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ABQ fireworks plan draws howls from animal advocates

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The city of Albuquerque’s plan to shoot fireworks from Los Altos Golf Course on Saturday night has earned howls of disapproval from animal advocates worried about the dogs and cats at the neighboring eastside shelter.

After receiving “significant feedback” Sunday and Monday, the Parks and Recreation Department dropped the Los Altos Golf Course site and instead will have that fireworks display at Manzano Mesa Park, 501 Elizabeth SE.

“We have heard the concerns about having fireworks at the Los Altos Golf Course and its proximity to the Eastside Animal Shelter. We are listening to the feedback and moving the display to another area in the Southeast quadrant,” Parks and Recreation Director Dave Simon said in a news release.

Los Altos was one of four sites the city selected for an amended Fourth of July celebration designed to minimize large gatherings. The festivities – hosted in conjunction with Bernalillo County – replace the massive Balloon Fiesta Park extravaganza with alternative fireworks displays in four parts of the metro area.

But critics of the plan – which Mayor Tim Keller announced late last week – were quick to note that Los Altos is next to the city’s Eastside Animal Shelter. They complained that the fireworks could further traumatize the captive creatures.

“It can’t be the best spot we could find over there,” said Maria Colbert, a certified dog trainer in Albuquerque who has in the past worked with the city as an animal behaviorist. “It’s convenient because the city owns it, and that’s why they picked it, and I totally get that, but the problem is it’s the wrong spot.”

Colbert said that although some dogs are unfazed by fireworks, the noise can cause intense distress to others, including those in kennels.

“They have nowhere to go,” said Colbert, the owner of Duke City Dog Academy.

Many animal advocates and animal lovers had circulated messages on social media urging the public to complain to Keller.

“Fourth of July Fireworks are terrifying for dogs!!! One of these shows is behind the Eastside shelter where hundreds of dogs will be stuck in horror,” the Bridges to Home animal foster organization wrote in a Facebook page message, urging its followers to contact Keller and ask him to rethink the location.

The four displays will launch from Tom Tenorio Park, the Ladera Golf Course, North Domingo Baca Park and the Manzano Mesa Park.

The Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and the Metro Security Division of the Department of Municipal Development will patrol the launch site, and nearby street parking around each site will be restricted in the hours leading up to the launch time.

Officials urged families to enjoy the shows from their own homes.

The shows will be timed to a music track provided KKOB’s AM and FM channels.

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