12/07/2005: "SJC Dog Ordinance To Get Some Teeth"
At the BOCC meeting on Tuesday (12-6-05) Commissioner Bob Myhr expressed concerns to his fellow Commissioners that when the so-called Dog Ordinance was last rewritten, the financial penalties portion had been removed, and that he had received a number of calls from citizens who believed there should be some financial loss to a dog owner for allowing a dog to run at will. He went on to say that, at least on Lopez, sheep kills from dogs were still a problem, and so would like to discuss the issue.
The Commissioners agreed that a fine may be necessary to "get the attention" of owners who habitually violate the regulation, and asked Randy Gaylord if there was any reason to not move in that direction. Gaylord said that it would be a simple matter to add language to the ordinance that would allow the sheriff to "ticket" offenders.
Commissioner Ranker expressed concern that the Board did not want to go after someone who had simply lost control of their dog for a moment when they were, for example, walking it on the shoreline, but agreed with Lichter and Myhr that there is an ongoing problem with sheep and wildlife kills and injuries from dogs running at large. An opinion that was shared by Jim Lawrence of San Juan Island, who told the Board that he has lost a large number of sheep over the years to attacks from dogs, and that the losses can make the difference between a profit and a loss for the season.
After further discussion, it was decided to change the law to allow the sheriff to use his discretion in issuing a first offense ticket, and the Board instructed Gaylord to begin the necessary steps to add new language to the law.