They also should plan on getting a microchip implant for their dogs and cats – another requirement included in the ordinance approved last week by commissioners.
The changes will become effective within six months.
The Nov. 27 revision to the county’s animal care ordinance requires dog owners to keep pets “within a secure, enclosed pen,” fence or wall, and eliminates an existing provision that allowed dog owners to use a trolley system for confining dogs.
A trolley system tethers a dog to a cable attached to two fixed points, giving the dog more freedom of movement than a fixed-point tether.
“Our officers will be actively enforcing this,” said Matt Pepper, director of Bernalillo County Animal Care Services. “It does prohibit tethering of any kind as a form of confinement.”
Dog owners who want to use a trolley system will need a waiver from Animal Care Services, he said, but waivers will not be given freely.
“In order to get a waver, you have to demonstrate that you’ve exhausted all other alternatives,” he said. “What creates negative behavior in animals is the restraining – being chained out in the back yard for their entire lives.”
The ordinance also requires that all dogs and cats receive a microchip implant, which allows animal control officers and veterinarians to identify lost pets.
“Microchips are the best way for us to reunite you with your animal in case it gets lost,” Pepper said. Any veterinarian can implant a microchip at a cost of $40 to $60, he said.
The ordinance also clarifies the county’s permit system for breeders with the intention of reducing the number of stray animals, who often end up in shelters, Pepper said.
The law requires anyone who owns more than four unsterilized dogs or cats to have both a multiple-animal site permit and a breeder’s permit. Multiple-animal sites must admit county inspectors and meet other requirements.
In addition, the owner of an unsterilized dog or cat that has a litter must obtain a litter permit, unless the owner has a breeder’s permit. A litter permit requires that the animal be sterilized within 120 days of receiving the permit.