PERALTA — The Peralta Town Council recently approved an update to its animal control ordinance.
Mayor Bryan Olguin says it will help those in the community be more responsible for their pets, and it will fall in line with those of other municipalities in Valencia County.
“I think ... we all try to be on the same page. There’s not one completely different ordinance from, say, Bosque Farms to Peralta, Los Lunas or the county. We try to work together to have something similar,” Olguin said. “And of course ... an ordinance that’s humane towards something that puts the owners responsible for their pets.”
There are multiple goals the ordinance outlines, such as protecting animals from abuse to protecting residents from harm by animals. The ordinance also states that regulation and control of animals is key, and the hope is to “promote a rural and animal-friendly character within the town.”
Olguin said livestock being killed by dogs has been an issue for some years and, in some cases, it happens to be the same dogs owned by the same people.
With that in mind, the mayor said, the ordinance increased fees for seized or found animals impounded at the Valencia County Animal Shelter. For example, first-time offenders must pay a fine of $50, second-time offenders must pay a fee of $75 and third-time offenders must pay $100 — and that doesn’t include the shelter fees either.
If an offense is committed outside of business hours, holidays or on weekends, the fees go up even more. $100 for first-time offenders, $150 for second-time offenders and $200 for third-time offenders.
Previously the fees were $20, $30 and $40, respectively, for offenses within town business hours and $40, $60 and $80 outside of that.
Olguin denied it being a money grab by the town, and instead referred to it as a focus on responsibility by owners. The mayor estimated that 40-50 livestock have been killed by dogs in the last three years alone.
“Yes, it was a huge issue,” Olguin said. “A lot of people, it was the same offenders. I mean, you know, again, it’s not about this — it’s not about making money or to put money in our coffers. I don’t want to look at this as a source of revenue for the town. I want to look at it as the owners being responsible for their dogs.”
The ordinance also includes rules for dogs or cats to be vaccinated three months after birth, and “vaccination shall be administered” within one to two weeks after entering the town.
Animals that are considered vicious, chasing after livestock and/or humans, can be “destroyed” by the officer on site, according to the ordinance.
William Hammack, the animal control officer for the town of Peralta, said this is handled on a case-by-case basis. Usually, he said, the animal is detained first and from there it is left up to the courts if the animal should be euthanized.
“The dog is picked up and there’s an investigation that’s involved,” Hammack said. “And then it’s decided by the judge’s discretion whether he wants to euthanize or not.”
The ordinance states livestock near public highways cannot roam free, and motorists driving in unfenced areas of said highways must drive with caution.
Animals in the care of someone within the town must also provide adequate living support, too.
“It is unlawful for any owner or keeper to fail to provide animal(s) with proper food, drink, shelter, or otherwise treat the animal in a cruel or inhumane manner,” reads a portion of the ordinance.
There are additional rules for livestock, such as fencing requirements. Animal fights are considered “unlawful” and illegal, and physical abuse and poisoning is too.
The ordinance can be found on the town’s website, townofperalta.org.