Publisher's journal: Portales' shelter policy necessary
June 21, 2023
This is not a space that routinely applauds government intervention. If it doesn’t involve securing the blessings of liberty, government needs to back off.
The recent actions of the city of Portales’ animal control department clearly fall within the U.S. Constitution’s introduction for how “We the people …” will consent to be governed.
Nobody’s happy that city officials are planning to euthanize more stray dogs in a shorter amount of time. But we don’t need another Tucumcari incident in our communities.
“People have been complaining about being chased, knocked off bikes, and being unable to walk on the street and sometimes to their own cars in driveways due to dog packs running loose,” Kelly McClellan told Portales city councilors earlier this month.
“We have kennel space for some dogs, but we’ve been trying to hold as many as 30 dogs at a time, and we don’t have the capacity.”
The city’s old policy was to euthanize unclaimed dogs after 10 days. The new policy is to hold them three days, at least until the problem is more manageable.
It’s a natural consequence that results from irresponsible dog ownership. And as much as most of us value man’s best friend, human safety has to come first.
Of course the city’s actions have outraged some animal lovers. Hopefully, they’ve also spurred everyone to realize the importance of keeping pets in enclosed areas and providing them with appropriate food and shelter. Those who cannot abide by those simple rules should not have pets.
It was less than five months ago that police say a Tucumcari man was attacked and killed by a pack of five dogs.
The autopsy detailing the 64-year-old man’s death is nightmarish.
“Throughout Stanley Hartt’s body, there were multiple areas where the flesh had been torn away and had bite marks indicated by puncture wounds throughout his body,” reads the report prepared by Office of the Medical Examiner agent Amy Jo Makenna.
“Because of the viciousness and number of dogs, Mr. Hartt was overcome by the animals and was killed on the roadway.”
Police said Hartt was walking near Mesalands Community College when dogs began attacking his legs. He tried to fight them off.
Dr. Harley Schainost of the Office of Medical Examiner conducted a preliminary autopsy on Hartt. She noted numerous injuries and “gaping defects” to his arms and legs.
“Dr. Schainost said he lost a large amount of blood because of the injuries, leading to his death,” the report stated.
What happened in Tucumcari on Feb. 1 cannot happen again.
Actions taken by public entities to help protect people from packs of roaming dogs are needed and appreciated.
David Stevens is publisher of Clovis Media Inc. Email him at: