A dog's life is going to get a lot tougher if the Payson Town Council approves proposed changes to the barking dog ordinance.
Language revisions presented to the council for a first reading last Thursday evening would make it easier for animal control to impound or cite the owners of animals who are deemed to be a nuisance.
"What we attempted to do with this ordinance was focus on the barking dogs and primarily get rid of the requirement that a dog has to bark all night incessantly and continuously before our police officers are able to do something to alleviate the problem," Town Attorney Sam Streichman told the council.
The revised ordinance changes "disturbing noises" to just "noises" and drops the phrase "causing unreasonable annoyance, disturbance or discomfort to neighbors or others in close proximity to the premises where the animal is kept or harbored." It also deletes language that defines "continuous and incessant barking" as "barking which continues for more than one hour."
In its place, Streichman has inserted, "in such a manner as to disturb the peace and quiet of any neighborhood or any one or more persons, or to deprive such neighborhood or persons of the quiet enjoyment of their property."
Councilor Robert Henley questioned whether the Payson Humane Society should be exempted from the ordinance by placing it in a category with such activities or businesses as hunting, ranching, pet shops and veterinary clinics.
"I'm willing to give them some flexibility, but I don't want to say you can just do anything you want so that they've got 100 dogs that are just sitting out there yapping in chorus with the crowing roosters at daybreak, and we have absolutely nothing to help us with that situation," Henley said.
Streichman promised to look into the exemption before the council heard a second reading of the proposed ordinance.
"Our intention when we came into this was to target the residential areas," he said. "In between now and when we bring it back, let us ponder over that and see if we can't develop a set of restrictions."
Streichman also said he plans to expand the reach of the ordinance sometime in the future.
"What we set out to do with this was just to give people relief from dogs barking," he said. "We'll worry about cockatoos later."
Other council business
Also on the agenda Thursday was a presentation on lead and copper monitoring of the town's water supply by Water Quality Specialist Karen Probert. She assured the council that all samples obtained through repeated rounds of testing have indicated that lead and copper levels are below the standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
An article earlier this month in the Washington Post claimed that negligence in "collecting, reporting and responding to tests" and manipulation of test results by "cities across the country" are putting million of Americans at risk.
The council also approved a request from the Rim Country Classic Auto Club to close a portion of West Main Street April 30 for the 12th Annual Beeline Cruise-In and Charity Car Show.
Town open house Saturday
The first annual Town of Payson Open House will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Nov. 6.
Each of the town's departments, from police to community development, will be open to help residents learn more about town government. Department heads and other staff members will be in their offices to answer questions, provide office tours, handle complaints, and be available if residents need or want to talk about anything to do with town government.
At 10 a.m. in the council chambers, staff geologist, Mike Ploughe, will discuss the process of searching for groundwater. Mayor Barbara Brewer and town council members will schedule office appointments between 9 a.m. and noon.