Refining leash laws prove difficult
Ryan Summerlin June 20, 2014
Governing can be hard.
County Council was presented three options for new leash laws by the Leash Law Task Force at Wednesday’s weekly meeting at the Sheldon Richins Building, and the only thing apparent after more than 90 minutes of discussion was that agreeing on a leash law among five members can be among the hardest parts of governing.
No formal recommendations were made by the end, but the Task Force, led by Councilwoman Kim Carson and Director of Human Resources and Animal Control Brian Bellamy, was asked to go back and tweak the second of three proposals, which most of the Council seemed to favor.
The three options presented were, according to a PowerPoint presentation:
No. 1 — Dog is required to have a Summit County license, which is no change from the current program. The license makes the canine eligible for all approved off-leash areas, but dogs must be under sight and voice control at all times, and the owners assume any and all liability.
No. 2 — At the time of dog licensure an annual "off-leash tag" may be purchased. This tag makes the dog eligible for all approved off-leash areas. The pet owner is required to sign a liability waiver and agree to abide by all rules and regulations associated with the use of the off-leash areas. The funds received from this tag will be used to offset maintenance and/or enforcement. The tag may be revoked if the dog misbehaves, is aggressive or is not under voice control. If a dog’s tag is revoked, the dog and owner must successfully complete dog-training sessions. The tag may then be purchased in a subsequent year with proof of completion of an approved training program.
No. 3 — At the time of licensure an "off-leash tag" may be purchased if the dog has successfully passed a test for voice control and behavior. Testing may be offered through qualified dog trainers, and some equivalents will be accepted.
While the council expressed support for the second proposal — Councilman Roger Armstrong said he was "not buying the status quo" — the issues of enforcement and education dominated the conversation. Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds also said he was not in favor of keeping the status quo, but said adding more already-overworked deputies to guarantee enforcement would be difficult.
The task force highlighted the need for more bodies in animal control, which in 2005 had eight full-time positions; in 2014, there are only five. In addition, Bellamy has been sharing the duties of both director of personnel and animal control. After the meeting, Bellamy said, "I can’t give [the animal control staff] as much time as I’d like. They need somebody there who can move them to the next level."
"Regardless of what we do, we need to add additional staffing," Carson said.
The task force will refine the second proposal and bring it back to the council for discussion on either the July 9 or July 16 meeting. The laws will also be discussed at the June 23 joint meeting of the Summit County Council and Park City Council.
County Manager Bob Jasper said adding more animal control officers can be something that the council can recommend when budget development begins in the late summer.