What’s the Solution to Neighborhood Problem Dogs?

First off, the dogs are not at fault. The owners are. The repeat offenders are. There, I said it. This last week has stirred up a new layer to my reporting on how Rosie was killed by neighborhood dogs. I posted a question on the Santa Fe Bulletin Board on FB, asking who else has had issues with problem dogs and how did the county help?

In short, given the number of responses, we caught the attention of a local news station. They contacted me, did the research into my situation, and then came out for an on-camera interview. Francesca Washington and I talked about the decade long experience of being unable to enjoy the quiet and safety of my own home. She asked about what it’s like to then lose a dog you’ve tried to protect all those years. Horrendous. I then came back to a focus on finding a solution.

In the six o’clock news on KRQE, that was missing. They reported on the drama and loss, my pain and vulnerability, and yes, my court case against the man next door for maintaining a private nuisance (the legal phrase for keeping me hyper-alert and on the defensive).

Newsweek has also picked up the story. They at least expanded to include another woman’s experience with a neighbor’s dog attacking hers. You can read it here: https://www.newsweek.com/new-mexico-neighborhood-has-gone-dogs-says-neighbor-1473663

What then are the solutions? I don’t know. That’s what I’m hoping we can work towards. The good that come from Rosie’s death. Considerations include:

  • Santa Fe Ordinances: They define vicious dogs but give no penalties for owning them.
  • Santa Fe Ordinances: The concept of ‘running at large’ however is a named offence with specific penalties mentioned. However, that’s a vague term, one that covers anything from Fido-puppy popping over to the neighbors for treats and a Fighting-adults attacking the neighbor. Same wording. Same penalty. This phrase alone has meant that many fought the Animal Control when they included it into the new-ish ordinances.
  • Santa Fe County Sheriffs: Why are they unable to keep their residents safe? What will it take for them to step up, use the legal processes as sworn to uphold and protect us?
  • Santa Fe County Commissioners; Why aren’t you helping your constituents?
  • Dangerous Dog Act: Why is it so rarely enforced?
  • Dangerous Dog Act: Why don’t the ACOs know how to use this legal process?
  • Dangerous Dog Act: The focus is on specific dogs and not the owners.
  • Education: The AC officers I’ve met have been unsure of these ordinances, definitions or acts. They also didn’t mention the need to make a written statement whenever they were called out, for a paper trail.
  • Education: Dogs are not to blame. They do as taught. (See my neighbor, different dogs each couple of years, same aggressive threat and killing instincts.)
  • Education: NMDog.org, Best Friends Society and the Vicktory Dogs show how the dogs can be saved, given good lives with humans and other animals.
  • Community Shared Information: I’m willing to curate a forum for those of us dealing with neighborhood problem dogs to share what we know. For example, the notion that there’s a statute on the books about how we have a right to the peace and quiet enjoyment of our homes and that we can take our neighbors to small claims court for maintaining a private nuisance.

Together, we can make a difference.

That said, it’s true that I’m not sure what’s next. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks. #justiceforRosie.

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