Friday, September 19, 2008

The Albuquerque Pet Ordinance

The Albuquerque Pet Ordinance (HEART or Humane and Ethical Animal Rules and Treatment) is one of the worst examples of government gone bad. Taking a basically good idea-getting people to take good care of their pets-and turning it into a bureaucratic nightmare of government control, this sweeping document is the height of absurdity.

Now many of the laws in this document would make good suggestions, but having the government mandate them is what gets my goat. Here are some highlights:

  • A dog is required to be on a leash no longer than 8 feet long.
  • "Feces and soiled bedding must be removed at least weekly to prevent odor"
  • Companion Birds kept in Cages must have enough room to spread their wings and have at least 2 perches of different diameters available to them.
  • All Animals shall be groomed in accordance with this article...
  • Crates are prohibited as a means of outdoor confinement in non-residential areas.
  • Animals riding inside vehicles that are not in Crates or other enclosures must not be allowed access to a window opened wide enough for the Animal to jump, fly or fall out
If you live in Albuquerque, watch out! The plastic dog bowl or cat bowl for food is strictly prohibited!

  • Food and water dishes must not be made of plastic and must be washed after every meal.

Here is one of my favorite parts, where the amount of square feet per dog and cat is dictated:

  • Cats shall have a minimum of four square feet of flat floor space and twenty-two inches of vertical space.
  • Dogs weighing less than 30 pounds shall have eight square feet of flat floor space and two feet of vertical space per dog.
  • Dogs that weigh more than 65 pounds shall have 24 square feet of flat floor space and three feet of vertical space per dog.
Now of course in anything the government does, there has to be a revenue generating machine. This ordinance is no exception:

  • All residents of Albuquerque who own Companion Animals shall have a current annual Albuquerque Companion Animal License for each Companion Animal they own that is over the age of three months.
  • A License Tag shall be issued with each License.
  • Replacement License tags shall be sold at the AACC at a cost of $ 4 each.
  • The fee for late License renewal shall be a minimum of $10.
  • Owners of female intact Companion Animals must obtain a Litter Permit
  • Any Person intending to exceed the maximum limit of six Companion Animals, no more than four of which are dogs, in a Household shall obtain a Multiple Companion Animal Site Permit (MCASP).
Permit Fees.

(1) Intact Companion Animal Permit fee is $150 per animal.

(2) Litter Permit fee is $150 per litter.

(3) Exotic or Wild Animal Collection Permit fee is $35.

(4) Multiple Companion Animal Site fee is $25 per site.

(5) Guard Dog Site fee is $150 per site.

(6) Animal Service Provider fee is $25 per year.

(7) Pet Store Permit fee is $50 per year.

(8) Animal Drawn Vehicle fee is $150 per Animal.

(9) Trolley Permit fee is $25 per Animal.

That last one really gets my goat. Sure we don't want to enable hoarders, but why is the GOVERNMENT dictating to an American citizen, a supposedly "free" person, how many dogs they can have? Not only this, but if your animals irritate your busy body neighbors, they can file for a hearing:

  • Any adjoining property owner may petition the Administrative Hearing Officer for revocation, modification or suspension of a MCASP if the adjoining property owner is reasonably aggrieved by any effects of the Multiple Animal Site.
Don't get me wrong. Animal abuse and neglect should be prosecuted by the government, and hoarders should not be allowed to stuff 50 animals into their single wide trailer. Dog fighting should definitely be illegal. But when the government is dictating how many square feet a dog must have or what kind of bowls they can eat out of, things have been taken way too far. Over-breeding, puppy mills and other issues are best dealt with by education, not sweeping government mandates. Pretty soon there are going to be so many laws that you won't be able to go outside without being arrested.

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