Animal Cruelty & Neglect

Owner failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter, opportunity for exercise or veterinary care to any animal constitutes a violation of state statute. In addition, intentional acts of cruelty, such as abandonment, harassment or torture, will be vigorously prosecuted. If you see evidence of cruelty or neglect, please contact the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Animal Control immediately at 303-271-5070.


Jefferson County Animal Control believes that pets are happier, healthier and safer when they can be indoors near you the majority of the time. Most dogs enjoy spending time outdoors, but the time dogs spend alone outdoors must be balanced with quality time with their owners.

Dogs that spend most of their time alone or only in the company of other dogs, may demonstrate fearful, aggressive or overactive behavior toward family members or strangers. Your dog should be around your family to learn "people skills" and to learn your rules.

Dogs that are left alone in the yard for long periods of time may bark excessively, dig or escape and become lost. Jefferson County Animal Control receives many complaints about barking dogs, which sometimes escalate into full-blown neighbor disputes, and sometimes result in a fine for the dog owner.


A dog left in the backyard will get plenty of exercise when left alone, right? In fact, most dogs don't exercise when they're in the yard alone, and spend most of the time lying by the back door waiting for your return. Dogs need regular exercise, with your help. To keep your dog happy and healthy, take him on a daily walk, treat him to a regular game of fetch and provide him with “busy toys.”


Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors are at risk of the following:

  • Escape: If a dog escapes from the yard in search of interesting things to do, not only is he at risk of being hit by a car but you may be liable for any damage or harm that he might do
  • Poisoning: People have been known to throw poison into the yard, or spray mace or pepper spray
  • Theft: Your dog could be taken from the yard

Outdoor Provisions

Below are some tips to keep your pet safe and comfortable no matter what Mother Nature may bring, or you may share our Seasonal Pet Care Brochure PDF. If you must leave your dog outdoors and unsupervised for extended periods of time, we suggest you provide the following:

  • An insulated shelter with a wind-proof opening including a door flap, dry bedding such as blankets or straw, and facing the house away from the wind will protect your pet from the cold. Some very short-coated breeds like greyhounds, beagles and labs, may not be able to tolerate extreme cold, even with a shelter.
  • A dry elevated dog house should be provided for dogs when they are outdoors. The house should be small enough to be warmed by the dog's body heat, but large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around.
  • Shade in the summertime. All dogs need shade, but remember that heavy-coated dogs, such as huskies and chows, are more susceptible to the heat.
  • Remove snow piled high next to your fence. This can provide a boost for your dog to jump over the fence and become lost.
  • Fresh food and water every day. In winter, you'll need a heated water bowl to keep the water from freezing. Ice and snow does not provide enough liquid for an animal. In summer, you'll need a tip-proof bowl so your dog won't tip the bowl over in an effort to get cool.
  • Avoid lawns treated with pesticides and fertilizers, which can make pets sick if ingested.