Joe Cosby: Ease leash laws

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— Several weeks ago, I started to get signatures on a petition to appear before the City Council to ask them to find an alternative to the current leash law enforcement, one that would make Steamboat friendlier to dog owners.

I thought I was looking for signatures. What I found was something else. First, I found a whole set of friends, both dog owners and not. Almost all of them shared stories about their dogs, past and present. However, there was a persistent and pernicious thread that came out of these encounters.

With its existing leash laws, Steamboat is squandering its tax dollars and generating fear of its animal control officers on a daily basis. Instead of creating a "safer environment," we are creating a hostile environment for most dog owners.

As of this moment, few in the community are well served by the overzealous enforcement of the existing restrictive leash laws than perhaps those enforcing them.

How is this happening? The intent of a leash law should be to protect citizens from aggressive dogs or stray dogs where there is no owner present or not in control of the animal. This makes sense. The Animal Control Department gets perhaps 15 to 20 calls a month for aggressive dogs off-leash or on the prowl. That's their job. We call them, they come. So far, so good.

However, in addition to the above activities that are needed by every community, we have two full-time animal control officers in vehicles lurking in our neighborhoods and open areas looking for dogs off-leash, even when the owner is present, so they can issue tickets. We are not talking about aggressive, vicious or even stray dogs. So then, the owner gets a citation that is merely for "dog off-leash." These are not the aggressive or unsocial dogs nor the ones knocking over or chasing our children. Nor are they leaving treasures on your lawn - that's a different issue.

What's wrong with this picture? It's a good revenue stream for the city, but the payout isn't worth it. Since when is the animal control office a profit center?

This leaves dog owners constantly on guard looking for animal control officers patrolling their neighborhoods. And Steamboat earns the reputation of being unfriendly to dogs. Steamboat is not the suburbs. Having two areas in town where dogs can be off-leash does not make Steamboat a dog-friendly place.

On the bright side, there is a way out of this dangerous cul-de-sac. Steamboat can regain its image of being dog-friendly, and receive non-tax-dollar revenue, and protect its citizens from aggressive and non-social dogs, and the citizens do not have to fear law enforcement officers, and dogs get to be dogs.

I was asked by the folks who signed my petition, "What can we do?" My suggestion was this:

Dog owners would agree to have their dogs tested (perhaps by Humane Society personnel). The test would have the owner command their dog to "come" even with other dogs around, and the dog would not be aggressive to people or other dogs on- or off-leash. This passes the intent of the leash laws. The owners would be willing to pay $35 to $50 for the test and a special "good conduct" tag readily visible to all.

Everyone I spoke with (even those whose dogs would not pass the test) liked it. It makes sense, as opposed to what exists now.

These measures can take as little as 30 days to get under way. By doing so, perhaps Steamboat can consider not reducing snow removal with its new added revenues.

Joe Cosby

Steamboat Springs

Comments

dave reynolds 4 years, 8 months ago

besides two dog parks you have the Routt County National Forest Oh I guess thats not big enough..I have been biten several times by"oh I cann't beleive my dog would do that dogs" ask meter readers for the city and yampa valley eletric about some of there experiences keep this in mind several of my friends rule is if your dog bites me I'll shoot it extreme yes my daughter has been scared to death by so called friendly dogs and lets not forget those dogs in the City Market parking lot whom are in their owners car barking and snarling at anyone and everyone who walks by....I grew up with a dog so no I do not dislike them...yes I'm for the lease law so please where it is required out of respect for others obey the law thank you

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 8 months ago

When I was living in town a couple three years ago, we had a dog at large problem that reflected unfairly on the responsible owners in the neighborhood; which resulted in some friction with Animal Control.

We wound up taking matters into our own hands: we reported at large dogs to animal control; we delivered some of the dogs ourselves to AC; we insisted that owners be fined (we learned that 1st time offenders were frequently let off the hook); and we were confrontational with owners who didn't pick up after their dogs. We were pretty militant about it, and the dog at large problem evaporated in about a month.

The reality is that for every responsible dog owner in Steamboat/Routt County, there are 20 pinheads. As long as that reality persists, Mr. Cosby is pissing into the wind.

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mtroach 4 years, 8 months ago

The idea of a voice control tag is a good one but, I for one would rather see the SSPD enforcing traffic laws than see two dog officers on issueing tickets. I think a more severe problem with law enforcement in this town is the lack of officers available to give out speeding, and red light running tickets. The SSPD is strapped when it comes to officers, and I think having two animal enforcement officers on duty is a waste when we really need traffic enforcement. Kremmling has two cops that sit and run radar, I wonder how much revenue they recieve from speeders in their town, I know I toe the line when I'm passing thru, just because I know they are serious about the speed limit in Kremmling, here not so much.

For the record, my dog comes when called, and is as sweet as can be, unless you are sticking your hand in her truck when I'm not present, then she can get pretty snarly. The arguements to retain dog control at the same level have merit. Dogs will be dogs, and laws need to be in place to protect everyone.

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Howard Merken 4 years, 8 months ago

I saw a dog walk out in front of a car while I was jogging in Texas. A driver stopped and was rearended. Aggressive dogs are not a big problem. Dogs who walk out in traffic are a danger to anyone in a car.

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nxoby36 4 years, 8 months ago

What is the matter with you People ? You either hate dogs or are unreasonably afraid of them . Many of us are tired of you trying to force us to put a long time member of our family on a leash because you have a phobia about dogs . Most of these dogs are better behaved then your stupid children . You hysterically call 911 when ever you see a Bear , Coyote , Badger , Elk , Deer , Skunk , Cow , Dog or even a Cat within a 1/4 mile of your little circle of personal space . Quit wasting the time of our Public Safety Officials and tying up the 911 Emergency system with your petty phobias . If you want to cry to someone about your decision to live here and inability to adapt to a rural environment call your mom. Why the hell did you move here? Steamboat isn't an urban area no matter how much you want it to be . We live 100 miles from the closest Freeway . There are many dog owners with well behaved pets and lots of wild critters live around here also , this is not Disney Land or a Zoo . Face it folks you belong in LA , New York City , Chicago or what ever urban blight you came from . Somewhere that all animals are behind bars in a cage or on a leash safely protected from you. If you are unable to enjoy the privilege of a sighting of one of natures critters , a person enjoying walking their best friend unencumbered with a restraint or a dog legally walking around in its own yard , leave here no one is forcing you to stay . Either adapt to life here or git ! Go back to where you can be safe from encountering wild animals and folks walking their dog. There you can enjoy being mugged and judging each other by the cost of your car or size of your home . Maybe then the budget of our Police and Sherif's department would not be so stressed by responding to your frivolous whining 911 phone calls . No one asked or forced you to come live here .

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Troutguy 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, nxoby36. Nice post. Maybe you could buy yourself a couple hundred acres somewhere and build yourself a unabomber type shack to fisnish up your hate manifesto towards the world. And, your dog could run around without a leash. Just think of the possibilities!!

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dave reynolds 4 years, 8 months ago

thats good trout..i grew up in rural montana..have no phobias or have i called 911...all i ask is obey the laws..by36 how many time have you been pissed off cause someone was speeding and put"your family member" in danger...what a concept the leash law is to protect your pet from this very thing

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dave reynolds 4 years, 8 months ago

nxoby36..several years ago while traving south on 131(i was not speeding) i ran over a young black lab approx 8 to 11 months old..i did the right thing call for help and tried to do what i could for the dog..i comforted that dog while it died in my arms..thats why i am so adament about the leash law..would you like to go though that if that pup wuold have been fenced in or on a chain(lenghtly) that would not have happened.i think of that pup often when i drive by where it happened..so if you read this think about it and get over your rage while the law is in affect obey it ..thank you

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nxoby36 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes sir " Troutguy " when all else fails start calling people names did you also stick out your tongue and give me the raspberries that really wins an argument ... Not ! And it sure doesn't indicate anything good about your intelligence . " Paddlefisher " no where in my comment did I imply that I don't leash my dog when taking her for a walk , She's a 15 year old and still gets excited when I get her leash out as that means we are going for a walk. But you did bring up something that the police should devote more time to , Speeding . But I guess that the people find it more important for them to harass dog owners than to enforce the speed limit , or is it just easier ? Just look at "The Record " in todays paper there are more animal complaints then any thing else , what a waste of time for the police .

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nxoby36 4 years, 8 months ago

" Paddlefisher " the same thing happened to me while ridding my Motor Cycle on US 50 in the Arkansas river canyon on a little fishing trip . I managed to keep the bike upright but the young lab was killed . I also held the dog in my lap and watched it die while my passenger walked up and down the highway knocking on doors until she found the owner . We then helped her ( the dog owner) bury her pet in her yard all of us with tears in our eyes . Thirty years ago that was and I also will never forget it . But that doesn't change the fact that if the speed limit ( 25 mph ) were better enforced around here maybe the drivers could stop when an escaped dog or some ones child wandered into the road. I still don't see as many speeders being reported to 991 as stray animals. Maybe it's time to modify our priorities and quit wasting the Public Safety Officers time and our tax money on loose pets ? Of course it is more difficult to remember the color , type of car and license plate numbers when calling 911 than whining about a big black dog on the loose in the street .

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Howard Merken 4 years, 8 months ago

As to a few comments above, no, I DO NOT hate dogs, nor am I scared of any but the vicious ones--and they're not the ones I'm concerned about. We used to own dogs, and we will again, once we own land. But why should my car get wrecked because a dog runs out in the street? It isn't necessary. We try hard enough to keep from hitting pedestrians and cyclists who ride two abreast. And then there's the terrible driving done by people talking on their cell phones who can't signal with one hand tied up, concentrate well while they're talking, or even look behind when backing up (one almost hit me in a school parking lot as she was backing up while on her cell phone). Let's not add to that trying to miss an unleashed dog.

I borrowed a bike while spending time in the Netherlands. The owner's mother, my landlord, told me that if I cause an accident, "you must pay". Who pays when I'm in an accident due to a dog in the street? What should I do, shoot him and turn him in, so that his owner will pay?

Since I cross-country ski at Whistler Park, I've met plenty of dogs. They're nice and friendly. But I have to keep my own little kids out of the street, lest they become road kill. And my responsibility as a dog owner, when I become one again, will include keeping him fenced up, leashed up, or living so far from town that it won't matter.

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dave reynolds 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm not going to get in a giant p...g contest over this.bottom line its the law obey it if you cann't then its a "you" thing.."trying to force us to put a long time member of our family on a leash".."most of these dogs are better behaved than your stupid children"..nicely put I bet your dog is as friendly as can be but till the law is modified follow it seems pretty simple to me

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Clearsky 4 years, 8 months ago

When a dog bites a child in the face and the owner says "he's never done that before, Sorry." That not going to cover the medical costs. So if the dog owners want to put up about $10,000 or more in an account to pay for the medical costs if something like that happens then maybe it would be OK to have an off leash law. Plus I would likely sue for pain and suffering and would have to check for rabies.

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Howard Merken 4 years, 8 months ago

If it's illegal for me to threaten you, shouldn't it be illegal for a dog to bite me when I'm in a public area? I guess it is, but I'm no lawyer.

A roommate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks told me that a three- or four-year-old boy in Fairbanks was bitten in the face. The boy's father followed the dog home, and shot it in his master's kitchen. The lady who owned the dog pushed charges, but the father was exonerated. By the way, Fairbanks was the only place I've been bitten without provocation. (Other bites were due to me tresspassing when I was a kid, and acting as if I were going to knock a girl off a bike when I was even younger.)

My best friend, born in Mexico, told me that in Mexico City, they determined that there were too many dogs. So the police started shooting them, hitting some people by accident. Not too smart, for sure, but remember the police shooting unarmed students there protesting the Olympics in the 1970's? I surely wouldn't want the Mexican method used here, but I am sick of being threatened by dogs without good reason when I can't even do that to a person.

Want rights? What about responsibilities? Most people are fine, but we have to lock our doors because of the bad ones. We also need leash laws because of the bad dogs, and believe me, I've met my share.

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freerider 4 years, 8 months ago

NO FREKING WAY SHOULD WE EASE LEASH LAWS.....I will be the first to admit I don't like dogs ...not since a German Shepard took one of my kids down and she ended up in the E.R. room from some idiot dog owner that SHOULD HAVE HAD THE DOG ON A LEASE....MORON

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Duke_bets 4 years, 8 months ago

nxoby - You state that those who obey the laws belong in LA. You belong in a cave with your hounds. You can make up your own rules in that setting. Geez!

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exduffer 4 years, 8 months ago

I propose that the city offer a test with drivers. We show up sober at the police station, swear we will never break the rules and then get a special license plate so that we never get pulled over. This should stop the world view that SS is driver unfriendly.

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trump_suit 4 years, 8 months ago

exduffer, I really like that idea. We could even register with acet that we are drug free, no investigation necessary, and with the IRS I promise to pay everything I owe "really" no more audits :)

Seriously we need a leash free park or two, and other than that if you are in a city your dog belongs on a leash. Is that so difficult to understand?

Forest/Trees = run free buildings/cars = leash

pretty simple really.

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jk 4 years, 8 months ago

trump, that is a good suggestion but the forest service requires your beloved pet to be on a leash also, something about them bothering the bears, skunks and porcupines.

I am gonna throw it out there again. Most dogs I have come across are more well behaved than most of the kids. Are these parents that don't ask anything of their little lovelies gonna be required to go through a course also? Are they gonna have to leash them so they don't run out in front of a truck in the parking lot?? After all it is only for their safety, and for some reason they didn't respond to voice command.

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trump_suit 4 years, 8 months ago

Not totally true jk.. The zirkel area including places like Mica Lake, Three Island lake etc is leash free if under voice control. Several hundred thousand acres of forest and streams ought to take care of even the most active pooch.

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s_jroutt 4 years, 8 months ago

I have 3 dogs, 2 I trust and one I don't. But when put around people I don't trust any of them. Unless they are at home and someone comes over, but not in my back yard. We go to the river one stays on a lease at all times because he's a snot. No its not fun to have to be tied to the dog at all times but I would rather have that than him bite someone. The other two do come when called, but I still don't trust them. I am a contract meter reader for YVEA, yes we get bit on a daily bases. I have been lucky not to be bitten yet, but someone that works with us has been bitten 5 times in one day by the "my dog has never bitten anybody before" dogs don't like certain people, sorry guys. I also have to remeber that I'm going into there yard, they are doing there job by protecting their property, just the same as all you guys walking them with no leash, they are protecting you. Yes "fluffy has never bitten anybody before I just can't understand it" guess what fluffy is having a bad day just like you guys do.

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exduffer 4 years, 8 months ago

How about we have a new inclusionary zoning ordinance that requires developers to build leash free parks as part of any new developement. We will allow them to opt out by purchasing land off site that can be used. There is a nice piece of open property along the river in downtown that has been vacant for a few years that could be a starting point.

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Monty 4 years, 8 months ago

I own 2 dogs. About 6 months ago, my lab mix was starting to display fear-aggression so we found a trainer that specializes in training aggressive dogs. We are still working with our dog and never allow him off the leash in public. In fact, we warn people to keep their dogs 3 feet away from our dog because we're still not always sure how he will react. So, if Joe's dog is off the leash and I can't ask Joe to keep his dog 3 feet away because Joe is just about anywhere else and heck, I don't even know that Joe owns this off-the-leash-dog, that's a problem. At the end of the day, I'm the responsible dog owner, and if there is a dog fight, Joe's dog pays the price.

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theKid 4 years, 8 months ago

I can't remember the last time the owner of an aggressive dog was interviewed (after the attack), who said:

"Yeah. I knew the dog was mean. He does this all the time."

theKid

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Boatperson 4 years, 8 months ago

Lets keep this in perspective. Regardless to wether the dog is nice or mean/vicious the dogs behavior is entirely based upon its training. That which instills the owners responsibility to have the dog in control under any circumstance. I ideal that every human is the same and therefore every dog is well trained would make me insanely stupid. Let me make this clear there are NO I.Q. tests to be a pet owner. The two major reasons for the leash law are: 1.) To secure the environment from endangering other humans. For any reason. 2.) To secure the environment from endangering other animals. Dogs and most importantly WILDLIFE. So if you have a problem with leashing your Dog buy a bigger pack yard to fence them in with. Too many Humans, too many problems with self-righteousness.

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mtnbikr714 4 years, 8 months ago

I have two dogs and take care of lots of others from time to time and they love to play and run off leash. We try to do this around no one else and if others are around we try to ensure that everyone gets along before playtime ensues.

We just do our best to be responsible and respect others. Some people are terrified of dogs. We understand that. We would like to help them with their fears but its our reponsibility to respect them and the laws. We do this to be a good neighbor. Of course we keep them on leash at all times, especially when swimming 50' into the pond. Damn, the leash law states that all leashes must be 6' or less. That means we broke the law that is chosen not to be enforced. I have a friend who broke his femur on the bike path because of a long, retractable leash caused him to wreck his bike.

Ok, we try to be safe and respectful but don't follow the laws perfectly. Can we ride bikes three abreast to the new marijuana dispensary with dogs following, on leash of course.

Pay attention, be kind and respectful and others will learn to do the same, let's hope...

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