They’re scaring children and chasing livestock. The town of Carrizozo is being overrun by dogs on the loose. 

“They just become nuisances,” said Carrizozo Police Chief Thomas Gavin.

The police department has caught so many dogs this year that they had to hire an animal control officer to help ease the burden.

“You have to be trained to control animals, especially vicious animals, and my officers don’t have the training to do that,” Chief Gavin said. 

Until recently, the town hasn’t put a lot of emphasis on animal control, but after a few violent encounters police decided to take action.

“Some of these dogs are vicious. Some of them have bit members of the community and some of them have attacked livestock,” he said. 

Jannette Walker has seen the issue firsthand. Last week she had a close call.

“Just the other day there was two pit bulls that got loose and killed one of my neighbor’s baby goats,” Walker said. “Then (the dog) went after my donkey and tried to get her by the throat and chased her all over the pasture.”

The way the ordinance stands now, owners face no penalty for letting their dogs roam the town, and when ranchers lose their livestock to an attack, they can’t collect restitution.

That may be changing soon. The town is looking at a new ordinance.

“If those are approved as they stand there will be stiffer penalties and we will also be able to pursue the dog onto private property,” Chief Gavin said. 

The new animal control officer starts this week.