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By Gail M. Williams
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

At the regular meeting of the Muleshoe City Council on Monday, Feb. 10, the council approved at amendment to Ordinance No. O 519-0220 Amending Fee Schedule of Code of Ordinances. The amendment was in reference to animals surrendered to the Animal Control Department.
City Manager LeAnn Gallman said people come into the police department with animals they want to surrender.
“We all know that there are costs associated with that, whether we’re housing those that we’re adopting out, or there are other fees that come through the local vets, such as euthanization. As it is, the city has just been absorbing those costs,” she said.
“We also know that there are people who will not do the right thing, they’re turning those animals loose, and if that’s the case, we’re going to handle them anyway. But there are citizens who do the right thing, who bring them in to surrender. This (amendment) actually imposes that fee to surrender those animals at $45.”
Gallman said the fee was new, and that it applies to any animal, not just dogs.
Muleshoe Chief of Police Gary McHone said the police department was trying everything they could to adopt surrendered animals out, including working with non-profit organizations and holding the animals up to and beyond the three days required by state law.
McHone said the 45 dollars helps offset the cost if they’ve exhausted every option and have to euthanize the animal.
“We’ve actually had people walking into the police dispatch, which is open 24 hours a day seven days a week, and leave a box of pups before the on-duty dispatcher even realizes somebody was there, and a box of puppies was sitting in the lobby. So, we’re trying to alleviate that as much as we can and put some teeth into it, no pun intended, in terms of responsible pet ownership,” McHone said.
After the council unanimously approved the amendment to the ordinance, Gallman remarked that if you have a dog, it would be to your advantage to keep it contained or on a leash because the city does have a code enforcement.
“He’s out there working, and he’s serious about it, so just keep your dog contained,” she said.
John Page is the new code compliance officer.
A council member said Gallman brought that up, “Because there are stray dogs out there, and there’s not just a few, there’s a bunch and there has been.”
“Well, we’re working on zero tolerance,” Gallman said.
McHone said the department is working on zero tolerance 100 percent unless there are mitigating or extenuating circumstances.
“We apply the reasonableness test to that, but I always tell the code enforcement officer as we are right now unless otherwise directed that we need to implement a zero tolerance policy.”
He added the $45 fee was not intended to be punitive, but to alleviate, or address and reduce the problem.
“We may even want to throw in and start some educational programs, and so forth, so that it’s not just heavy-handed enforcement. But until we get our hands around it, we need to have a zero tolerance policy,” McHone said.
Mayor Clint Black asked how many pets are allowed without the owner having a breeder’s license. McHone responded three animals, dogs and cats.
“And every one of those should have a city tag,” Gallman said.

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