Volume No. 16 Issue No. 3 March 2019  

  Runaway dogs a persistent problem
  By Lindsey Harrison

     The "escape artist" behavior of both wolf-dogs and certain breeds of regular dogs can cause problems and safety concerns not only for the owners but also for the neighbors.
   Debi Herriges, a resident of Latigo Trails in eastern El Paso County, said loose dogs are a common occurrence in her subdivision, which is meant to be an equestrian neighborhood, allowing residents to keep horse and ride them throughout the area.
   "Probably, every time we ride our horses, we run into dogs off leashes," she said. "I can be riding with my neighbor on the gravel roads out here and the next thing you know, a dog has jumped their fence and is chasing us. We should not have to worry about that when we are riding."
   Hannah Stockdale, the lead certified veterinary technician at Tender Care Veterinary Center in Falcon, said loose dogs are brought to them often (three or four each week).
   Differing viewpoints on whether the Latigo Trails neighborhood and other subdivisions in the Falcon area have ordinances against letting dogs run loose has caused plenty of upheaval on social media sites, Herriges said.
   But Jamie Norris, captain of animal law enforcement with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, said the ordinances, while perhaps unclear, are what they must follow when it comes to law enforcement.
   "This county is odd because we only provide services to the designated animal control areas of the county," Norris said. "Falcon is not incorporated into that designated animal control area."
   The Pet Animal Control/Dog Licensing Rules and Regulations adopted by El Paso County have sections that do not apply to areas outside of the HSPPR designated animal control area, she said.
   Ultimately, Norris said the ordinances do not make it illegal for a dog to run loose in unincorporated portions of the county, including Falcon. However, if a citizen in those areas catches a stray animal and takes it to the HSPPR, staff will give it appropriate medical attention, research any tags or microchips and attempt to contact the owner, she said.
   "Owners have to pay for those treatments, and there is a cost associated with getting an animal back from the Humane Society," Norris said.
   The problem with the ordinances as they are written now is that they have not kept up with the growth in eastern El Paso County, Norris said. That area used to be rural, and people did not want to have limits on the number of dogs they could have or adhere to licensing requirements, but it is not rural anymore, Norris said.
   "It is going to have to come down to the citizens in that area going to the (EPC) Board of County Commissioners and pushing to have that area become part of our animal control areas," she said. "Of course, there is a cost associated with that."
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