Residents voice dog ordinance objections

SAGUACHE — Saguache residents voiced their dissatisfaction with a recently enforced ordinance that currently requires residents with more than four dogs to find new homes for their four-legged friends within the year or be cited for violating the ordinance.
Saguache resident Sky Wright has worked with animals for many years. She owns 10 dogs and two of them currently are being trained to become service dogs. She wrote a letter to the town explaining her dilemma and the board discussed the letter Tuesday night.
“I’ve been here nine years,” Wright told Mayor Greg Terrell. “All the town clerks during that time have collected money for 10 dogs. I called and spoke to Linda and she said that the regulation says you can only have four dogs and in a year you have to get rid of the others.”
Those breeding dogs can have up to 10 puppies from birth up to eight weeks.
Terrell told Wright it is up to the board to decide how to enforce the ordinance. She then told the board she feels her operation should be grandfathered. “There’s the two service dogs and the rest are rescued dogs with special disabilities that need meds. These dogs would have to be put down” if she was not able to keep them, Wright said.
She told he board she has had no one complain about her dogs all these years and the dogs are not allowed to run. Town manager Pam Fye, however, said she has received many calls form various citizens complaining about dogs, but not necessarily Wright’s.
The town has had problems for years with dogs biting residents and running at large, especially at night. Not long ago the town was forced to rewrite another ordinance to clarify how dangerous dogs were to be handled.
One town resident complained that it was unfair to require Wright to give up her dogs and said the ordinance punishes responsible dog owners. Another resident suggested maybe the town needs to create its own shelter to address the dog problem and said a good number of people would support it.
A third citizen asked if any permits were available for those who wished to start a boarding kennel. Few such kennels are available in the Valley.
Town attorney Karen Lintott explained that the ordinance was on the town books until 2015 but was never enforced until recently. She advised that the town redraft the ordinance, decide if any changes need to be made and reissue it.
“We’ll leave it to your discretion,” Lintott told the board. “It’s an enforcement issue.”
Mayor Terrell then told those attending the meeting the board would need to table the matter and they should wait for the redraft. “It’s all about responsible and irresponsible animal owners,” he announced. The next regular board meeting is Aug. 8 at 6 p.m.

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