Council Puts Bite On Barking Dog Ordinance

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Payson Humane Society officials and their friends plan to protest proposed changes to the barking dog ordinance at the Payson Town Council meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday.

"We're trying to get it out to everybody," Carol Stubbs, who provides legal advice to the shelter, said. "We're going to get a good turnout."

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Payson Humane Society officials are upset because their dogs can be cited for barking while the ones at Furry Friends next door are exempt from the town's barking dog ordinance.

Stubbs and the others are upset because the proposed ordinance continues to exempt for-profit pet businesses while subjecting the humane society to prosecution.

"Guess what, (they've) done it to us again," Stubbs said. "It is just the same as it was: ‘activities involving the possession, training, exhibition or use of a dog in the otherwise lawful pursuits of hunting, ranching, farming, rodeos, shows, exhibitions, racing, and the lawful operation of veterinary clinics, pet shops, kennels and law enforcement animals shall be exempt.'

"So (they're) still trying to screw us over. The humane society is subject to prosecution and Furry Friends next door is not."

When a similar ordinance was presented to the council in October, Sam Streichman, town attorney, proposed exempting the humane society from the ordinance along with the for-profit dog businesses.

When several councilors objected, Streichman offered to review their concerns and return with a new version in January

Shelter officials argued that it was unfair to single them out, especially when many of the dogs in their care were brought in because they were in violation of the barking dog ordinance.

"You want to cite the humane society when we have no choice but to take dogs that the town picks up because they're barking," Stubbs told Town Manager Fred Carpenter at a meeting of the Citizens Awareness Committee, a political watchdog group, in November.

Humane society officials also were frustrated because their attempts to build a new, state-of-the-art shelter which would be virtually noise-free have been stymied by zoning restrictions and the opposition of nearby residents wherever they have tried to purchase land.

The proposed new ordinance also makes it tough on private dog owners by removing language that requires "noises" to be "continued and continuous and incessant" and which implies the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. are the most onerous.

Instead, dog owners will be cited for noises "including but not limited to repeated howling, barking, whining or other utterances."

The proposed ordinance also excludes the word "repeatedly" so an owner can be cited the first time his or her dog is "found running at large." It also redefines "public nuisance animal" to include any animal that "soils, defiles or defecates on any property other than that of its owner," or "that causes fouling of the air by noxious or offensive odors."

Carpenter explained the rationale for the tougher ordinance.

"We get complaints from time to time from all around town and the police go out there and they don't feel they have the enforcement tools right now to really help them," he said. "This is an attempt to do that more than anything."

Also on Thursday's agenda is a presentation by an ad hoc citizens group on the possible creation of a design review program.

"They're asking that standards be set for Main Street, (Highway) 260 and (Highway) 87," Carpenter said. "There would be some criteria on certain styles and designs and certain amounts of landscaping."

The Mogollon Sporting Association will also present the town with a check for $2,800 for half the cost of a set of bleachers at the Rumsey Park soccer field.

Highlights of an extensive consent agenda (all of which will be passed with a single, blanket motion unless individual items are "pulled" by a council member) include:

  • A resolution establishing a Martin Luther King Jr. town holiday to replace individual employee birthday holidays.
  • A resolution executing an agreement with Dorothy Little making her the town magistrate.
  • Authorization to lease two new copy machines for 36 months at a cost considerably less than the town is currently paying for two older machines.

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