PARK CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Summit County Animal Control has seen an increase in dog biting incidents at it’s parks and recreational trails. But new policies and regulations passed by the Summit County Council back in December could help change all that.
Just last week, Animal Control Director Brian Bellamy said they had at least three reports of dog biting incidents, “We got three last weekend, and its mainly, its mainly people on trails or they could be in parks. We had one where the dog was just in the neighborhood and bit somebody. ”
Park City resident, Steven Parker, enjoys hiking Rail Trail with his dog ‘Flint’ and say he has witnessed several occasions where dogs are not on leashes and even has had a few run-ins himself.
“I’ve had a dog attempting to have a run in with my dog, and I actually put my dog on a leash and I asked the gentleman if he could do something about his dog because he was being aggressive, and he said ‘no, my dog can handle himself,” said Parker.
Summit County Officials say in previous years they had to make cuts to the staff due to the recession, which strained animal control resources but the council has recently cleaned up the city ordinances and solidified a leash law. Summit County also allocated money during the 2015 budget process to help improve the functionality of the department.
In a statement released to Good 4 Utah, Summit County Council Chair said,
“We are in the process of hiring personnel and equipment, along with remodeling the Animal Shelter. We have reviewed and updated our policies, and increased fines. The creation of three new off leash dog parks have been a great addition to our park system.”
Indeed, the shelter has already hired a new shelter attendant as well as a new animal control officer. In the coming weeks the department will also be adding a new animal control director to the staff.
Brian Bellamy says there are several areas designated as “off-leash” areas and an individual can face a $100 fine if their dog is off a leash in all other areas. That fine jumps to $150 for the second offense, and $200 for the third. The fine jumps up to $500 if a dog bites someone not including restitution for any medical expenses the victim may have incurred from being bitten.
With the hundreds of miles of trails in Summit County, officials say it is nearly impossible to patrol all the areas, but hope that the community can step up and be more mindful and respectful of others when using the trails.
“We just ask for people to be responsible, to be responsible pet owners. It’s like if your child does something wrong, it’s your responsibility and conversely if your dog does something wrong, please accept responsibility for that,” said Bellamy.
Julie Booth, who handles public and community affairs for Summit County says with the new hiring of staff the county will be able to effectively and efficiently respond to calls and assist the public.