The Summit County Council decided to postpone making any changes to the county's leash laws at its weekly meeting Wednesday but made one substantive recommended change to the animal control ordinance.
The Council tackled the entire ordinance along with the leash laws -- the latter which has been wrestled with for months -- during a 90-minute discussion of how the County wanted to enact a leash law with more bite.
At one point, County Chair Chris Robinson bemoaned the leash law issue, which was politely debated among the council members. "It's harder than rocket science," he said.
At a June meeting, Councilmembers voiced support for a change in the leash law that would require dogs in off-leash areas, such as at one of the three county dog parks, to have a second tag in addition to a license. But the added layer of complexity brought a response by Director of Animal Control Brian Bellamy (who doubles as the county's director of personnel).
"We cannot do this if we don't staff up," he told the Council. "We're not providing the service we should be providing."
In 2005, the animal control department had eight full-time staffers. Today, the department has only five, and Bellamy said his staff doesn't have enough time to respond to emergent needs as much as he and they would like.
County Manager Bob Jasper added that the county doesn't have animal control personnel to go to dog parks to check to see that a second, off-leash tag is being worn by all the dogs.
The leash laws will be tabled in favor of a more educational approach (such as signs at dog parks) until the animal control department can add more manpower. Bellamy said after the meeting he would be requesting funding for two more animal control employees when the department's budget requests are due in August.
If more employees are added, then the county can revisit leash laws in 2015, Council decided.
As for the animal control ordinance, the Council expressed support for a number of changes to the existing law, which hadn't been looked at since its 2011 refinement.
The most important change would be changing the time period for licensing animals from every year to every three years, so that its falls in line with rabies vaccinations, which require boosters every three years.
"This is a good thing," said Summit County Public Information Officer Julie Booth, who is heading up the county's animal control education efforts. "It makes everyone's lives easier."
Deputy County Attorney Helen Strachan will address changes to the ordinance and bring them to the Council with a pubic hearing sometime in August, she said.
In other business, the Tollgate Canyon areas were withdrawn from the Wildland Fire Service Area and annexed into the boundaries of the North Summit Fire Service District, a move that residents of the area previously petitioned for.