ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – With everyone ordered to stay home, people are restless and so are their pets.
Animals and their owners are now filling trails and parks, but some dog walkers are making it dangerous. People said getting outdoors helps break up their day, but some are concerned about the lack of restraint other dog owners are using.
While many dog owners are playing by the rules, some aren’t. “It makes me uncomfortable,” dog owner Melachai Ramirez said.
People said they are seeing more dogs off leashes right now. “Off leashes has more possibilities for liability and accidents,” dog owner Phil Werner said. “They can run in the street or attack people.”
Last week, an Albuquerque family lost their dog after three off-leash dogs attacked and a woman said she was attacked by an off-leash dog in Tijeras this week.
“Anytime I go walking or take him out for the restroom, I put him on the leash,” Werner said. The City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County both require dogs to be restrained by leash when not fenced in.
“More people are home,” Larry Gallegos with the county said. “More people are walking their dogs during the day at times they didn’t use to so because of that, we would expect to see some rise. Be very aware of your pets.”
There is an exception for designated off-leash parks. Albuquerque has 15 that people are flocking to. Regulars at North Domingo Baca Dog Park said they are shocked by the increase in people and lack of social distancing.
“I have never seen so many people,” dog owner Alicia Baeza said. “We are all supposed to be technically quarantined and stay apart, so it is surprising to see so many people out.”
“There is definitely a lot of owners that are more relaxed,” Ramirez added. “I was in there thinking about this whole virus thing while everyone is petting each other’s dogs and stuff.”
City and county officials are encouraging everyone to be responsible pet owners and responsible citizens. “I think people should take this coronavirus thing more serious,” Ramirez said.
Bernalillo County said walking a dog off-leash is punishable by citation. However, the county said it is difficult to enforce unless law enforcement witnesses it themselves.
The City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department said it has seen a spike in people at all its facilities during the stay-at-home order and has put up signs at parks to remind people to keep their distance.
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