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Editorial: ABQ Council should pass dangerous dog amendment

Dangerous dogs that attack without provocation – both in or away from home – would be seized and locked up until their fate is determined in a hearing if the Albuquerque City Council approves a proposed ordinance next month.

Sadly, it took the vicious deaths of a small Maltese dog named Duncan and a small terrier mix named Angel, both being walked on leashes by their owners, for this common-sense proposal to be put forward.

Currently, state law leaves the seizure of dogs that have attacked or killed other animals or people to the discretion of animal control officers.

In the case of Duncan, who was attacked by a neighbor’s three large dogs on the loose, the dogs were not seized by the city until months later and only after another attack. The owner eventually was barred from owning dogs within the city. The owner of the 100-pound Rottweiler that killed Angel was ordered to install a security door, but kept the dog.

It makes no sense for dogs that have killed or maimed without provocation to be allowed to terrorize neighbors who might fear another attack.

The proposed amendment to “Angel’s Law,” an ordinance named after a boy mauled in 2004 while trying to protect his little sister from a dog attack,would make it easier for the city to immediately take a dog or dogs out of the neighborhood, giving residents some peace of mind. The owner could contest the seizure in an administrative hearing. If a hearing officer determines the dog attacked without provocation, the city would keep it.

The amendment also calls for the city to evaluate animals in its custody to determine whether they are dangerous and should not be adopted out. Dogs determined to be dangerous could be transferred to private groups that care for them, but those groups could not adopt them out either. That measure is a result of several investigations that found a number of dogs had failed aggression tests but were adopted out anyway without telling the new owners of the animals’ behavior problems.

The amendment was sponsored by Councilor Trudy Jones on behalf of Mayor Richard Berry. The council should approve it. For Duncan and Angel.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.