published:  March 2015

POA revising policy to deal with dogs at large in the Baca Grande

by Alison McClure,

Community Mgr, BGPOA

The Baca Grande POA (BGPOA) has recently been getting complaints in regards to dogs at large, dogs that are not under control of their owners.  The Board of Directors takes this very seriously; currently, the board is revising a policy on how to deal with this issue.  A revised policy will be presented to the board at the February 26 board meeting.

Per the BGPOA Governing Documents, Declarations of Covenants, Article XI, Section 11.7, Animals, (a) “Household pets may be kept on any Lot.  Dogs are not allowed off their Owners’ Lots unless they are under their Owners’ control.”  If residents in the Baca witness any dog running at large within the BGPOA, please report this violation to the POA office at 719-256-4171.  Filing a complaint can be done in three ways: fill out a complaint form (available at the POA office); email your complaint to info@bacapoa.org; or call the POA and one of the staff will take your complaint over the phone.  The information needed to file a complaint is your name, your phone number, your lot number, where in the Baca you saw the dog at large, description of the dog, and what you witnessed the dog doing. 

The homeowners are eyes and ears for BGPOA staff.  If complaints are not filed, we cannot enforce the covenants and alleviate the nuisance of loose dogs.  It is strongly recommended that you carry a camera with you as you walk the Baca.  If you see a dog without an owner, please take pictures and file a complaint with us.  If it is at all possible, get the lot number where the dog resides; that is of the utmost importance.  This may not always be possible; you are still encouraged to file a complaint even if you are not sure where the dog lives.

Once a complaint is filed, the POA will send a letter to the owner (if the lot has been identified).  If the number of the lot cannot be obtained, the POA will still attempt to find the owner and proceed with the enforcement of the violation.  If the property is being rented, and the POA knows the address of the tenant, a letter will be sent to the tenant also.  The owner has 20 days to respond to the letter and to come into compliance with the covenant.  If the owner does not respond to the letter, a second letter will be sent informing them of a hearing date before the Compliance Violations Appeal Panel.  The panel will review all the facts and circumstances, and interview witnesses.  The panel will decide if the violation warrants a fine.  The fine schedule is as follows:  First violation, $50; Second violation, $100; Third violation, $200.  If a member or guest (tenant) accumulates four or more similar violations they maybe subject to an additional fine of $250 per month until the violation is corrected.  However, payment of a fine does not alleviate the responsibility to correct the violation.  You can view the entire Covenant and Enforcement and Hearing Policy at the POA website at www.bacapoa.org or pick up a copy at the POA office.

The Saguache County Sheriff’s Department does not respond to dogs at large.  There are no statutes in Saguache County against dogs at large.  However there is Criminal Code 18-9-204.5 “Unlawful Owner of dangerous dog.”  The Sheriff’s Department will respond to a “dangerous dog.”  Sheriff Warwick encourages all to file a complaint with the Sheriff’s Department if you are bitten or if your own pet is harmed by a dangerous dog.  If you would like to read the entire Criminal Code 18-9-204.5, you may request a copy at the POA.

If Baca residents file complaints with the POA, we can begin to remedy the current situation of residents being afraid to walk and enjoy our beautiful environment.  We just need to work together.  If the POA board accepts a new policy regarding dogs at large, it will be published in The Crestone Eagle and on the POA website.