People complain to city about dogs at large

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During the Socorro City Council’s regular meeting July 1, a man complained about dogs during the public forum. Several people have complained to the council about dogs at large over the past few months.

Bill Nestor, a city resident who lives on Main Street, said a dog chased his son on June 19. He said the same dog had tried to attack an 87-year-old man before that.

Nestor said he called the police about the matter twice, but if they ever showed up, they didn’t stop by his house to talk to him.

Nestor said a couple of weeks before that, he caught two stray dogs in his neighborhood himself. He said it was after hours and police did not show up when he called. He took the dogs to the city animal shelter himself the next day.

“We do have a problem over there, Mr. Mayor,” Councilor Gordon Hicks said. Hicks lives in the same neighborhood as Nestor.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker said the city conducted a long meeting with the animal shelter and police department, and the two agencies need to communicate with each other. He said any time a dog attacks, and chasing a person is considered an attack, then police have to respond.

Nestor said he doesn’t want to harm an animal. He said one neighbor used to let his pit bull run loose at night, and one night Nestor’s wife shot the pit bull with a pellet gun.

Councilor Peter Romero said he was afraid Socorro could have a “terrible incident” like the one in Truth or Consequences. In 2011, a woman in T or C was mauled to death by four dogs.

When police Chief George Van Winkle arrived at the meeting a few minutes later, Bhasker asked him to visit with Nestor about the dogs at large in Nestor’s neighborhood.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved first reading of an ordinance for the city’s wastewater expansion project. Lloyd Martinez, city water superintendent, said the $1.2 million project will get all the residents west of the ditch hooked into the city’s sewer system. According to a letter from the New Mexico Environment Department included with the city’s agenda packet, the funding comprises a $950,000 loan through the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund and a $250,000 grant. The loan is a 20-year, 0-percent interest loan.
  • Postponed second reading of an ordinance selling city industrial park land to Blue Collar Construction. Terry Tadano, Socorro Chamber of Commerce director, said a resurvey of the land the company wants to buy put it at 9.7 acres, rather than 12 acres as stated in the ordinance. Jay Santillanes, city utilities division director, said he thought five council members must be present to change the figure. Approved a request from Socorro County Options, Prevention and Education, the local community health council, for the city to serve as S.C.O.P.E.’s fiscal agent for funding from the state Department of Health.
  • Approved a special use permit for transient vendors for Cooney Benavidez for the seafood van at 318 California St.
  • Denied a special use permit for transient vendors for Gita Ganjawala at 1009 California St., where a tool vendor has occasionally set up. Mike Czosnek, city building inspector and zoning officer, said the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the council not approve the permit since Ganjawala did not show up at the Planning and Zoning meeting June 20.
  • Approved changes recommended by the state Public Employees Retirement Association in the city’s resolution to supplement PERA loss in employees’ retirement contributions.