The city's animal ordinance, which had not been reviewed or revised since 2009, has been revamped by a committee consisting of the police chief, local veterinarians and a community member.
The result is an ordinance that reflects "best practices" regarding rabies vaccinations, animal quarantines, and the ordinance itself, Chief Robert Thomas explained at a recent work session.
Dr. Gretta Carmichael and Jill Jurca, the two most faithful committee members, joined the discussion about changes to the ordinance.
Dr. Carmichael, a veterinarian, said Colorado has been considered a non-rabies state but that is changing rapidly. Animals on the Front Range are coming down with rabies more and more frequently, she said. The city needs to protect itself, its citizens and their pets.
To that end, owners applying for a city license must show proof of a current rabies vaccination for their animal.
The ordinance previously stated certificates of vaccination would be good for 12 months. At Dr. Carmichael's suggestion, the certificate will reflect the duration specified by the manufacturer of the vaccine, which can vary.
Every dog or cat over the age of six months must be licensed. Licenses are available at the Delta Police Department at a cost of $25 per animal (up from $5). Licenses are valid for the life of the pet, unless there is a change in ownership.
Homeowners are restricted to four dogs and cats in any combination. No animal known to be wild or undomesticated may be kept within city limits.
A vicious animal is defined as any animal that, without provocation, bites or attacks persons or other animals; approaches any person or other animal with vicious or terrorizing behavior or an apparent attitude of attack, whether or not the attack is consummated or is capable of being consummated; or has acted in a manner that causes or should cause its owner or custodian to know that the animal is potentially vicious. Exceptions are made for animals inside their place of residence when unlawful entry has been gained, or when the animal's owner is being threatened.
Dr. Carmichael said it can be difficult to determine when a dog is vicious; city manager Justin Clifton said that's where the courts come in. Provocation is one issue the court, or animal control officer, may need to sort through. Owner behavior is also a factor.
Barking dogs are just one type of nuisance animal. The ordinances also addresses dogs that chase other animals, damage property, or are running at large. Any habitual violation of the ordinance is considered a nuisance.
Confinement, quarantines, cruelty and abandonment are also addressed in the ordinance. A lengthy new section is devoted to the dog park. The attendant/owner must be 18 or older, within the fence, within 75 feet of the dog, and be able to control and recall the dog at all times. Dogs must be legally licensed with up-to-date vaccinations. Every dog must wear a collar which displays its current license and vaccination tags.
The topic of feral cats crops up occasionally at council meetings, although no time was spent discussing the issue during the work session.
The ordinance recognizes the role of feral cat caretakers who are dedicated "to limiting interactions between feral cats and humans, and to controlling the growth of feral cat colonies through a humane process of feeding, trapping, neutering, vaccinating and returning the individual members of such a colony."
Any person who desires to be recognized as a bona fide feral cat caretaker must register with the Delta Police Department. Each registered caretaker must submit semi-annual written reports to Delta's animal control division which describe the approximate size, location and general description of each feral cat colony being managed and which recite date-specific events of sterilization, vaccination and control of each feral cat being managed. All feral cats that have been sterilized and vaccinated shall identified by through the process of ear tipping.
According to the ordinance, "The purpose of this section is to enable a practical alternative to indiscriminate destruction of free-roaming feral cats (unless the animal has been declared a nuisance or declared destroyed by the municipal court)."
Council members made a few suggestions for revisions to the ordinance, which came before council for first reading June 4.blog comments powered by Disqus