PUEBLO — Changes to several laws regarding animals in Pueblo could be coming soon. Animal Law Enforcement says some of the laws haven't been updated in years.
Potential changes include harsher penalties for animal cruelty and creating a "potentially dangerous animal" charge so there can be additional avenues to address dangerous animals.
New regulations will include: (i) the creation of a “potentially dangerous animal” charge, which is a lesser offense than “vicious animal” and provides additional avenues to address dangerous animals; (ii) a new class of license for “multiple animals” that is not specific to cats and dogs, and limits on the number of animals without such a license; (iii) clearer authority for the powers and roles of animal control officers; (iv) greater protections against the spread of rabies; (v) slightly increased fees to address the increased cost of impoundment and care; and (vi) additional crimes constituting “cruelty to animals.”
"These revisions that are being brought forward are not only important to us but also the community as a whole, and that we really want to raise the level of responsible pet ownership in our community," Lindsey Vigna with Animal Law Enforcement said.
Under the proposed ordinance, anyone convicted as a 'habitual offender' for dangerous or potentially dangerous animals may be prevented from possessing animals for up to one year.
A dangerous animal is defined as, "any animal that without provocation bites or attacks a human being or another animal, either on public or private property, and causes serious bodily injury" or "any animal that, in a vicious or terrorizing manner, approaches any person in apparent attitude of attack upon the streets, sidewalks or public grounds or places."
The proposal also includes provisions regarding vaccinations:
- Every owner of a dog four months old or older shall have such dog vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. If a dog four months old or older, whose owner is a nonresident, shall remain within the City for more than thirty days, it shall be vaccinated in accordance with the provisions.
- Every owner of a cat four months old or older shall have such cat vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. If a cat four months old or older, whose owner is a nonresident, shall remain within the City for more than thirty days, it shall be vaccinated in accordance with the provisions.
- Every owner of a ferret four months old or older shall have such ferret vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. If a ferret four months old or older, whose owner is a nonresident, shall remain within the City for more than thirty days, it shall be vaccinated in accordance with the provisions.
- A veterinarian, with the written consent of an animal's owner, may issue a written exemption waiving the requirement that an animal be vaccinated from rabies if the veterinarian, in his or her professional opinion, determines that the rabies vaccination is contraindicated due to the animal's health.
- It shall be unlawful and a Class 2 municipal offense for any [dog or cat] animal owner required by this Section to have his or her animal vaccinated to fail to have said animal so vaccinated or obtain a written exemption from vaccination.
Additionally, anyone who has more than four dogs on their premises must have a kennel license, otherwise they could be cited for a nuisance. The same would be true for owning more than 4 cats, except on land zoned for agricultural use or if combined with a cattery license.
Under the proposal, it would be against city code to have more than 8 animals in total on "a premises at any one time, unless the land is zoned agricultural, without having a multiple animal license."
The restrictions on applications for a kennel, cattery, or multiple animal license must include a petition signed by 75% of people living within 300 feet of the location, a non-refundable fee of $100, and a hearing with the Health Department that will consider if granting the license will prevent a nuisance and is compatible for the zoning in the area.
On the subject of cruelty, the proposal allows for restrictions on tethering an animal for more than four hours in any 24-hour period, or for more than 30 minutes in poor weather defined as above 90 degrees or below 40 degrees. "Animals shall not be tethered outside during persistent rain, sleet, hail, or snow, or other dangerous conditions."
Animals would need to be kept on a tether of at least ten foot, no less than 6 feet from a property line, sidewalk, right-of-way.
Other provisions include no ownership of more than 2 potbellied pigs, that cannot weigh more than 100 lbs each; no more than 2 domesticated miniature goats which must be vaccinated, dehorned (or debudded), and spayed or neutered if over 2 months old.
Pueblo City Council will have to approve any changes. You can read the entire 28-page document here.