City adopts formal leash law

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Dogs living in Socorro will no longer be able to roam free, and if they’re caught, their owners will have to pay the price.

Socorro city councilors amended the animal control ordinance on Monday, July 2, to effectively enact a leash law and to enact a “pooper-scooper” provision for dog owners.

Previously, the animal ordinance required pets to be restrained whenever they left “the boundaries of the premises of the owner of that (pet).”

The ordinance defines restraint as follows: “Restraint means keeping a domestic animal under the immediate control of a responsible person on a leash or lead no longer than eight feet in length; or, keeping a domestic animal in a fenced or caged area from which the domestic animal cannot escape; or under the demonstrable voice control of a responsible person.”

The amendment deleted the phrase “or under the demonstrable voice control of a responsible person” from the ordinance. In simplest terms, whenever a pet is not indoors, it must be behind a fence or wall, in a cage, or on a leash.

During the public discussion portion of the meeting, there was one objection raised. A Socorro resident sent in a letter stating that he felt that his dog was well-trained enough to be no threat to passerby, and his dog would not be able to get the exercise she needed with this leash law.

While his concerns were acknowledge, Mayor Ravi Bhasker stated that the amendment was not directed at well-trained and well-behaved animals that would not demand animal control attention without the existing law and that the amendment was focused on keeping dangerous animals from harming citizens. Regarding the animal health concern presented, Bhasker suggested fencing off land near Clarke Field for use as a dog park sometime in the future.

The other part of the amendment adds a new subsection to Article III, Section 3: disturbing the peace. It makes failing to properly dispose of animal feces a finable offense.

All violations of the ordinance are punishable with a fine of up to $300 and up to 90 days in jail.

After the revised ordinance is published, these amendments will go into effect three days later. Animal control and the police department officials were brought up-to-date on what the revised ordinance would entail beforehand, so the transition in enforcement should go smoothly.