- Enough is enough when it comes to dogs at large in Nephi City
By Myrna Trauntvein
Dogs in Nephi are out of control according to several residents who like to walk, run and ride bikes along city streets.
In addition, Nephi residents seem to be allowed to have as many cats as they want in spite of the fact that the creatures cause problems for neighbors.
Michael Rice, Rosa Rice, Helen Carter, Karl Carter, Jill Guillory, Brent Bowles, Tammy Bowles, Patricia Padgett, and Nolan Padgett attended city council meeting to request that something be done to control the animals such as increasing fines for owners of at-large dogs and limiting the number of animals allowed at one residence.
Marion Watko was also concerned, he said.
"I have been here for eight years," said M. Rice. "When I go walking or biking I feel like I have to carry a weapon—a stick—to defend myself."
Usually, he said, when he is on-foot, he will stop, turn and face the barking dogs. When he is on his bike, that becomes more difficult and last week he was injured when a dog came at him and he went over his handle bar injuring his knee and tearing his shoe.
"We have a problem with dogs running at large and chasing bikers and joggers," he said.
At one particular address, he said, he knew the dog had a history with law enforcement and yet the dog remained at the residence.
"My question is, why has it not been impounded?" he asked.
In Nephi, there is a fine, said Greg Rowley, acting as mayor pro tem in the absence of the mayor.
Those who are issued a citation must pay $50, the fee for having no license was $25, and, if the owner had a charge of having a vicious dog, the owner had to appear in court and pay a $250 fine.
If there was a second offense, he said, the fine doubled to $100.
P. Padgett said that she walks everyday and takes a small five-pound pet dog with her. She even carries supplies to clean up after her dog so that no messes are left behind.
Recently, as she was walking, a large 200-pound bulldog bothered her.
"He fell in love with me," she said.
The dog was jumping on her and would not leave her alone. Her 120-pounds was no match for the bulldog. They only way she managed to get help was to yell so loudly that the owner of the animal came out and rescued her. The owner apologized but the animal should not have been unrestrained to begin with.
"This happens very frequently—that animals can just run out into the street," she said.
In addition, she had attempted to call to report an animal problem to the police and found that it took numerous calls before one got through. She ended up going to the office to complain.
She and her husband also have a problem with people being allowed to have many, many animals. One of her neighbors has a vast amount of cats. The animals are allowed to breed litter after littler.
Her husband, K Padgett, said that he had to police his own lawn frequently and clean up after the neighbor's cats. He had to always do so before he could mow his own grass.
He did not think one person should be allowed to have so many animals and wanted to know if there was not a limit on the number of pets allowed.
The cat problem, said B. Bowles, should be covered under the nuisance law of the city.
There is a kennel law for dogs inside the city limits and that can be enforced.
M. Rice said that he was told that a dog which caused him problems by growling and chasing him could not be considered vicious.
"When I reported the animal to the city police, the officer said he couldn't consider the animal vicious until the dog bit someone."
"No dog should be at large," said Lisa Brough, council member.
When a dog they had owned bit someone, the dog had to be quarantined and they had to pay for the dog to be tested and had to pay a fine.
R. Rice said that she and her friend have had problems with dogs at large when they have walked in the city. One animal was so aggressive that it chased them into the home of people they knew where they sought sanctuary.
"We were prisoners of war," she said. "I was crying and praying."
H. Carter said that she had been bitten in the past. But recently, when she and R. Padget were bike riding, one animal chased them from the city library all the way to the market, several blocks away.
"One dog jumped the fence," said Guillory.
Had not a van come along at the time, she said, she did not know what would have happened. She was able to put the van between the dog and her and was able to stage a get away.
Wade Gee, council member, asked if the group thought that changing the times of patrols by the animal control officer would be of help. He wondered if they varied from time to time it might be beneficial.
"Is there a time of day when the problem seems to be worse?" asked Rowley.
T. Bowles said that she had had problems with animals who came after her when she was out early in the morning and that she had been honestly frightened by them.
B. Bowles said that, west of the city, he was using a headlight on his bike because it was early.
However, said M. Rice, dogs were out at all times of the day and the problem animals were located all over town. There was one animal he did give the council and address for and asked that the animal owner be made aware of the responsibility they had as a dog owner.
Guillory said she started her exercise at 5 a.m. but M. Rice said that he went in the evenings.
M. Rice wondered if the city would enclose a copy of the city dog leash ordinance in the next utility billing as a way to make pet owners aware.
R.Rice said she had been calling police to report the problems she was having but that no police report was filled out. Police always asked if R. Rice wanted her neighbors to be fined.
"In Salt Lake City the fine is $600," she said.
M. Rice said he thought the city council should consider increasing the fine for violators of the leash law.
The council should also consider amending the wording of the ordinance governing a vicious dog to allow a dog to be termed vicious if it attacked.
"I have a problem with people not taking care of their animals," said T. Bowles.