Hayden Town Council OKs pit bulls | CraigDailyPress.com

Hayden Town Council OKs pit bulls

Scott Franz

— Pit bull terriers will not be banned in Hayden.

Hayden resident Carolyn Montieth on Thursday night asked the Hayden Town Council to ban the breed nearly a month after her daughter was attacked by a female pit bull in the western Routt County town.

The council said no breed should be singled out and instead decided to look into giving the municipal court judge the ability to impose higher fines and penalties on residents whose dogs are repeatedly caught running loose.

The council also agreed the current ordinance regarding vicious dogs — which gives the judge the option to impose a wide range of penalties, including banning a vicious dog from town or putting it down — was more favorable than banning a breed.

After Montieth's daughter was attacked by a pit bull Oct. 8, Hayden police issued Jessica Dumas, who owns two pit bull terriers, citations for owning vicious dogs and allowing them to run loose. She is due in court Monday to face the complaints.

Dumas told the council that her dogs are not vicious and asked members not to pursue a ban.

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"My dogs are not vicious; they are very loving," she said.

Dumas said her daughter accidentally let one of the dogs out before it attacked Montieth's daughter, and she apologized for the incident at Thursday's meeting. She said she has taken steps to secure the fence around her home so her dogs will not escape again. Dumas also invited the council to come meet her pit bulls Lady and Piglet, who were in her van parked outside Hayden Town Hall.

Hayden Interim Police Chief Gordon Booco told the council that in the past year, officers have responded to seven vicious animal complaints. He said three of the incidents involved pit bulls, one a cat and the rest other animals. He said in one case, an owner put his pit bull down because it had killed another dog.

Hayden's animal ordinance allows owners who are cited for loose dogs to continue accepting a maximum of a $75 fine instead of appearing in court after the owner's third offense. Mayor Jim Haskins said the council will look into changing the ordinance so owners of dogs that repeatedly are loose would be required to appear in court where a judge can impose harsher penalties.

"This is a tough issue, and a lot of it has to do with the owner and training the dog," he said. "I look at the ordinance we've got, and a lot of this is pretty well-covered."

Montieth said after the meeting that she was happy with the council's decision even though pit bulls won't be banned.

"I think it is good they will look into changing things," she said.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com