Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bellevue discusses dog problems

Area resident asks for help controlling roving canines

Express Staff Writer

Tom Riney has had enough.

Riney, a Muldoon Canyon resident, used a Bellevue City Council meeting as a platform to rail last Thursday against what he says is a dangerous problem: packs of domestic dogs roaming at large.

Riney recently lost one of his horses to an alleged attack by two such roving dogs.

The horse, a miniature breed, was killed in the early afternoon of Oct. 2 after the dogs apparently burrowed under a fence to get into a pasture. Two other animals belonging to Riney—a miniature horse and a burro—were also injured when the dogs reportedly tore at their heads.

One of the dogs involved in the incident—a pit bull—was shot and killed at the scene of the carnage. The other dog—a black Labrador mixed-breed—was caught and later euthanized at the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

As bad as the death of his horse was, however, Riney told the City Council that things could get much worse if nothing is done to control the canine problem in Bellevue.

"The next time, it's going to be a kid here in Bellevue," he predicted.

Riney also questioned the council's recent focus on land-use matters.

"Maybe the priorities of the council are screwed up," he said, suggesting the Bellevue dog problem deserved more attention.

"I'm out there killing dogs," he said. "It's ridiculous that I'm being placed in this situation."

His anger at the incident aside, Riney said the city of Bellevue isn't entirely to blame. He said the policies of the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley are in need of reform. For now, the animal shelter's policy is to charge Bellevue whenever a dog owner doesn't arrive to pick up their dog after the city marshal's office has caught it and dropped it off.

"That's stupid. That's just plain stupid," Riney said.

Additional blame should also be placed on dog owners who let their dogs run loose when they're at work, he added.

"Nobody takes responsibility for their actions," Riney said.

Although acknowledging the slim budget Bellevue must operate on, Riney suggested the city hire an animal control officer. Bellevue voters also need to vote for greater city funding, he added.

Riney's concerns fell on sympathetic ears at Bellevue City Hall.

"I'm really sorry for your loss," Bellevue Mayor Jon Anderson said. "It's really sad people can't be more responsible with their dogs."

Anderson promised Riney that the city would look into ways to address the dog problem.

In other Bellevue news:

- The City Council approved the creation of a new Bellevue Avalanche Overlay District and the regulations that will govern the district. The city can now require developers to fund site-specific avalanche studies prior to gaining approval for their projects.

- In a tie-breaking vote, Mayor Jon Anderson voted "no" on a proposed demolition ordinance to give city staff and the City Council more time to discuss several unresolved issues related to the new ordinance.

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