Rio Rancho City Council Delays Animal Ordinance Vote

Please mark your calendars for 6:30 p.m. November 14 and December 12!

On October 24, the Rio Rancho City Council voted to postpone a decision on the city’s animal ordinance after hearing comments by 50 members of the public. Of those commenters, 37 voiced strong opposition to weakening the city’s current humane laws.

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Some councilors will likely submit additional amendments to the current animal ordinance, which will then be heard November 14 at 6:30 p.m.  The next round of proposed amendments from councilors should be available on the council's agenda on November 7 – click here. Once the council has voted on a final draft ordinance, including all newly proposed amendments, there will follow a period for public input, likely leading up to a final vote on December 12.

At one point during the meeting, councilors voted unanimously to restore the current language in Chapter 116 for operational standards, which includes basic animal care requirements for businesses. Please thank Councilor Mark Scott, Dist. 4, for his leadership on that issue and thank all the councilors for their decision, but let them know it’s not enough.

Still at issue are the following ill-conceived proposed changes that will hurt animals:

  • To repeal the current law that will ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores by the year 2015. Councilors Timothy Crum, Dist. 5 and Lonnie Clayton, Dist. 6, are co-sponsors of this proposal.
  • To remove the provisions that kept the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from performing in Rio Rancho this year due to the circus’ recent record of cruelty and neglect. The provisions forbid shows that have had documented violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act in the last three years. Ringling Bros. paid $270,000 in federal fines in 2011 for documented acts of cruelty and neglect. Councilor Clayton, Dist. 6, is the sponsor of this proposal.
  • There now appears to be opposition by some councilors to Mayor Thomas Swisstack’s earlier proposal to include dogs in the ordinance’s spay/neuter provisions.

What Can You Do To Help?

If you live in Rio Rancho, please place polite phone calls and/or emails stating your opinion to each of the Rio Rancho City Councilors. Let them know which council district you live in. Always include your name, address, telephone number and let them know if you are a registered voter! BETTER YET, ask your city councilor for a personal meeting. You can then convey your concerns and expectations in person in a relatively short meeting and make a positive impression by being polite and respectful. It will go a long way toward preserving the most compassionate parts of the ordinance.

If you live in neighboring communities, please let your friends and family in Rio Rancho know about this issue. The councilors clearly stated last week that they want to hear from their constituents. They are not as concerned with opinions of people who live outside of their city, although it certainly doesn't hurt to let them know if you work in Rio Rancho, shop in Rio Rancho, buy tickets to entertainment in Rio Rancho or own a business in Rio Rancho! Place polite phone calls to the council members and let them know that allowing inhumane businesses will have a negative effect on the City of Vision’s economy!

Please remember that Councilors Patricia Thomas and Tamara Gutierrez agree with us and thank them for their continued support! Mayor Thomas Swisstack is also a staunch supporter we can always count on, so please thank him, too!

Councilor Chuck Wilkins, District 1: 505-264-3751
Councilor Patricia A. Thomas, District 2: 505-264-3752

Councilor Tamara L. Gutierrez, District 3:

Councilor Mark Scott, District 4: 505-264-3754
Councilor Timothy C. Crum, District 5: 505-264-3755
Councilor Lonnie Clayton, District 6: 505-264-3756
Mayor Thomas E. Swisstackt: 505-891-5001

An equally important thing you can do, especially if you live in Rio Rancho: Write a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal's Rio Rancho edition and the Rio Rancho Observer.

Watch the video of the October 24 Rio Rancho City Council Meeting and listen to the debate.

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Related links

Respect Debate

It was clear from the speakers at city council that animal ordinance doesn’t need to change

It’s sad to realize that more pets are euthanized than are adopted at animal shelters

Councilors leash animal ordinance for a month

Animal Law Plan Spurs Outrage

RR Council Postpones Decision On Animal Ordinance

Animal Rights