City Councilor Signe Lindell, left, celebrates with Alan Edmonds, cruelty case manager for Animal Protection of New Mexico, the passage Wednesday night of a proposal that, among other things, prohibits the chaining of dogs in Santa Fe.

Chaining a pet outside could land Santa Fe residents in the doghouse from now on.

Despite previous concerns from the head of the city’s Animal Services Division, the City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a prohibition on chaining, tethering and use of trolley systems to restrain dogs.

The chaining prohibition was part of a series of changes to the city’s animal services ordinance, which City Councilor Signe Lindell, who spearheaded the proposal, said now mirrors Santa Fe County’s and incorporates nationally identified best practices for the care of pets.

“This has been brought forward for the betterment of the lives of animals in this town,” said Lindell, who wore a sweater with the image of a dog on front, as well as a bow tie peppered with images of dogs.

“This town loves animals,” she added. “The support that I found in bringing this forward was astounding and heartening. We live in a great town with people that deeply, deeply care.”

Other changes include a prohibition on leaving dogs outside in “extreme weather,” specifically during a severe weather advisory or warning by the National Weather Service or if the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees.

“This prohibition applies to, but is not limited to, leaving a dog in a securely fenced or electrified yard or in a kennel,” the ordinance states. “The dog may be let outside to relieve itself of feces or other bodily waste as needed.”

The council also approved a new section to the ordinance that allows animal service officers “in the performance of their general duties” to enter private property — but not a residence — to impound an animal in “imminent danger of harm,” a provision not defined in the ordinance.

“Prior to entering private property, an animal services officer shall first attempt to make contact with the owner of the animal,” the ordinance states.

All but one of the nine people who spoke during a public hearing on the changes supported the proposal.

Calling herself “probably the only naysayer,” Brooke Doman predicated her comments by saying she’s a dog lover and has had dogs all her life but that the proposal “paints a broad stroke.”

“It doesn’t take into account a dog’s breed, size, what kind of coat it has,” she said. “Not all dogs fit just one category.”

Lindell said the purpose of the ordinance changes “is in no way, shape or form to be punitive to loving dog owners.”

“It’s to better the lives and dogs, and part of what we have to do sometimes is to write the ordinances and the laws to protect the most vulnerable,” she said, adding that police and animal control officers have discretion “on the proper enforcement of these ordinances.”

Last month, Animal Services Division Supervisor Christopher Smith told the city Public Safety Committee the proposed changes were “complicated at best” and didn’t address serious existing issues or problems. While Smith attended Wednesday’s council meeting, he wasn’t asked any questions and sat quietly in the back of council chambers.

Alan Edmonds, cruelty case manager for Animal Protection of New Mexico, which was involved in crafting the changes, said he’s helped other jurisdictions and municipalities update their animal services ordinances but that Santa Fe’s was unique.

“This extreme weather provision will be the first in the state, so the city should really be proud of itself for considering that,” he said.

The initial proposal called for making cases of animal neglect either civil or criminal violations. But they will remain only criminal violations.

The changes will take effect 120 days after adoption.

“This is to give [the] animal services office time to print new citations booklets and train their officers on the new regulations,” said Jesse Guillén, the city’s legislative liaison. “It also gives the city time to conduct a public outreach campaign about the new regulations before owners are cited for violations.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(4) comments

Richard Vinet

Dogs are companion animals. All they want is to be with their people. If you don't want their companionship, why would you get one and condemn them to solitary confinement and subject them to extreme weather conditions?

glenn jaramillo

I guess my 80 pound dogs can stay at city councilor lindells house this summer. Dumb

Khal Spencer

Overall, a good idea but I wonder if this does paint with too broad a stroke. Is 32 deg F too cold for a Husky?

Amber Espinosa-Trujillo

Hope they have a game plan for when rambunctious larger bread dogs get out of their yard. The shelters will be filled and some may have to give up their pets if they cannot afford the 'get out of the pound' fees! Ironic and disturbing that the City administration ignores homeless problem but is so on it for animals! Que relaje!

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