Owners to be held responsible

By Ann McCreary

Pet owners in Twisp who permit their pooches to poop on other peoples’ property do so at their peril.

A new ordinance approved by the Twisp Town Council last week places penalties on dog owners whose canines defecate on property other than their own, unless the dog owner immediately removes the offending material.

“It shall be unlawful for the owner or person having charge of an animal to permit, either willfully or by failure to exercise due care, such animal to defecate in any area of the town other than upon private property of the owner or responsible person, unless said owner or responsible person takes immediate steps to remove and properly dispose of said feces,” the ordinance states.

It requires the owners, or responsible person, to carry a “proper means of disposal for the feces of the animal,” which means a “bag, scoop or other device and an eventual disposal in a trash receptacle, by burying, or by other means of lawful disposal.”

The animal waste ordinance has teeth in the form of fines imposed on owners or pet caretakers who violate the law — $25 for the first violation, $50 for the second, and $100 for all subsequent violations within a three-year period from the first violation.

The ordinance was adopted in response to complaints from residents about unwanted deposits on their property by other people’s dogs, said Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow.

“I’ve been getting calls and complaints — a dozen a year — about somebody’s dog pooing in their yard,” Budrow said. “It may not sound like a lot, but when they call up they’re irate!”

Twisp does not have a leash ordinance, because there is no dog pound or shelter where loose dogs could be taken, Budrow said. So the town adopted the ordinance as a way to discourage owners from letting their dogs run at large.

“It’s a tool for us to get people to realize that controlling your dog is probably a good idea,” Budrow said.

Twisp does require that dog owners obtain a license and provide proof of rabies vaccination.

The ordinance went into effect upon approval, and Budrow said the police department will be working to educate citizens about it.