This regards the Oct 7 article called “Animal Shelter At Capacity.”  The subject of that article was the huge problem of strays in and around Socorro.   A county resident quoted in the article claims she can’t walk her dog because of all the animals.

In response, the county manager Gail Tripp is quoted as saying, “ if an animal is in its owner’s yard when the animal control officer arrives, they cannot remove it.”

That may have been an everyday shorthand for “in a fenced area,” namely under restraint, but as stated that statement is imprecise with regard to two things:

  1. The city code says the animal must be confined. The county code says the person “responsible shall not allow any domestic animals in their custody to stray.”  “Stray” is defined in the code as “running without restraint.” Restraint is defined as “keeping the …animal on a leash or lead…in a fenced or caged area, or under the demonstrable control of a responsible person.”

So unless the officer comes upon the animal and the owner is on the spot (not arriving after the fact from inside the house or whatever), and the animal is clearly trained to commands, that animal is clearly still a stray, even if on his owner’s property.

  1. The county code also states that the animal control officer has the right “to enter upon any premises or go upon unenclosed parcels of land or enter any pen, enclosure, yard or vehicle to enforce this ordinance”

I am in the city off of Chaparral Loop and I have made calls and written letters, as has another resident of the street, trying to get the City to enforce its code saying that an animal must have shelter and can’t be tethered to a stationary object.  There are two lovely large dogs who are chained day and night, sometimes with their water/food turned over, with no shade, at a house I drive by every time I go to town.  I’ve now witnessed no change in their state for eight weeks.  (I know it is all or most of the night as well because a family member has often driven by in the wee hours, 2 or 3 am.)

Animal shelter director Lupe Tarango was quoted as saying, “we are trying to get people to understand the [pet] has to stay on their property.”

Wouldn’t people be more likely to “understand” if the codes were enforced?  One understands the shelter is full.  (And I don’t believe there is any excuse for spay/neuter laws not being enforced nor for the shelter being insufficiently funded/managed).  But in a case of animal neglect such as the one near my house, the control officer doesn’t need to impound—he can enforce the straightforward shelter/tethering laws.

Pet overpopulation and abuse falls under the purview of the city and the county, which have relied on volunteers and donations for too long, and they are insufficient.  The laws were made by democratic representatives and need to be enforced.

Jan Deininger



Jan Deininger. Socorro