Ordinance change will reflect state statutes

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FARMINGTON — San Juan County Sheriff's Office deputies have had to assist animal control officers with some animal complaints, because the county animal ordinance does not align with the state's statutes, Sheriff's Lt. David Pixton said.

This could change if San Juan County Commission approves an ordinance change during its meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Aztec. The proposed changes mirror state statutes, Pixton said.

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Animal control officers are only able to enforce county ordinances, he said.
The ordinance change includes a dangerous dog definition and rules on tethering animals that are aimed at maintaining safe and humane conditions. 

The new ordinance defines a dangerous dog as one that causes serious injury to a person or domestic animal, Pixton said. 

This is different from the definition of a vicious dog, which is one that kills or severely injures a person. A dog is not considered vicious if it attacks to protect property, or if it is provoked.

"You can't keep a vicious animal, but you can keep a dangerous animal," Pixton said.

A change that may impact dog owners in the county are the tethering guidelines.

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Chains used to tie dogs outside must be long enough that the dog can sit, walk around and lie down, Pixton said. The dog must also have access to food, water and shelter. The chain must have swivels at both ends, and no chain can weigh more than 1/8th of the dog's weight, Pixton said. He said the area where the dog is chained must be free of obstacles to prevent the dog from getting tangled and strangling itself.

Another change is a nuisance animal definition, Pixton said. He said this applies to animals that continuously make noise or to excessive odors from animal waste. The definition will also include dogs that chase cars.

Currently, the ordinance requires people who have three or more dogs to obtain a kennel permit. The proposed changes will increase that number to five dogs, Pixton said.

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He said the ordinance also includes a pet kennel permit that is $20. The pet kennel permit requires neutering of at least all of one gender. There is also a breeder permit that does not require neutering. The breeder permit will cost $50.

Any violation of the county animal ordinance will result in misdemeanor charges and conviction could lead to a fine of up to $300, Pixton said. 
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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