Number of dogs, complaints on the rise
Twisp is a dog-friendly town.
Take a stroll down any street, and you’re likely to be greeted by a friendly pooch running out of his yard to see who is crossing his territory. Visit the Old Schoolhouse Taproom at TwispWorks, and on some evenings you’ll swear more dogs than people are patronizing the establishment.
But the town’s love of man’s best friend may be turning into tough love. After fielding several complaints about dogs over the past year, including a letter written last month to Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, the Town Council is discussing whether to institute a leash law.
In an Oct. 23 letter to Ing-Moody, Twisp resident Karen Dahl described how a dog viciously attacked her 13-year-old cat on her back porch, while Dahl sat a few feet away, eating breakfast just inside the open sliding door. The dog’s owner was in a field, 200 yards away.
The cat was “unhurt but totally traumatized,” Dahl wrote. She asked Ing-Moody to consider a leash law with a $50 fine, “and $300 if a dog kills a cat.”
At the Nov. 12 council meeting, Police Chief Paul Budrow acknowledged the town had a problem.
“We’ve gotten more dogs and more complaints,” Budrow said. “This was the first written letter to the mayor.”
Town leaders say the need may exist for more regulation of dogs but wonder how they might accomplish it. The town doesn’t have the services of a dog pound or an animal control officer, Ing-Moody said. Police must respond to any animal complaint, which poses “a big challenge to our law enforcement,” the mayor said.
“We have no place to put dogs if we pick them up,” Budrow said.
The town might already have a built-in solution to the problem of reuniting a stray dog with its owner.
“It’s amazing how fast dogs find their homes on the Bulletin Board,” council member Mark Easton said.
Beyond that, Easton seemed interested in establishing a fine for people who fail to keep their dogs on leash.
“I personally think a leash law is a good thing,” Easton said. “The thing I hate most is an unleashed dog charging up to mine.”
Easton, like Dahl, said a $50 fine sounded right.
Budrow said if a dog is staying in its own yard or on its owner’s heel during a walk, that would be good enough. The police chief called that an “air leash.”
Other council members didn’t venture an opinion on what is bound to be a controversial topic.
“I would like to hear feedback, not just from people concerned about dogs, but dog owners,” council member Hans Smith said.
The council may revisit the topic as early as its next meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 26), when it is scheduled to review the town’s fee schedule — a list that includes everything from the cost of a building permit to the dog license fee.
Yes, dogs must be licensed in the town of Twisp, within 15 days of moving into town. The fee is $20, or $10 for fixed animals.
“Dog licenses have been going down,” Budrow said, “which is interesting because we also recognize there are more dogs, it seems, rather than less.”