ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico city is considering a crackdown on irresponsible pet owners. For the past year, Roswell City Councilor Juliana Halvorson has been working on changes to the city’s Animal Welfare Code. She says the city is having problems with overpopulation, neglect, abandonment, and mistreatment of pets.

“This is a community problem, it’s not a pet problem it’s a people problem and the people need to take responsibility for their pets that they actually own,” said Halvorson. “We want to promote public safety because we’re having problems with dogs out attacking other dogs.

Last December a pack of dogs killed four animals at the Spring River Zoo in Roswell and the owners of the dogs are still unknown. Halvorson says her proposed changes are meant to make pet owners more responsible.

“We’re not trying to go after responsible pet owners what we’re trying to do is have irresponsible pet owners take responsibility for their pets so one way to do that is to increase fines,” said Halvorson.

Penalties would include big increases in fines. For example, if someone is convicted of animal cruelty, right now they would pay a fine of $100. Halvorson’s proposal would raise that to $500. They would also be prohibited from owning pets again within the city limits after just one offense. “There’s some people that are just horrific to animals they do terrible terrible things they need to be held accountable for that,” said Halvorson.

She’s also proposing more big jumps in fines for animals running at large, abandonment, and creating a public nuisance. Owners who fail to vaccinate or microchip their pets would also face stiff penalties. Instead of just $25, they would be fined $300 or more.

“Make them mandatory because it’s an effective way to encourage responsible pet ownership for so many reasons,” said Halvorson.

Halvorson’s proposal will be discussed again during the March 14 Public Safety Committee meeting before moving forward to the full city council.