As appeared in the Albuquerque Journal Rio Rancho Section 06/20/09
Angel's Law is an Albuquerque city ordinance established to protect the public, especially young children and others unable to protect themselves from vicious attacks by dangerous dogs.
The City Council found that owners who allowed their dangerous dogs to run loose in the city or fail to safely and humanely restrain those dogs on their property are criminally and civilly liable for the harm those dogs cause.
The ordinance focuses on three items: potentially dangerous dogs, dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners. The ordinance sounds like a good one, a protective one that will help safeguard the public by fining dog owners who allow their dangerous dogs to run loose.
But when I heard this week that the city had posted a list of actual dangerous dogs in the city, their breed and their home addresses, I wasn't so sure anymore. The idea seemed too invasive, seeing those addresses published right out there for all to avoid. I almost felt like a peeping Tom.
But after giving this some thought, as a mother, I have to say I appreciate a list that lets me know where dangerous dogs roam wild and can potentially harm my children. It is much like registered sex offenders' lists that show actual addresses of these criminals and the harm they have caused innocent children.
The dangerous dogs list, which is available online at cabq.gov/pets/dogs/dangerous-dogs shows nine pit bull or pit bull mixed breeds and one German shepherd. Does it seem that "mean dog" and "pit bull" are synonymous, or is it just me?
To get a better under-standing of why the pit bull always seems to be categorized as a dangerous dog, I called Rick Dillender, dog trainer and owner of A Fresh Perspective Dog Training in Rio Rancho who, with his wife, Heather, work with individuals, humane societies and animal rescues in New Mexico, Arizona and Washington.
"It's breed discrimination," Dillender said. "Pit bulls may seem to be meaner than others because they are a powerful breed. Any dog, big or small, can be mean and aggressive if neglected."
I was skeptical as I listened to Rick explain that pit bulls get a bad rap these days because they are simply a more commanding dog.
"Do you know which dogs we see that are aggressive and tend to bite the most? Lap dogs," Dillender said. "This immediately reminded me of the Animal Planet show, 'It's Me or the Dog' and those little Pomeranian type dogs who sit on the wife's lap as the poor husband cowers in the corner with inconsolable rejection."
According to the Web site A Fresh Perspective Dog Training, dogs are first and foremost socially oriented pack animals. They are not meant to be isolated outside for long periods of time. Watermelon Mountain Ranch, New Mexico's largest no-kill animal facility, is one of the only animal facilities that does not kennel their dogs separately. In the "dog cottage" at the ranch, dogs are grouped in small numbers to foster sociability, which makes them friendlier pets to those who adopt them.
Robin Moskowitz, manager at Watermelon Mountain Ranch, said the occupancy rate right now is just about at record levels.
Many of the guests will be going out today to the satellite adoption site at the Rio Rancho Wal-Mart parking lot at Southern and Unser from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
But the fun doesn't stop there; Moskowitz proceeded to tell me "we just took in 20 bunnies, too."
Quote of the Week: "Like the reason a dog has so many friends, he wags his tail instead of his tongue." "The Reason a Dog" by Aerosmith.