Peralta Town Council to consider animal control, fireworks ordinances

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The public and the governing body gave their two cents on two different proposed ordinances that will be considered by the Peralta Town Council later this month.

Public hearings were held last week on an amended fireworks ordinance and a newly proposed animal control ordinance. Julie Pluemer, Peralta's town clerk, said the fireworks ordinance needed a "fine tuning," in areas including enforcement duties, language and dates.

The original ordinances states that it was the responsibility of the town's fire chief to inspect fireworks stands or businesses that sold fireworks. The amended ordinances now states that along with the fire chief, the town's code enforcement officer, "… designated representative, and or any certified law enforcement officer …" will share those duties.

Pluemer said when the original ordinance was adopted by the council, the town didn't have a code enforcement officer. Richard Chavez has been the town's code enforcement officer since April 1, 2012.

Along with changing some wording in the fireworks ordinance, the council suggested changing the dates when fireworks can be sold in the town of Peralta. It was expressed by Councilor Joseph Romero that there was no need to issue permits to vendors to sell fireworks for the Chinese New Year, the 16th of September and Cinco de Mayo.

Romero, and other councilors, said they would like the ordinance to be amended to only include the Fourth of July and New Year's Day.

The ordinance, in part, says that any vendor must have a liability insurance policy worth a minimum of $1 million, that fireworks may only be discharged within the town limits between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., except on the eve of the holiday when hours will be extended until 11 a.m., and midnight of the actual holiday.

The ordinance does state that if the governing body declares a condition of extreme or severe drought, the proclamation "shall supersede this ordinance," meaning they could limit fireworks in the town.

According to the ordinance, the town is the only municipality in Valencia County that allows aerial fireworks, such as roman candles and others.

The ordinance does note that all stick-type rockets and helicopters, and "fireworks intended for sale to the public that produce an audible effect, other than whistle …" are not permissible in the town of Peralta.

Anyone found guilty of any provisions of the ordinance can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 or jailed for no more than 90 days.

The council also talked about its newly proposed animal control ordinance at last week's public hearing.

While Chavez is the town's code enforcement officer, he is also the new animal control officer, having completed training for the position. Last month, the council approved giving him a $2 raise for his additional duties.

The proposed ordinance, said Mayor Bryan Olguin, is to protect residents and make sure the town is a safe place for animals.

According to the draft ordinance, the code enforcement officer and animal control officer is "responsible for the enforcement of this ordinance." While it does say that in the event of the absence of the animal control officer, an on-duty police officer will assume enforcement responsibility, the town still needs to clarify the scope of the duties with the Bosque Farms Police Department, who provides law enforcement services for the town.

Town officials also have to inquire about several provisions in the ordinance, including whether animals taken to the shelter will be euthanized after three days or if they will be available for adoption, the animal owner's due process and the time limit a person will have to appeal a decision to district court.

Pluemer told the council that the town's attorney suggested that they change the original time limit for an appeal from 15 days to 30, but Peralta Municipal Judge David Young said according to state statute, they would have only 15 days to file an appeal.

Those who violate the animal control ordinance would pay a $20 impound fee to the town of Peralta for the first offence, and $30 for the second offense. Those having a third and subsequent offenses would pay a $40 impound fee (plus any Valencia County impound fees).

For offenses occurring after normal business hours, which includes weekends and holidays, those found guilty would incur a $40 fee for the first offense, $60 for the second offense, and $80 for the third and subsequent offenses.

The ordinance also includes:

• All dog and cat owners in the town of Peralta must have their pets vaccinated;

• It's unlawful for anyone to keep any animal known to be vicious; and to fail or to refuse to destroy vicious animals with symptoms of rabies;

• Any animal control officer, peace officer, property owner or individual may destroy a vicious animal if it is in the "act of pursuing or wounding any livestock or wounding or killing poultry or attacking humans, which will include pursuing, stalking or attempting to attack a human.

If the alleged vicious act is not witnessed by an animal control or police officer, the owner will be held liable for all damages, and any person with knowledge of a vicious animal shall report it to the proper authorities. If the court does determine the animal is vicious, the judge may order the animal control officer to have it euthanized;

• It's unlawful for anyone to negligently permit animals to run at large, and to allow livestock to run at large on a public highway;

• It's unlawful for any person to willfully abandon any animal;

• It's unlawful for anyone to fail to provide animals with proper food, drink, shelter, or otherwise treat it in a cruel or inhumane manner. Dogs are also required to be under the control and care of its owner at all times;

• It's unlawful to promote, stage, hold, conduct, carry on or attend any game, exhibition or fight in which one or more animals are engaged for the purpose of injuring, killing, maiming or destroying themselves or any other animals;

• It's unlawful to torture, torment, deprive of necessary substance, beat, mutilate, cruelly kill or over-driving any animal or to keep any animal under unsanitary or unhealthy conditions;

• It's unlawful to keep any animal which is defined as wild;

• It's unlawful to poison a domestic animal;

• It's unlawful for an owner to allow persistent barking, howling or make noise or to keep an animal to disturb noxious or offensive odors, or be kept in kennels which are not maintained.

Anyone found guilty of violating the ordinance can be fined up to $500 or imprisoned up to 90 days.

Owners who allow their animals to run at large would be fined $35 for the first offense, $150 for the second offence and $300 for the third or subsequent offense.

Chavez said he would like to install a "pad" at the town office to keep animals for a couple of days before he transports them to the shelter in order to help residents.

But Councilor Ginger Shoemaker said she thought it would be better to take them directly to the shelter so the town wouldn't face any liability issues. Young also advised the council that if the town did keep the animals for a certain amount of time, it would need to be licensed to do so.

The judge also asked if Chavez was covered under Risk Management if he were to destroy animals. Pluemer said she would look into that issue.

The town council will consider adopting the amended fireworks ordinance and the animal control ordinance at its next meeting on Wednesday, April 24.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.