Serving the High Plains

Officials consider animal ordinance

The Quay County Commission, at the urging of a local prosecutor, is considering reviving an animal ordinance because the absence of one is breaking state law.

Deputy District Attorney Ozy Adams told commissioners during their regular meeting Monday he was investigating a case where a “repeat offender” had let his dogs run loose in the county, and one had killed a neighbor’s dog. In researching the case, Adams said he found Quay County did not have a state-mandated animal ordinance.

Adams urged the commission to adopt most of the language from a Roosevelt County animal ordinance with additional “tweaks” that would make it more palatable to rural residents.

He acknowledged the previous Quay County animal ordinance, repealed in 2012, was “contentious.” One commissioner recalled lines of people in the county commission boardroom who overwhelmingly protested the law.

Roosevelt County’s law is less strict — including language that a dog not on a leash remains lawful if were “in control of a person or property,” Adams said.

“It would be not as extreme in social engineering and not getting up in people’s business,” Adams said.

County attorney Warren Frost said the Roosevelt County law is more “minimal” and probably would result in less uproar than the 19-page ordinance Quay County repealed.

“I’m optimistic Ozy and I can come up with something everyone can live with,” he said.

Sheriff Russell Shafer noted existing state laws deal with dangerous dogs. That didn’t sit well with Commissioner Franklin McCasland, who asked: “Why can’t we enforce the law already on the books?”

Frost said it was “wishful thinking” a person could be taken to court for dogs at large using only the existing livestock-oriented laws.

“I think we have to be more specific so we can prosecute somebody,” he said.

Shafer said his department deals with a “minimal” number of dog problems. Most occur in subdivisions close to a town.

Adams and Frost said they would work to draft a new ordinance in the coming weeks. The commission’s next regular meetings are scheduled for May 13 and May 27.

County Clerk Ellen White detailed some changes her office will see in the wake of new election laws from the Legislature. Among the changes this year and 2020:

— Updates to addresses and new registrations may occur in the county clerk’s office or voting locations in the county with fast, safe internet access. No political-party changes are allowed.

• Voters must sign an affidavit stating they haven’t voted in the ongoing election and must provide a type of photo identification and their current physical address.

• White is requesting all voting locations in Quay County become a voter convenience center with internet access so same-day voter registration is available.

• A person conducting an in-person update of the driver’s license that provides an address different from the voter registration will be updated automatically in the voter database unless the person declines it.

• Full Social Security numbers no longer are required to complete a voter-registration application. Required are the last four numbers of a Social Security number and/or the New Mexico driver’s license number and birthdate.

• Local questions by boards must be submitted within 70 days of an election.

• The municipality op-in deadline for elections has been changed from Jan. 31 to June 30. Those that opt in before the deadline incur no costs.

In other business:

• During her January-to-March report, Quay County Extension Service program director Brenda Bishop said 4-H enrollment numbers had dropped 20 percent from the previous year. She attributed that partially to the reorganization of two clubs, and she said she anticipates numbers will rebound next year. She said the number of participants in shooting sports also has dropped in recent years.

• Commissioners approved a fiscal year 2019 audit contract with Carr, Riggs & Ingram of Albuquerque for $36,300, plus the gross-receipts tax.

• Commissioners approved a loan so the Bard-Endee fire department can purchase a $450,000 fire truck.

• Commissioners approved $4,847.92 in claims from the Indigent Claims Board from March and April.

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