County commission sets public hearing for pet ordinance

By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer

The Roosevelt County Commission is taking the next step to having a more lenient county ordinance on dogs and cats running loose.

Commissioners unanimously approved a notice Tuesday to modify the ordinance and set a public hearing for March 16.

The changes would allow deputies to issue two warning citations to owners of pets running loose before charging them in Magistrate Court.

The exception would be if the animal was endangering people or livestock, or damaging property. Deputies could cite the owner into court or destroy the animal, at their discretion.

Deputies could also take animals to the pound if they can’t identify the owner.

“This is ridiculous, having a dog ordinance,” commission Chairman David Sanders said.

Owners of dogs looking for rabbits or skunks in pastures don’t need to be cited, he said.

County Attorney Rick Queener said without an ordinance, deputies couldn’t cite the owners of dogs doing such things as chasing cattle.

Sheriff Darren Hooker said the county has areas with groups of homes, and Queener’s suggested changes would be good if dogs in those areas strayed into their neighbors’ yards.

“I would try to lead with the best course possible, but again, we’ve got to have something,” he said.

Also, Commissioner Jake Lopez said if a dog was bothering a rancher’s livestock, the rancher would shoot it anyway.

In another matter, the commission approved a resolution to follow the state Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices when deciding how to place traffic signs.

Hardin said a stop sign in Dora’s district had caused controversy and without a policy, the county could be liable for problems related to its traffic signs. Queener said each commissioner was individually liable as well, but following the manual would reduce, though not eliminate, the liability.

In other business, the commission:

• Heard the annual Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce report from Executive Director Sharon King.

• Heard County Assessor Tex Belcher report on the governor increasing property taxes.

• Heard Road Department Supervisor Ricky Lovato has been named Pavement Preservationist of the Year.