County Tightens Leash On Dog Law

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The leash and barking dog ordinances already in effect in District 1 are now the law throughout Gila County.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors adopted the ordinances at its Jan. 15 meeting effective immediately. Area communities not previously covered by the new laws include Gisela, Rye, Deer Creek, Tonto Basin and Young, local animal control officer Ty Goodman said.

"It's the same law that's been in effect in Mesa del Caballo, Pine and Strawberry," Goodman said. While those communities have been under the leash law for several years, similar regulations were spotty in the rest of the county, County Administrator Steve Besich said.

"There were sections that had an ordinance and sections that didn't in the other two districts," he said.

Goodman, whose territory goes all the way to Roosevelt Dam, welcomes the ordinance. It provides the support he needs to do his job.

"Before, the only way I could pick up dogs in those areas without a leash law was if they weren't licensed, so this should really help," Goodman said.

Most of the complaints he responds to involve dogs at large "dogs getting loose and coming after me."

Under the leash ordinance, which requires that dogs be confined or on a leash, owners of dogs picked up by Goodman are required to pay an impound fee of $15 a day plus $7 a day for board. Repeat offenders can be cited, he said.

Fines range from $50 all the way up to $500, depending in part on how many times the dog has been picked up. Working ranch animals are excluded from the law.

Excessive barking is prohibited under a companion ordinance. Owners whose dogs are determined to be in violation are also subject to fines of up to $500.

"Constable Eddie Armer is the hearing officer, and he determines what the penalties will be if there are complaints," Besich said.

Payson Humane Society Manager Diane Fitzpatrick, whose organization also serves parts of District 2, endorses the countywide approach.

"Leash laws are good because they reduce the number of dogs running free," she said.

Fitzpatrick says it is critical that dogs wear some kind of identification, even if they aren't licensed.

"If there is ID on the dog, we can contact the owner immediately," she said.

Dog licenses can be obtained at the Gila County Health Department, 107 W. Frontier Street, or at the Payson Humane Society, 812 S. McLane Road. The fee is $7 if the dog is neutered or spayed, and $15 otherwise. Proof of rabies vaccination is required.

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