Take responsibility for your pets

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Did you know Pagosa Springs has a leash law?

The town’s municipal code strictly prohibits animals running at large.

Recent incidences of off-leash pets in the alley of the 400 block of Pagosa Street makes us think that pet owners are oblivious to this law. On three occasions recently, SUN staff has witnessed off-leash pets run at leashed pets and engage them.

If you are outside of the town limits, Archuleta County requires that “dogs shall be kept under control by their owners at all times.

• “On a leash of sufficient strength to restrain the dog

• “Confined in a building, fence or other structure in such a way that he does not escape. Or is on property possessed by its owner

• “The dog is to be within sight and hearing distance of its owner, keeper or family member, who upon command can call dog within a distance of four feet of such person”

A responsible pet owner adheres to local ordinances, including leash requirements.

Another thing we’ve noticed are piles of dog poop. Town staff shouldn’t be responsible for picking up your pet’s poop. At least 10 “Mutt Mitt” dispensers have been placed around town in parks, at the bell tower, at the River Center, on Reservoir Hill and along the wetlands trail. Littering is illegal. Dog poop is considered littering.

Tuesday morning, temperatures downtown plummeted to 16.4 degrees. When it had warmed up to 25 degrees, a dog was seen riding through town in the back of a pickup truck. Wind chill can threaten a dog’s life.

The Humane Society of the United States provides the following guidelines to keep your pets happy and healthy during colder months:

“Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside. Pets are sensitive to severe cold and are at risk for frostbite and hypothermia when they are outdoors during extreme cold snaps. Exposed skin on noses, ears and paw pads can quickly freeze and suffer permanent damage.

“If your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

“Help neighborhood outdoor cats. If there are outdoor cats, either owned pets or community cats (ferals, who are scared of people, and strays, who are lost or abandoned pets) in your area, remember that they need protection from the elements as well as food and water.

“Give your pets plenty of water. Routinely check your pet’s water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen.

“Be careful with cats and cars. Warm engines in parked cars attract cats, who may crawl up under the hood. Bang on your car’s hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

“Protect paws from salt. The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet’s feet.

“Avoid antifreeze poisoning. Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals.”

For your pet’s sake, please be a responsible owner.

Terri Lynn Oldham House