News Index > Sortable News > January 2007
Cracking Down On Pet Owners

Albuquerque and a growing number of cities are passing tough new measures aimed at ending euthanasia in animal shelters. Owners are even being forced to clean up after their dog in their own backyard
Posted Tuesday, Jan. 02, 2007
For the past two years, Martin Chavez, mayor of Albuquerque, has brought his best friend to work every day. His friend doesn't talk, but he's often the first to shake visitors' hands. Dukes, Chavez's two-year-old floppy-eared mutt, is around not just for the company, but as a way to bring attention to the mayor's commitment to reduce the city's exploding unwanted animal population.

When he was re-elected to a third term in 2005, Chavez made a promise to end euthanasia at the city's animal shelters. He had already been meeting daily with City Councilor Sally Mayer and regularly with breeders and groomers across the city to come up with an animal ordinance that would improve the way the city treats its dogs and cats and increase the number of adoptions. At the time, the city was euthanizing more than 1,000 pets a month.

The law went into effect in October and it follows a nationwide trend of get-tough approaches to pet overpopulation. In Albuquerque, all cats and dogs older than six months must be microchipped and sterilized, unless owners pay an annual fee of $150 to keep their dogs able to reproduce � and another $150 for every new litter. ...
It's a grassroots phenomenon, says David Favre, a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, who has studied animal rights laws for 20 years. Feral cats, spaying and neutering, local shelters � these are all local problems that don't get the ear of folks at the federal and state levels. "It is not unlike the environmental movement when I was in law school. Animal welfare is a growing social interest."
To bring even more attention to the issue in Albuquerque, Mayor Chavez now brings a selection of shelter pets to news conferences, department meetings and public appearances. In most cases, the pets find new homes on the spot. The city's euthanasia rate has been cut in half, and Albuquerque is now adopting out more pets than it kills. Chavez's long-term goal: to be able to brag that Albuquerque is a city where all animals that are suited for adoption find homes. "We can't be a complete city as long as we euthanize animals," he says.

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