Dog ordinance scofflaws take heed – dog owners who break the rules may be ticketed and fined for transgressions.
The Waitsfield Select Board is considering revisions to its dog ordinance that would allow the town dog warden to issue some sort of ticket and fine to owners whose dogs are at large or are unregistered and to owners who violate other sections of the ordinance.
At its August 8 meeting, the board discussed dog issues and whether it would be possible to create a system of ticketing and fines that would be handled locally, rather than through the state court system. The board is not keen on the idea of a ticketing and fine system that would go through the Vermont judicial bureau and asked Town Administrator Valerie Capels to explore how other towns ticket and fine dog owners.
The board also discussed changes to the ordinance that specify the types of infractions for which dog owners may be fined. Dogs must be licensed and that license must be on the dog’s collar. Dogs are not to run at large, unless the dog owner is hunting and has the dog under control, or the dog is being trained and is under the owner’s control or is on public or private lands where dogs are allowed off leash.
Proposed revisions to the ordinance include having the dog warden impound dogs that are at large and holding owners who do not redeem their dog accountable for all fees and charges in a civil action. Under the proposed changes, dogs won’t be released until the fees are paid. In any six-month period, the first offense would cost $50, the second offense would be $75 and the third $100.
Additionally, dog owners would be responsible for paying boarding fees at the pound equivalent to $25 for the first day and $15 for each additional day. For pick-up after 6 p.m. or on weekends, the dog owner would pay an extra charge of $50.
The board is also considering changes that prohibit dogs from damaging property or livestock, habitually bark or disturb the peace, or defecate on lands other than those of the owner, unless the owner removes the waste. The board may add a specific section that mandates that owners pick up after their dogs.
At the same meeting, the board met with dog warden Marie Leotta and Fayston resident Zachary Barkan. Barkan wrote a formal complaint to the select board about an altercation that occurred at the Mad Marathon when Leotta approached him about his dog.
The board discussed the interaction between the two parties but did not move forward with a formal quasi-judicial hearing on the issue. The board deferred discussion of a dog issue on Kingsbury Road until one of the dog owners can be present.