Casper animal protection officers request changes to protect people and pets - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Casper animal protection officers request changes to protect people and pets

Two dogs poke their heads out the window of a truck in Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Animal protection officers have requested a variety of changes to Casper’s animal care and control ordinance.

The city council adopted updates to the ordinance on Feb. 19, 2019 which included numerous changes, including defining “reckless owners,” strengthened rules requiring dogs be on leashes and that they be properly fenced-in. Casper Police Department data for 2019 shows that animal bites were down 21.7% from the prior year in Casper.

City Attorney John Henley says in a memo to the city council that animal protection officers have requested further changes based on their experience. The council are set to discuss these proposed changes during their Tuesday, June 23 work session.

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Those recommended changes include re-working definitions aimed to protect both people and animals, as outlined in a draft ordinance included in Henley’s memo.

First, the term “dangerous” animal would be replaced by a definition for “aggressive” animal. Under the proposed ordinance, animals which are defined as either “vicious” or “aggressive” would be illegal to possess unless:

  • the animal is properly restrained while on an owner’s property
  • when off premises the animal would have to be caged or muzzled and restrained by a secure collar and leash not longer than 3 feet

Pets which exhibit dangerous behavior could be defined as either “aggressive” or “vicious”:

  • an aggressive animal would be any animal not on an owner’s property that
    • “has attacked a domestic animal or livestock in such a manner that resulted in physical contact between the animals not necessarily requiring medical treatment to either animal” or
    • that has “chased, approached or otherwise interacted with a human being, domestic animal or livestock in an intimidating or aggressive manner”
  • a vicious animal would be any animal:
    • that has attacked a human causing injury or death
    • which is in a place it is “not legally entitled to” and attacks a domestic animal or livestock causing injury which results in visits to a veterinarian or which causes death
    • which has previously been declared an “aggressive” animal and engages in “aggressive” behavior

In addition to changes to the rules meant to protect people and other animals from vicious or aggressive animals, the proposed ordinance changes also include changes aimed to protect animals from people.

Proposed rules aimed to protect animals from cruel treatment or unsafe conditions include:

  • changes to tethering rules:
    • animals could not be tethered for over 10 hours in a 24 hour period
    • lines must be 5 times the animal’s body length or 12 feet long (whichever is shorter)
    • tethers must not pose a risk to the animal’s safety
    • lines must not weigh more than a quarter of the animal’s body weight
    • tether must be strong enough to restrain the animal
  • requiring clean pet environments
    • “premises are free of feces and urine as to not cause offensive odors or unsanitary conditions” in an enclosure, yard or surrounding area
    • pet environment must be kept cleans so that it does not draw flies or insects which could cause illness or injury to an animal
    • environment must be free of physical hazards to the animal like broken or sharp objects
  • prohibits feeding or sheltering non-domestic animals
    • would be illegal to shelter, feed or enticing non-domestic animal onto public areas or private property (excluding use of live box traps)
    • adds definition of “feral cat” which would be illegal to feed or shelter:
      • “feral cat”: cats that live outdoors and have little to no contact with humans, don’t allow themselves to be handled or touched by humans, run away/avoid humans
    • people could still feed birds or squirrels
  • prohibiting tormenting or harassing confined/restrained animals
    • ban yelling in a harassing manner at animals
    • ban throwing objects at animals
    • ban making gestures or other behavior to elicit reactions or cause stress to animals
  • protecting animals in motor vehicles
    • would be illegal to leave animal in motor vehicle over 70 degrees (current limit is 60 degrees) or below freezing
      • unless animal control officer deems there is sufficient water, ventilation, heat, air conditioning and bedding
  • proper shelter protections
    • requires access to water, proper shelter at all times
      • unless animal protection officer deems the species and breed capable of maintaining safe body temp
    • shelter, bedding must be kept “reasonably clean”
  • grooming requirements
    • animal must be “reasonably groomed” to prevent skin irritation, damage or infection and to prevent entanglement of hazardous foreign bodies
  • safe transportation of animals
    • would be illegal to transport animals on hood, fender, running board or other external parts of a moving vehicles (excludes truck beds with a closed tailgate)

Further details of the proposed ordinance changes are included in the council’s work session work packet.