Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Mexico Dog, Blue, Exempt from Leash Law

New Mexico Dog, Blue, Exempt from Leash Law

The story of Blue the dog, who hails from Elephant Butte, New Mexico, has ended in a compromise. Blue is an 11-year-old blue-eyed Australian cattle dog who was abandoned as a puppy at Casa Taco, years before Elephant Butte even became a town.
The restaurant’s owner cared for Blue until his death four years ago. Having always lived a free-range lifestyle, at that point Blue found his way to the Butte General Store and Marine, where he likes to spend his time. Several attempts had been made for adoption but Blue prefers the lifestyle he has always known and did not do well in the adoptive homes.
Store owners Janice Connor and Bob Owen took over the unofficial guardianship role for Blue. Blue even has a bank account with a balance of about $1,800, his own Facebook page and a pro-bono attorney from Albuquerque, Hilary Noskin. Townspeople have been generous with donations and have built Blue a heated and air conditioned dog house that he enjoys. “Everybody just loves this dog,” Conner said. “People who can’t afford a dog bring their kids here to play with Blue. … He is the only dog I know who got four plates of Thanksgiving dinner at his dog house,” quotes the Albuquerque Journal.
About two years ago, a local woman made a complaint about Blue, saying he was threatening her when she walked her dogs. Elephant Butte has leash laws and Connor and Owen were told if they had Blue neutered, they would have no further problems about Blue.
That sufficed for about 18 months when Elephant Butte enacted stricter requirements for dogs considered vicious, including a $100,000 liability insurance policy. This was in response to an event in the nearby town of Truth and Consequences where a woman had been mauled by pit bulls.
In February of this year, Owen received a fine for not keeping Blue on a leash. He contested the fine and was given seven months to come up with a resolution. A hearing was set for August 9. Owen applied for a variance to the leash law which resulted in the City Council meeting that took place on June 13, 2012.
Many of the 1,431 town members attended the city council meeting to advocate for Blue. The chambers were filled and people overflowed into the nearby court room. Some even listened to the proceedings on the parking lot loudspeaker. Testimony lasted about an hour and included suggestions such as making Blue the town mascot, giving him special protections from town laws.
Mayor Eunice Kent ended the meeting when she announced the compromise. Owen and Conner agreed to install an electric fence around the General Store property — which includes a gas station and boat repair shop — so Blue can continue to live a leash-free existence within those confines.
No news on whether Blue’s bank account will be tapped for the fence expense or if a fundraiser will be set. People from Elephant Butte have generously donated change at the General Store for Blue’s food and healthcare expenses. Donations also come from other sources.
View a slideshow of Blue and his domain at Butte General Store and Marine from The New York Times. The photos tell their own story, don’t they?
What do you think? Is this the best outcome for Blue?

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