Concerns ranging from private property rights to fees were heard at a public meeting Thursday regarding the newly proposed Valencia County Animal Control Ordinance.

The ordinance was drafted by a special animal control committee in an effort to improve conditions that had not been solved by the current ordinance.

Several outcries from local pet-owners, dog breeders and others led to a meeting with the committee to come to a compromise about what to include in the proposed ordinance.

Several concerns involved the rights of animal control officers to enter private propert, and to destroy animals.

“I don’t like the idea that the law gives them the right to shoot my dog on my property,” said Terrence Toomey of Los Lunas. “It violates basic constitutional rights.”

Toomey and others also expressed concern that animal control officers would not be liable in any situation for destroying an animal and that animals are not defined as “personal property,” as they were in the previous ordinance.

Members of the committee said the ordinance does not give officers unlimited rights to do this.

Section 2.3.03 of the proposed ordinance says officers may enter private property only with permission from the occupants. If that is denied, a warrant from a “court of competent jurisdiction” is needed.

Those who breed and show dogs voiced other concerns about licensing fees for “intact,” or unsterilized animals. The ordinance proposes a fee of $25 per intact animal, plus an intact-animal permit fee.

The purpose of this, according to committee members, would be to control animal population and reduce the number of animals that are euthanized at the animal shelter.

Dog owner Lorell Campbell of Los Lunas said the fees would not help control this. “People who are the problem aren’t willing to pay the fees,” she said.

Increasing the deposit for the sterilization of animals, which is refundable once proof of sterilization is shown, would be more effective, according to Campbell.

Mark Rosenblum, a volunteer with the Humane Society, said the proposed ordinance is “more enforceable” than the current one.

“Things needed to be tightened up to alleviate problems in the county,” he said.

“People need to just spend a day at the shelter, and they would understand why these things are in the ordinance. They should see the condition some of these animals are in.”

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Julia Selby Smith