Rio Rancho woman seeks to change dangerous dog ordinance to protect children

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RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) – A Rio Rancho woman wants to change city code to protect children from dangerous dogs.

An animal control report ruled her neighbor’s Pit Bull killed her two dogs earlier this month, only a few hundred yards away from Rio Rancho Elementary School.

“This has been — for myself and my family — beyond devastating,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “[The dogs] are family members. But at this point there really needs to be stricter laws in the city of Rio Rancho.”

“They were members of our family and losing them is absolutely devastating,” her daughter added.

The report said the Pit Bull jumped the backyard fence, broke through a second fence, and killed her chihuahua and small terrier. The owner surrendered the Pit Bull to police as a “vicious” dog and it was later euthanized as the only case in the city so far this year. Rio Rancho Police said there was one reported case of a vicious dog in 2016 and two dogs were euthanized.

“We don’t deal with too many vicious animals,” RRPD Capt. Ron Vigil said. “Officers can recover an animal, take it to our animal control facility, secure them safely. We find that when an animal does bite someone, we go through the process either through municipal court or an evaluation to ensure that the animal has its vaccinations.”

The woman wants Rio Rancho’s city ordinance to mirror Albuquerque’s “Angel’s Law,” which states a dangerous dog “cannot have access to or be within the proximity of a young child,” including near a school. Also, owners are criminally and civilly liable for any harm done.

Rio Rancho requires dangerous dog owners to have an insurance liability policy to cover the cost of damages, but the woman says she hasn’t received a dime.

Her ordinance suggestion is one other neighbors can get behind.

“I do stay armed while I’m on the property just because you never know when they happen to break through,” neighbor Justin Lotz said.

Lotz won’t even let his young kids play in the front yard out of fear of a dog attack.

“Since [the dogs are] not used to strangers they tend to be more aggressive,” he said.

According to Rio Rancho police reports, there have been 35 complaints from neighbors against the dog’s owner since 2015 about the Pit Bulls, from nonstop late-night barking to them staying in poor conditions and running loose. The father of the Pit Bull’s owner said the remaining two dogs are used as guard dogs and are being kept inside the house.

RRPD said in 2016, the city labeled three dogs as “dangerous” and one as “vicious.” So far in 2017, there have been four “dangerous” dogs and one “vicious” one.

Albuquerque has 109 dogs it officially labels “dangerous.” To view the public list, click here.

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