Potential amendments to the Albany County Board of Commissioners Animal Control Regulations would focus on restitution for any damages caused by dogs running at large.

Commissioner Heber Richardson said the previous regulation under Wyoming Statute 11-31-301 imposed a small fine on those who violated the statue, which was not effective as a deterrent.

“The existing regulation imposes a small fine, but didn’t focus on getting restitution for people who had property damage or physical injury caused by someone’s pet,” Richardson said.

Richardson said paying restitution, rather than a small fine, would be a more effective deterrent for those who let their pets run loose.

“We don’t want to be a fine collecting government and we want people to be compensated,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the amendments would strengthen the law and allow for violators to potentially end up in court.

“The amendments would take the issue from being a civil matter, to where you could now wind up in court where the damage can be assessed and a judge can order restitution,” Richardson said.

Richardson said before the amendments, the law had no real way of compelling pet owners to comply with the statue.

Richardson says while he doesn’t think anyone aspires to be a negligent animal owner, he hopes the amendments will compel pet owners to be more proactive about controlling their pets.

“Now there’s actually some deterrent there.”

The Commissioners voted to publish the amendments at their meeting yesterday, Jan. 17.

Richardson said there will be a period of public comment on the amendments before further action is taken.