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UPDATED: Blue Dog Stays Leash-Free

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This image provided by Butte General Store and Marine shows a dog known as Blue, Wednesday May 30, 2012 in Elephant Butte, N.M. (AP Photo/Butte General Store and Marine)

 Journal Staff Report

ELEPHANT BUTTE — Supporters of Blue the free-roaming dog have persuaded Elephant Butte officials to allow the animal to continue wandering untethered — within the boundaries of an invisible fence.

Blue’s attorney, Hilary Noskin, said community members packed City Hall and overflow rooms Wednesday to plead for the dog’s leash-free lifestyle in southern New Mexico’s lakeside community where he was abandoned as a puppy a decade ago.

Council members were unfazed, insisting they couldn’t exempt one dog from local ordinances. But after an hour of almost nonstop public pleas, city officials did decide to work changing leash laws to include electronic fences.

Noskin said that it wasn’t the outcome Blue’s caretakers had hoped for, but that it’s a compromise everyone can live with.

It’s unclear whether the cost of the fence will come out of the more than $1,800 donated by the community for the dog’s care or whether a fundraiser might be held.

In addition to donations, community members have built the blue-eyed Australian cattle dog — which has refused repeated attempts at adoption — an air-conditioned and heated dog house.

Janice Conner, co-owner of Butte General Store and Marine, says it all began about 10 years ago when the dog was abandoned at Casa Taco, where Blue was cared for by the owner until he died two years ago.

After that, Blue made his way to the general store, where he was fed and peacefully coexisted until last spring, when a 48-year-old woman was fatally mauled by pit bulls in nearby Truth or Consequences.

After that, Conner said a woman started complaining to the city when Blue would follow her and her dog on a nearby walking path. And this spring, Conner’s husband, Bob Owen, was cited for having Blue off-leash, prompting the legal skirmish that caught the attention of Noskin, an Albuquerque attorney and lake property owner.

Noskin said she is working pro bono, trying to win an exemption for Blue so he can live out the rest of the years in front of the store he now calls home.

“He’s one of my favorite clients,” says Noskin. “He is a sweet, sweet dog. He doesn’t meet any vicious dog standards. Somebody said he snarls … but I am not sure I believe that.”

City Manager Alan Briley said complaints have been received about Blue snapping and growling and almost being hit by cars crossing the street.

Conner said Blue has rebuffed several attempts at adoption, always making his way back to the store, where he has become a community mascot of sorts.

“Everybody just loves this dog,” Conner said. “People who can’t afford a dog bring their kids here to play with Blue. … He is the only dog I know who got four plates of Thanksgiving dinner at his dog house.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal


 

6:15am 6/13/12 — Blue the Dog’s Fate in Balance

ELEPHANT BUTTE (AP) — Officials in the lakeside town of Elephant Butte are meeting today to decide the fate of Blue the dog, whose struggle with local leash laws has made him a Facebook star.

The dog’s attorney, Hilary Noskin, says a meeting is scheduled at 2 p.m. on attempts to find a compromise for Blue.

The blue-eyed Australian heeler has lived on the streets for about 10 years, most recently as a fixture outside Butte General Store and Marine. The store’s owners say Blue is a friendly dog and community fixture who peacefully existed until the city cited them last spring for having him off-leash. They say Blue has refused attempts at adoption, and they just want Blue to be able live the rest of his life in peace.

Since his story went viral, Blue has amassed nearly 3,000 Facebook followers.


5:21am 5/31/12 — Free-Roaming N.M. Dog Has a Lawyer

By Jeri Clausing/The Associated Press

Blue the dog doesn’t have a home. And he apparently doesn’t want one. But the blue-eyed Australian cattle dog has $1,800 in savings, a Facebook page and an air-conditioned dog house.

He also has a lawyer, who is working to get him an exemption from local leash laws so he can continue his free-wheeling lifestyle in southern New Mexico’s lakeside community of Elephant Butte, where he was abandoned as a puppy a decade ago.

The City Council has scheduled a June 13 meeting, where supporters of Blue, who is also known as Bluedog, hope to end an impasse over his fate.

Janice Conner, co-owner of Butte General Store and Marina, says it all began about 10 years ago when the dog was abandoned at Casa Taco, where Blue was cared for by the owner until he died two years ago.

After that, Blue made his way to the general store, where he was fed and peacefully coexisted until last spring, when a 48-year-old woman was fatally mauled by pit bulls in nearby Truth or Consequences.

After that, Conner says a woman started complaining to the city when Blue would follow her and her dog on a nearby walking path. And this spring, Conner’s husband, Bob Owen, was cited for having Blue off-leash, prompting the legal skirmish that caught the attention of Albuquerque attorney and lake property owner Hilary Noskin.

Noskin says she is working pro bono, trying to win an exemption for Blue so he can live out the rest of the years in front of the store he now calls home.

(AP Photo/Butte General Store and Marine)

“He’s one of my favorite clients,” says Noskin. “He is a sweet, sweet dog. He doesn’t meet any vicious dog standards. Somebody said he snarls … but I am not sure I believe that.”

City Manager Alan Briley says the city hopes to reach a compromise on Blue, but he noted that the safety of the dog and the community comes first. He says the city has received complaints about Blue snapping and growling and almost being hit by cars crossing the street.

Conner says Blue has rebuffed several attempts at adoption, always making his way back to the store where he has become a community mascot of sorts. She says residents have dumped more than $1,800 in a jar for his care — funds she says she keeps for legal bills or medical issues. Residents have also built him a dog house with heating pads for the winter months and air conditioning for the summer.

“Everybody just loves this dog. People who can’t afford a dog bring their kids here to play with Blue. … He is the only dog I know who got four plates of Thanksgiving dinner at his dog house,” Conner said.

Conner says she has collected more than 1,100 signatures in support of Blue, who is on Facebook as Bluedog EB-Mascot.

She says she just wants to find a way for Blue to “remain the way he always has. He was here before we became a city, so all we are asking for is for the city to grandfather him in as a representative of the community.”

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