Animal Ordinance

As a home rule municipality, the Town of Castle Rock has its own set of local laws and codes. From time to time, those local laws need to be reviewed. Town staff has undertaken a comprehensive review of the Town's Code related to animals. 

Purpose of the review

Town staff has undertaken this comprehensive review to improve public health and safety.

Current status and recommendations

The second of two formal considerations by Town Council was Tuesday, May 1. Council voted 5-0 in favor of the proposed changes. (First reading was April 17, and Council voted 5-2 in favor of bringing the proposal back for second reading.)

The changes will go into effect June 1. 

Previous Council meetings

Town staff on March 6 recommended to Town Council a replacement of the current breed-specific ban in favor of a two-tiered, behavior-based system. Council directed staff to return with a formal first reading of the new ordinances. 

During that meeting, a majority of Council asked staff to formalize the recommendation in the form of an ordinance, which will go through two public hearings at a later time. Watch the video discussion

Proposal: replacing breed-specific ban with two-tired, behavior-based provision

 In the current code, it refers to Dangerous/Vicious Animal. The proposed ordinance revision would:
  • Replace current dangerous/vicious animal code with a two-tiered, behavior-based system
  • Define a potentially dangerous animal
  • Define a dangerous animal
Town staff conducted extensive research throughout the review process and found most Colorado communities do not have breed-specific bans. Research shows breed-specific bans present a number of challenges and are difficult to enforce. That's why Town staff is making the recommendation to move away from a breed-specific ban to a two-tiered, behavior-based potentially dangerous and dangerous animal system. The proposed system would allow authorities to focus on the particular behavior of a dog and not it's appearance or genetic make-up. 

The proposed two-tiered, behavior-based system recognizes and defines prohibited animal behavior within the Town. The addition of a potentially dangerous animal section would allow law enforcement, through the Municipal Court, to effectively address dog behavior on the underlying facts rather than in a restrictive and global manner.

It's important to note, the proposed system also outlines definitions for both potentially dangerous and dangerous animals. These definitions are designed to proactively manage a potentially dangerous dog, and would not necessarily require a dog to injure/bite another animal or person before being classified as potentially dangerous. Additionally, dangerous dogs would be clearly defined, and steps to remove the animal from Town limits would be outlined.

Learn more about the basis for the Town's recommendation:

In addition, staff has proposed revisions to other areas of Town Code related to a variety of animals, including chickens, bees, dogs, cats, wildlife and more. 

About the team

Town staff undertaking this review has included the Town's Municipal Prosecutor, two Town Animal Control Officers, the Court Clerk, and representatives from the Town Attorney's Office. The Animal Control Officers have about 15 years of combined experience, and the Municipal Prosecutor has worked with the Town for more than 20 years. 

Goals of the review

The team is working to develop a proposed Code that:
  • is more easily understood
  • is consistent with developments in the law
  • provides more certainty and uniformity in enforcement
  • will work more efficiently in our growing community
  • recognizes responsible pet ownership, and the shared place animals hold in many residents' lives
  • will better serve to increase public health and safety

About the research

Over the course of a year, the team researched legal authority, studied neighboring communities' laws and more. The Town also received hundreds of comments, and read through dozens of scholarly articles and studies (use the bookmark feature for a listing of the articles). Here are some of the top take-aways:
  • Research shows bans can be difficult to enforce: research and review of court cases  shows the animal’s behavior is a better indicator of aggressiveness than breed.
  • Residents who responded favored replacing the Town's breed-specific ban: On this topic, we received about 300 comments. About 209 were from residents, 36 were from non-residents, and 76 were undefined as residents or non-residents. In that, 128 residents were in favor of lifting the ban on pit bulls. 
  • We need to be specific about chickens. Town Code currently allows chickens as part of a total number of allotted animals, but feedback indicated we should be more specific. The changes propose to address the permitted number of chickens as well as cooping requirements and humane treatment. Roosters would be prohibited. 
  • We need to be specific about bees. We recommend including bees with the Animal Code, rather than zoning provisions where it currently lives. 
  • We need to clarify number of animals. Currently, our Code limits the total number of all animals. The proposal suggests updating this area of the Code to be more specific about dogs and cats.

Next steps: Formal first reading April 17

During this review, the Town has considered community feedback, researched legal authority and studied neighboring communities' laws and more. On March 6, staff introduced Council to the proposed changes. Read the agenda memo and view feedback provided Council in the agenda memo for March 6, 2018.

The formal first reading was in front of Town Council on April 17. View Council Agendas

View feedback received from Feb. 28, 2018 to present, provided to Council. View the agenda items for April 17, 2018.

Previous open house information

The Town hosted a second open house on Jan. 31, 2018 to explain the proposed changes and get feedback. View the information displayed and give us your feedback.

Town Council received an update on these proposed changes during one of its regular meetings in December 2017. Read the memo or watch a video presentation

The Town hosted an open house on April 11, 2017. (View the information presented.) 

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Special note

Please note that these codes are separate from HOA rules and regulations. Castle Rock Police does not enforce HOA requirements.