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City Council approves stricter curbs on dangerous dogs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dogs that attack and kill without provocation will be subject to immediate removal under a new version of “Angel’s Law” passed late Monday by Albuquerque city councilors.

The goal, supporters said, is to better protect the public from dangerous dogs following a pair of vicious attacks last year.

The proposed ordinance calls for the city to take a dog into custody after an attack kills or seriously maims another pet or person – either with the owner’s permission or by seeking court approval. The owner could appeal the seizure in an administrative hearing.

Jack Cash, whose dog, Duncan, a Maltese, died during an attack last year, urged councilors Monday to pass the law.

“We didn’t feel safe” after the attack, he said. “These changes remove ambiguity from the law.”

Councilor Trudy Jones, who sponsored the bill at the administration’s request, said it was a “good compromise on what we need to do to keep our citizens and all of the pets in the city safe.”

The new legislation is a substantial change from the current ordinance, named after a boy mauled in 2004 while trying to protect his little sister from a dog attack. The existing rules leave it up to animal control officers’ discretion whether to take custody of dogs that have attacked other dogs or people. Seizure is rare.

Passage of Monday’s legislation comes after at least two fatal attacks last year on small dogs that were on leashes being walked by their owners. In Journal articles, owners of Angel and Duncan – the two dogs – described how heartbreaking it was to see their small dogs mauled to death while out on walks.

The city didn’t immediately try to seize the dogs involved in either attack.

The new city ordinance:

• Directs the city to try immediately to seize a dog that has killed or maimed a person or pet without provocation, either by seeking a warrant or with the owner’s permission. The seizure attempt is mandatory, not discretionary, and the city would keep the dog if a hearing officer agrees the dog killed without provocation.

The owner of a dog that has maimed, but not killed, a person or pet could get the dog back, depending on the outcome of an administrative hearing. The return would include certain restrictions.

• Makes clear that the city has discretion on whether to try immediately to seize a dog that less seriously injures a person or pet.