New Mexico: Santa Fe County Public Hearing on Breeder, Sterilization, Tethering Laws on Sept. 13

The Santa Fe County Commission is holding the first of two public hearings on Tuesday, September 13, on a proposal that would impact all dog owners residing or participating in events in the county. Those who reside or participate in events in the county are strongly encouraged to contact the committee, and if possible, attend the September 13 hearing.

The Santa Fe County Commission is holding the first of two public hearings on Tuesday, September 13, on a proposal that would impact all dog owners residing or participating in events in the county.

Those who reside or participate in events in the county are strongly encouraged to contact the committee, and if possible, attend the September 13 hearing (Scroll down for hearing and contact information).

Summary:

The proposal would make numerous changes to current law, including:

  • Licensing and inspections of all breeders.  Anyone who breeds dogs must obtain a Breeder’s permit, which is $150/year.  This permit must include a list and description of all dogs intended to be bred in the coming year.  This permit may be amended, so long as it is amended prior to the breeding taking place.  An Animal Services Officer must be granted access “at any reasonable time” to inspect the premises and ensure compliance.  If the inspection is not allowed, then the permit may be suspended or revoked, and the dogs may be impounded. 

    Since this includes those who breed just one litter in their homes, this means that the animal services officers would be permitted to enter private residences at any time.  If no one is home, the officer may come back with a warrant.  

    If the litter was unintentional, then a litter permit must be obtained unless all dogs are relinquished to the local animal shelter.

 

  • Additional licensing if more than 10 dogs or cats of any age on premises at any time.  If a person ever has more than 10 dogs or cats of any age on their property then a Professional Care Permit must also be obtained, which is $200/year.  This presumably includes someone who owns a small number of dogs, then has a litter that puts the total number of animals to 10.  There are numerous additional procedures, approvals, and regulations on those who obtain this permit, including radiant heating for all cages and never allowing the kennel to be cooler than 50 degrees or higher than 85.  There is no exception for puppies recently whelped that may need to be kept at higher temperatures for their health and safety. 

 

  • Sterilization of dogs on a first impoundment.  There are many reasons a dog may be impounded under this proposal, including tethering a dog humanely on an owner’s private property.  Any animal impounded must be sterilized before being released, unless the dog has participated in “formal competition” within the past 6 months.  For example, if a puppy strays from its owner’s home and has not yet participated in a show, it could be sterilized.  

 

  • Possible loss of dogs for any violation of a permit.  If it is determined that a person who holds a permit has any violation, then the permit may be revoked.  A permit holder may request an appeal, which will be held by the Animal Services Division within 30 days.  The hearing officer, according to the proposal, “shall not be limited by formal rules of evidence” and it states that “any evidence may be considered which is of a type which responsible people are accustomed to rely on in the conduct of serious affairs.”

    A notification will be sent to the permit holder within 15 days of the hearing with a final determination.  If the permit is revoked, the permit holder must cease within 5 days.  If deemed necessary, the permit holder must give away, sell, or surrender all animals. 
     
  • Requiring that all dogs must be kept in a fenced yard or enclosure.  When on the owner’s private property, all dogs must be kept in a secure run, kennel area, a fenced-in yard, or a yard with an electric fence.  No tethering of any kind is ever permitted.  Any animal not in compliance will be considered a stray and impounded. 

    This could be a significant challenge for those who do not have a fenced-in yard or have a dog that they humanely tether outside for brief periods throughout the day.   It also punishes those who because of income or the location of their residence are unable to build a fence or kennel run.
     
  • Establishing requirements that could prevent companion and performance events and all dog training.   A dog is never allowed to be tethered at any time, with very few exceptions.  Exemptions include dogs at dog parks, or dogs actively herding or hunting.  Also if the dog is “appearing in an approved show”, it does not need to be tethered, but it is unclear how this would impact agility, obedience, rally, or performance events.  It also has no exception for any kind of dog training.
     
  • Prohibiting dogs from barking more than 10 consecutive minutes at any time of day.  There is a fine of $300 for violations or imprisonment.  Animal control does have the option of issuing a warning, although on the third offense “the animal will be deemed a nuisance and a lawsuit will be filed”. 

The proposal in its entirety may be read by clicking here (proposal begins on page 25).

What you can do:

Attend the September 13 public hearing:
Board of County Commissioners of Santa Fe County Hearing:
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
1:00 pm *
County Commission Chambers
Santa Fe County Administrative Building
102 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico
*Note: This is one of the last items on the agenda, and county officials have indicated it could be a couple hours before it is heard, so it is not essential to arrive at exactly 1:00 pm.

Contact the County Commission prior to the September 13 hearing:
Phone number for commission: (505) 986-6200

Commissioner Robert A. Anaya - ranaya@santafecountynm.gov

Commissioner Miguel M. Chavez - mchavez@santafecountynm.gov

Commissioner Kathy Holian - kholian@santafecountynm.gov

Commissioner Henry Roybal - hproybal@santafecountynm.gov

Commissioner Liz Stefanics - lstefanics@santafecountynm.gov

 

AKC Government Relations will provide details and updates as they become available.  For more information, contact doglaw@akc.org

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