Brighton tackle some animal issues

Ordinance change allows goats while city tweaks rules for tethering and microchipping dogs and vaccinating pigs

Scott Taylor
staylor@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/8/21

Brighton dogs will be required to have locating chips and potbellied pigs will need rabies vaccines as part of a set of changes City Councilors considered Feb. 2. In other business, Councilors gave …

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Brighton tackle some animal issues

Ordinance change allows goats while city tweaks rules for tethering and microchipping dogs and vaccinating pigs

Posted

Brighton dogs will be required to have locating chips and potbellied pigs will need rabies vaccines as part of a set of changes City Councilors considered Feb. 2.

In other business, Councilors gave final approval to a rule change letting residents keep miniature goats.

Councilors reviewed a raft of changes to city codes about animals.

Police Commander Doug Imfeld said discussions of the animal code changes began in 2019, based on complaints the city received regarding tying up dogs.

“A citizen had approached us concerning tethering animals, and they were quite comprehensive about some of the changes they thought we should make,” Imfeld said. “So we took the opportunity to begin looking at other parts of our animal code and also, later on, code enforcement.”

The new rule requires dogs tethered outside have collars, not just chains around their necks. At the other end, the tether must be connected to something that swivels, allowing the dog to move without winding the tether up and trapping the animal.

“That’s what got this all started in 2019,” Imfeld said. “With the ordinance we are proposing, we are setting clear standards for when animals can be tethered, consistent with the American Kennel Club recommendations. The new standards are more humane for the animals. You can’t just take a chain and hook it around your dog’s neck.”

The requirement that all dogs have microchips embedded under their skin should help reunite owners and strays more quickly, he said.

“Frequently, we will go out for a dog running at large and the animal control officers pick it up,” Imfeld said. “If they are familiar with it, we can at least make the attempt to return it its owner. But if we are not familiar or the owner is unavailable, we have to transfer it to the Riverdale Animal shelter, which takes that officer out of the city while the process the intake.”

Un-chipped dogs taken to the county animal shelter will be chipped going forward. Owners that come to collect their animals there afterward will need to pay $25 for that chip, as well as other current fees and stray dog penalties.

“Each officer will have a reader in the vehicle and can try to return the animal directly and then talked about strategies so that animal does not get out,” Imfeld said. “The other benefit is at the shelter. We have no way of knowing where the dog belongs if does not have a collar, until the owner calls. But if we have the microchip in there, we can at least try to get in touch with the owner.”

Potbellied pigs would need to have rabies vaccinations under the new rules, Imfeld said.

“That is not a new domestic animal we are writing in,” he said. “Pot Bellied pigs are allowed by our municipal code, but we are now adding language talking about having them vaccinated.”

The new code dispenses with a line saying that pets must be vaccinated by a certain date.

“Now, we want to make it simple,” he said. “If you have a dog, a cat or a pot-bellied pig in the city limits, they must have a current vaccination. That’s pretty clear for folks to understand.”

Councilors voted unanimously to support the new changes on first reading. They’ll take up the matter again later this month.

Goats get the yes

A plan to let Brighton residents keep goats on their property received final approval from the council at the Feb. 2 meeting. According to the new miniature goats pilot program, residents with 7,500 square foot lots of larger can keep two of the animals — not fewer and not more — and both must be females. And since it’s a two-year pilot program, they must be prepared to surrender the animals if the City Council decides to end it in 2023.

Councilors have been discussing the idea for more than a year. It came up in 2019 after Ward 2 resident Jennifer Council, who owned goats, received a notice that she had to get rid of them. After debating the idea for a year, the city polled residents and found most who responded favored allowing goats. According to the survey, which was made public in October, those opposed to the idea were concerned about enforcement, smell, goat owner education and noise, among others.

Only ten residents will be allowed in the program. The city will issue $100 permits that will be distributed through a lottery system if more than ten residents are interested in keeping the animals.

Goats must be females and can only be kept in pairs, can be no taller than 24.5 inches at the tallest point of the back and must be disbudded. That’s a process that burns off the tissue that grows into horns.

Brighton goats must have up-to-date rabies vaccines and on-site slaughtering or breeding operations are not allowed. Only single-family detached properties can keep goats, as long as the property owner agrees. The goat keepers must apply for a permit with the city, which will conduct two inspections — one of the pen and shelter for the animals and a second of the animals to meet the city’s requirements.

Goat keepers will also have to take an open-book test on keeping the animals, getting a score of at least 80%.

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