dog immediately to remove and properly dispose of such feces as outlined in Section 6.30.010.”
Despite having an ordinance in place to try and combat some of the excess dog waste within city limits, Councilor Chris Nichols raised concerns about the ability to enforce the ordinance.
“With any other ordinance, if we don’t have enforcement, it means nothing. How are we going to enforce this?” Nichols asked.
Interim Chief of Police Michael Cochran said it starts with complaints and leads to educational opportunities around town. As far as how individual owners could be fined, that remains somewhat unclear.
“I think it’s needed, obviously,” Nichols said. “If you walk around town, you have to dodge piles pretty consistently.”
“This is something that is absolutely needed in the books,” Councilor Ryan Hess added. “It will make enforcement a little bit cleaner, and I think we’ll see more compliance, especially when you educate the public. It’s been a habit for people, so we have to break that habit.”
The ordinance now has to go through a first, second, and final reading before being enforced within the community.
Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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