Community weighs in on town animal code

As Castle Rock reviews the rules, pit bull ban drawing attention

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Glenda Martinez attended an open house hosted by the Town of Castle Rock on April 11 to talk leash laws.

The event was held to showcase potential revisions to the town's 25-year-old animal code. For Martinez, it was a chance to communicate concern over dog owners' use of trails near her home in the area of Douglas County High School. Dogs are frequently unleashed, she said, and too many pet owners don't pick up dog waste.

“That's the biggest deal,” she said, before noting another issue that caught her eye at the event.

“The pit bull banto me is just silly,” Martinez said.

Castle Rock continued taking steps toward reviewing and updating its animal code — which is due for council consideration in May — and although the entire animal code is under review, the town's breed-specific ban barring pit bulls has come to the forefront of discussion.

The animal code open house had people lined up at the door and filling seats at town hall. Town staff estimated 140 people came to the informal event in which staff members were available to answer questions and gather public input. The town also received more than 150 comment forms submitted online.

Council still hopes to review the animal code in May, but the volume of community feedback could delay those discussions, a town spokeswoman said.

Many residents who attended April 11 said they came to learn about provisions of specific interest to them, and to voice their hopes for the updated code.

Emily and Travis Wrenn, who moved to Castle Rock in September from Littleton, said they came to the open house to learn more about the livestock restrictions. The couple owns a dog and chickens on their quarter-acre property, but would like to add a goat to the mix.

As of now, the animal code does not mention chickens, and the Wrenns want to make sure the animals stay permissible.

“We don't want to lose them,” Emily Wrenn said.

The couple also said they oppose the pit bull ban.

“Definitely think they should lift the breed ban,” Travis Wrenn said. “The enforcement on aggressive animals is enough.”

Although the pit bull ban wasn't the top issue for Martinez and the Wrenns, it was what got Karen and Robert Akins out for the event. The two said they'd like to see the ban lifted.

“It's not the breed, it's how they're raised,” Robert Akins said.

Guiding attendees at the open house were large boards throughout the room highlighting various sections of the animal code and its proposed changes. While some walked from board to board asking questions, others sat at tables filling out input sheets that asked for comment on the animal code.

Questions for the public spanned the length of the code. They included:

• How long should a dog be allowed to bark before complaints are made?

• How many dogs and cats should be permitted per residence? Should they be licensed?

• Hooved animals — such as horses, cattle and swine — are currently prohibited, but should certain livestock be allowed?

• Should Castle Rock keep a breed-specific ban that bars pit bull ownership in town limits?

• Should the town move to a two-tiered system by classifying sanctioned animals as either dangerous or potentially dangerous, further enabling case-by-case assessment of incidents?

Throughout the event, animal control officer Dave Hutchings stood near the board providing information on pet licensing, but said he heard feedback on numerous topics.

Mostly, he said, he heard comment on leash laws, breed-specific bans and the classification of dangerous animals. And, he said, the feedback was welcomed.

“That's the information,” Hutchings said, “we are looking for.”

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