Now it’s just a ‘bad dog’; County says dogs pooping on someone’s yard no longer a misdemeanor

A dog squats while pooping | Photo by ThamKC/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Washington County Commission updated an unenforced law that could have sent dog owners to jail if their dogs were caught defecating in someone else’s yard.

Most dog-related offenses in the county, except cases involving vicious dogs or cruelty against animals, were downgraded from class-B misdemeanors to infractions at the Washington County Commission meeting Tuesday.

The previous law automatically designated all dog-related offenses as class-B misdemeanors, so people could be punished for not placing tags on their dogs, allowing their dogs to defecate where they shouldn’t or not locking a female dog in a kennel when it’s in heat.

A class-B misdemeanor, which can carry punishments of a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail, is not an appropriate punishment for those kinds of offenses, deputy county attorney Eric Clarke told St. George News.

We’re decriminalizing owning a dog,” Clarke said.

An issue with the previous law was raised when a woman was cited for her dog pooping in someone else’s yard. The woman attempted to pay the fine for her citation but couldn’t when she learned she was charged with a misdemeanor, which would have forced her to have a court appearance, justice court prosecutor Rachael Beckstrom said.

That incident was the first time the particular misdemeanor charge was brought against someone, Beckstrom said.

“I didn’t think a defecating dog should be punishable by jail time,” she said. “They should be able to go in and pay the ticket without having to come in and be on the record for their dog doing that.”

Beckstrom mentioned it to Clarke, who then brought it to the attention of the County Commission to be updated. It was important to keep cases involving vicious dogs or dog abuse as misdemeanors with a mandatory court appearance, which is why these crimes are not going to be infractions under the new law, Beckstrom said.

The County Commissioners unanimously approved the updated code, which commissioner Dean Cox jokingly referred to as the “pooper scooper ordinance.”

Other items at the County Commission meeting

A Rockville/Springdale Fire District ambulance sits at the ready after a storm dumped over 1/3 inch of rain on Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, Aug. 10, 2016 | File photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

The Hurricane Valley Fire Special Service District has now been expanded to include areas within Rockville and Springdale, after a resolution was passed by the County Commission Tuesday.

The move came after the County Commission approved a contract to replace the Rockville-Springdale Fire Protection District’s current staff with contracted employees from the Hurricane Valley Fire Special Services District earlier this year.

Read more: County approves contract to replace Rockville-Springdale firefighters and EMTs

The Washington County Commission also approved a grant to create a full-time substance abuse treatment program for inmates at the Purgatory Correctional Facility. This program will be daily for the inmates in need of comprehensive treatment for abusing drugs or alcohol.

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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13 Comments

  • Carpe Diem October 3, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Hope the bad dog doesnt mind my bad bb gun.

  • tcrider October 3, 2018 at 7:31 am

    somebody has been giving that poor dog cheese again.

  • Craig October 3, 2018 at 7:41 am

    Is it still breaking the law if you pick it up immediately with a poop bag?

    • Carpe Diem October 3, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Depends on what you do with it once it’s in the bag. One time, I saw a broke down truck parked at a Condo, and they used it’s windows for a dog poop depository.

  • DRT October 3, 2018 at 9:14 am

    If it’s illegal for dogs to poop in the wrong area, how about cats? And deer? And all other creatures?
    Who you going to fine when a deer craps on your campsite?

    • Carpe Diem October 3, 2018 at 10:07 am

      You have to pay the fine for being “obtuse in the woods”. Which means your wife will never go out there with you again.

  • iceplant October 3, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    My neighbors have a sign out in front of their home.
    “Take your sh*t elsewhere!”
    I guess a lot of dog walkers let their dogs do their business on my neighbor’s rocks.
    I don’t bother. If I see someone letting their dog dump on my lawn, I confront them with a plastic bag and a pooper scooper.

  • tazzman October 3, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Will the fines still remain in place?

  • Anon October 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Seems like a crappy deal for the lawn owners… 😉

  • Foxyheart October 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Just another way to make people not be responsible for anything they/their pets do.

  • mesaman October 3, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    County Commission; your tax dollars at work? No, your tax dollars on break.

  • Mike P October 5, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Just pick up after your dog. Pretty simple and it doesn’t tick people off.

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