Ordinance No. C2021-1; Amendments to the Gallup-Metro Animal Ordinance
The City’s animal control ordinance currently has four overlapping categories of dangerous and vicious animals with different procedures that creates confusion. The animal control ordinance originally had two categories: dangerous and vicious animals. The New Mexico legislature adopted the Dangerous Dog Act in 2005 which created the categories of dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs. This state law authorizes a local animal control authority to petition to a court to obtain a warrant to seize such dogs and to require owners of such dogs to obtain a permit to keep such dogs. The Gallup City Council then amended the City’s animal control ordinance which included inserting the “Dangerous Dog Section.” This section essentially shoehorned the state’s Dangerous Dog Act into the City’s animal control ordinance without considering how it affected other sections of the ordinance.
There are several problems with how that was done.
First, the definition of a dangerous dog is similar to the definition of a vicious animal (except that it only applies to dogs).
VICIOUS ANIMAL: An animal which kills or seriously injures a person or domesticated animal resulting in muscle tears or disfiguring lacerations, requiring multiple sutures or extensive corrective or cosmetic surgery.
DANGEROUS DOG: A dog that causes serious injury to a person or animal. Serious injury is an injury that results in broken bones, multiple bites or disfiguring lacerations requiring sutures or reconstructive surgery.
Similarly, the definition of a potentially dangerous dog is similar to the definition of a dangerous animal (again, except that it only applies to dogs).
"DANGEROUS ANIMAL: Any of the following:
A. An animal which, when unprovoked, engages in behavior that requires a defensive action by a person to prevent bodily injury to a person or another animal which is off the property of the owner of the animal in question.
B. An animal which, when unprovoked, injures a person in a manner which does not result in muscle tears or disfiguring lacerations, requiring multiple sutures or extensive corrective or cosmetic surgery.
C. An animal which, because of its poisonous sting or bite, would constitute a significant hazard to the public.
POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS DOG: A dog that may reasonably be assumed to pose a threat to public safety as demonstrated by the following behaviors:
A. Causing an injury to a person or domestic animal that is less severe than a serious injury;
B. Chasing or menacing a person or domestic animal in an aggressive manner and without provocation; or
C. Acting in a highly aggressively [aggressive] manner within a fenced yard or enclosure and appearing able to jump out of the yard or enclosure;
The proposed ordinance deletes the current “Dangerous Dog Section” including the categories of dangerous dog and potentially dangerous dog. Animal Control Division could still utilize the procedures in the state’s Dangerous Dog Act is it wants to do so, however the proposed ordinance replaces the procedures in the Dangerous Dog Section of our ordinance with an administrative procedure that is much simpler and expedites the process.
The Dangerous Dog Section requires a court determination that a dog is either potentially dangerous or dangerous. The proposed ordinance provides that the Animal Control Division makes the initial determination that an animal is either vicious or dangerous and a notice of that determination is served on the owner. The owner then has five days to file an appeal of that determination and request a hearing before a hearing officer appointed by the City Manager. Either the Animal Control Division or the owner may appeal the hearing officer’s determination to City Council.
This administrative procedure already exists in the ordinance and applies to revocation of any kind of permit issued under the animal control ordinance. The proposed amendment does shorten the time frames for things to occur. For example, currently the hearing can occur up to sixty days after the appeal is filed and the hearing officer then has ten days to render a written decision. The proposed amendment shortens those to fifteen days to conduct the hearing and three days for the hearing officer to render a written decision.
The final component of the proposed ordinance is to allow the city manager to adopt rules concerning animals at city parks and recreation facilities and that violation of those rules can be cited into Municipal Court. This is primarily to address problems at the Dog Park where a handful of owners repeatedly disobey the posted rules. Currently, all that can be done is to request them to leave.
These amendments were presented to the Animal Control Board on April 13 and it recommends adoption of the amendments.
- Fiscal Impact:
- Approval of the ordinance
- Speaker's Name
- Curtis Hayes