"Do ruffle the feathers"
Following discussion over vicious dogs, Encampment Town Council encourages residents to call law enforcement
September 23, 2020
by Dana Davis
Mayor Greg Salisbury was unable to attend the Encampment Town Council meeting on September 9, 2020. Councilmember Bill Craig acted as mayor pro-tem.
After the expedient approval of the agenda, minutes, financials and bills, several guest speakers were heard.
Sandy Martin gave an update on a Carbon County Visitors Council (CCVC) Project. Three signs around Encampment are being repainted. Maretin requested one sign that contains the community slogan “where nature waits to greet you” be cut out of metal. The council asked for a quote to be done.
Yvonne Johnson, the new executive director of the Carbon County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) was the next speaker. Johnson introduced herself. She lived in Carbon County for nearly 40 years. The last seven years she lived in Florida but moved back for this opportunity. Johnson also said that she is looking forward to finding out what is happening in the area.
Dan Jago petitioned the council to approve his building permit for a shade structure for his horse pasture. The Planning Commission had referred him to the town council due to an ordinance that does not allow a shed without a main building on premises.
The town council approved the application as long as the structure is strictly used for agricultural purposes.
The next guest speaker was Rachel Swanson, who was there to talk to the town council about vicious and nuisance dogs. Swanson relayed her experiences. Recently, there had been a pack of dogs running around town. The dogs came into her yard where her children and cat were on the porch. The dogs attacked the cat on the porch in front of the kids.
Swanson recalled another incident. When her son was only two years old, a dog charged him in their own yard. Swanson felt that if she had not been there, the boy probably would have been attacked.
In another instance of a dog on the loose, Swanson said that she had been carrying in groceries and left the hatch open on her vehicle. When she returned for the rest of her groceries, a dog had jumped into her vehicle and ate all the meat she had just purchased.
Swanson is also concerned as a preschool teacher. Dogs have been coming into the lawn where the kids play.
Swanson also communicated an incident of an elderly lady in the area who had broken her wrist when a dog entered her yard and charged at her. The elderly lady didn’t want to “ruffle any feathers” and therefore, had not called the police.
Councilmember Shannon Fagan said, “I would like to apologize, I’m so sorry for what happened. It was very dramatic for your family, your boys. What a terrible experience. … I do agree we do need to increase fines for vicious dogs. It needs to be made a point that it is not ok to have a vicious dog. We do have a running at large prohibitive law which includes vicious and nuisance. So, we do have laws intact to keep you and your family safe. And please, do ruffle the feathers. That is why we have laws and ordinances. People need to feel safe to call law enforcement.”
Fagan went on to say, “Owners also need to take accountability. The owners of the dogs need to be cited and responsible for any vet bills. Not just dogs, but all animals (on the loose) that have ownership. It doesn’t have to be vicious. It could be nuisance, like the dog that climbed into your vehicle, that was a hardship. You should call law enforcement because there is a law for it.”
There was discussion around what is considered vicious or running at large, Swanson questioned what the definition was. Police Chief Kevin Shue replied by reading from Encampment municipal code 6.08.080, “the term ‘vicious dog’ is defined to be any dog which attacks or rushes, bites, snaps, growls or snarls at or otherwise menaces persons, other animals, or vehicles in any public or private place outside of the premises of its owner or keeper, or shows a disposition to do any of the foregoing, without provocation or excuse.”
Shue later said, “ the animal would have to create damage to private property so trespassing doesn’t necessarily make it a nuisance. You have to go into the definitions, that is where the problem lies, I have to abide by that.”
Swanson said that she supported efforts that Shue was putting in place to help with the situation but asked the council if the wording of the coding can be re-examined after enforcing the codes for a while. The council agreed this would be a reasonable compromise.
Later in the meeting resolution 2020-10 was passed. This resolution establishes a bond schedule for vicious dogs/dogs at large, raising fine amounts to cover the town’s expenses. The increase in cost will cover Shue’s time in taking the animals to Rawlins and court fees.
Jon Nelson, North Fork Engineering, was there to give an update on the lagoon improvement project. He provided the council with a draft for a request for bids for a mechanical bar screen procurement. Nelson then provided the council with pros and cons of purchasing the machinery from a contractor verses purchasing directly from the manufacturer. The town council voted to run an advertisement to request bids.
Bids for a new police vehicle were then opened. The lowest bid came from Dallin Motors in Rawlins with a 2021 Dodge Ram 1500 SSV for $28,983. A bid from Chrystler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram of West Vallly, UT contained higher bids but the vehicles included light packages. The town council decided to take time to review the bids to make sure they are appropriate.
The next meeting of the Encampment Town Council will be on October 8, 2020 at the Encampment Town Hall.