Extreme tethering cases justify action

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When Neo was a puppy, his owner placed a collar on his neck, fastened it to a chain and ignored him. When rescuers brought Neo to the veterinarian several months later, the outlook did not look good. Neo was starving. The owner who kept Neo as a “guard dog” never bothered to adjust his collar, which became deeply embedded in his neck and started to crush his trachea. Neo was dying.

If Neo’s story were unique, it would be a shocking example of cruelty.

But every week, the Animal Welfare Coalition of Northern New Mexico and our partner organization, New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better witness this kind of neglect.

Neo was lucky. He survived the surgery and now lives in his new adopted home surrounded by the affection that dogs as social animals need. Others, like Sawyer and Kaya, are not so fortunate. Sawyer’s last few days of his 10-week life, all of which was spent padlocked to a 30-pound chain, were spent in and out of consciousness as veterinarians tried to save his life.

When rescuers brought Kaya to a vet, her spine and hipbones were the most prominent feature. For a while the medical treatment to prevent Kaya’s organs from failing seemed to work, but a month later, the stress from her neglect caught up with her. She died.

The Las Vegas City Council took an admirable step forward in helping prevent this type of cruelty by recently passing an anti-tethering ordinance. The Animal Welfare Coalition and New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better applaud Councilor Andrew Feldman for introducing the ordinance, and the council as a whole for its unanimous support.

The anti-tethering ordinance takes effect in a year with penalties ranging from a warning for the first offense to a $500 fine and jail time for a fourth offense. It includes provisions that prohibit dogs from being left outside during extreme weather and mandate a dog has access to food, water, dry ground and shelter. It also prohibits the tethering of puppies. The Animal Welfare Coalition and New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better are working on programs that will provide support and resources to help the community to meet the requirements of the ordinance.

There are some in our community who shrug off the kind of animal cruelty we witness as “just a part of our culture.” As residents of Las Vegas, we have a vibrant culture to be proud of. Indifferent callousness has no room in our tradition. We are not asking for dogs to be treated like humans. We are, however, insisting dogs be treated humanely.

Martina Holguin
Animal Welfare Coalition of
Northeastern New Mexico

Angela Stell
New Mexico Dogs Deserve Better