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Santa Fe to consider changes to animal control ordinance

Santa Fe City Councilor Signe Lindell with her dog.

SANTA FE – The city of Santa Fe will consider banning the use of trolley systems for dogs, establishing standards for sheltering them during extreme weather and allowing animal service officers to go on to private property to impound an animal in “imminent danger of harm.”

The City Council on Wednesday without discussion unanimously approved publishing notice for a public hearing on a proposal to modify the animal control ordinance on March 11, at which time the council could adopt the changes.

The proposal prohibits the use of backyard trolley systems to restrain animals, except in certain conditions, like picnics in a park and emergency situations.

It would also set standards for dog shelters, requiring that they be made of “a durable material with a solid, moisture-proof floor that does not permit rain to enter it,” but it could not be made of metal or another material that readily conducts cold or heat. The shelter would have to include bedding that does not retain moisture, but is sufficient to protect against cold or dampness.

The proposed changes also would require dogs to be housed indoors when the National Weather Service issues a severe weather advisory or warning, or when temperatures are below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees.

In addition, the proposal allows for animal control officers to enter a private property, but not a residence, to impound any animal after first making an attempt to contact the animal’s owner.

The proposal also establishes fines and penalties for violating the ordinance and has an administrative hearing officer address complaints of animals disturbing the peace, rather than a municipal court judge as is currently the case.

The proposal was introduced by City Councilor Signe Lindell, who has sponsored animal-related legislation in the past.

In 2017, Lindell sponsored legislation that banned exotic animal acts, like those in a circus, and a year later she helped established a half-acre dog park at Fort Marcy Park.

Lindell also sponsored a measure that banned animal trapping devices in the city. She was in the minority when she voted against a contract for a company that uses snap traps to eradicate pocket gophers from city parks.

In October, Lindell appeared in a public service announcement with her dog Gemma that is periodically aired on the local government access cable TV channel.

Standing outside City Hall as snow is falling, she says that when cold weather comes, dogs need an “enhanced doghouse” that protects them from the wind and is furnished with water-proof bedding.

“If it’s too cold for you to sleep outside, it’s too cold for them to sleep outside,” she says.

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