Bark raving mad

County looks at fetching a solution over barking dogs

Keywords: Poll question,

When Montezuma County Commissioners were asked July 23 what it could do to solve the problem of incessantly barking dogs, they decided that this would fall under the already established disturbing-the-peace law.

One week later, Sheriff Dennis Spruell said it would not fall under the statute because of state law.

Spruell explained that since disturbing the peace requires an intent to commit the offense there is no way to know the intent of a dog that barks constantly, and therefore the county at this time does not have anything in place for enforcement.

The sheriff said unlike the county, the city of Cortez does have an ordinance in place where owners could be cited or fined.

Spruell said since people living in the county but outside the city do not have an animal ordinance law, they are voicing their concerns.

“There are a lot of complaints,” Spruell said. “Some people do not care about their neighbors.”

County Administrator Ashton Harrison said the county does have laws on the books that deal with at large and vicious dogs.

Harrison said a resident asked the commission if it would consider adopting a noise ordinance for dogs that constantly barked.

The commission felt there was no need to adopt or look into an ordinance because it thought the disturbing peace law the county had was good enough to handle problems of this nature.

The county administrator said the intent requirement to charge people with disturbing the peace because of the noise dogs are making makes that impossible.

“The sheriff does not think it is appropriate to charge someone with disturbing the peace for this,” he said.

Harrison added he knows the city has something on its books where a Cortez Police officer will enforce its law and take action when it responds to a residence about a barking dog, usually late at night or early in the morning.

“I don’t know what they have in their ordinance,” he said of the city’s code.

The Cortez police incident call logs show that during the last three years there were hundreds of calls for disturbing the peace and a few more for animal nuisance problems.

Harrison said apparently the sheriff thinks something should be adopted and thinks the commission will look into possibly creating a noise ordinance when it comes to animals.

“From my standpoint more discussion needs to happen before applying anything to nuisance dogs,” Harrison said.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com