A 9 year old boy suffered bruising and scratches after 3 loose dogs attacked him on his family’s property in Roswell, NM last week. He scrambled on top of a gate to stay clear of the dogs until his father, a city police detective, arrived with a gun and began shooting the dogs, killing one and wounding a second who was later euthanized. The third dog was taken to the Roswell pound and will be killed for rabies testing.
The 3 dogs reportedly escaped from a local rescue called Doggy Saviors which pulls dogs from the Roswell pound. The rescue surrendered another 15 dogs back to the pound after the attack. Those dogs have reportedly been sent to a rescue group in CO. In a statement on Roswell mayor Dennis Kintigh’s Facebook page, he indicates that all NM rescue groups are currently barred from saving animals at the pound:
On my direction the Roswell Animal Shelter has suspended releasing any animals to a local “animal rescue” organization until investigations have been completed regarding the attack on the 9 year old. The dogs involved in that attacked were reportedly “rescued” from the Roswell Animal Shelter by a local group. That group may have failed to provide appropriate care and supervision to these dogs.
Once the criminal investigation by the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and the Administrative investigation by the City of Roswell have been completed, the policy and procedures for releasing animals to local organizations will be reviewed and amended where needed. Until that time the only groups which will be allowed to receive dogs will be those who will remove the animals from our state.
While the incident which occurred with the loose dogs is tragic, there is no reasonable basis for barring every rescuer in the state from saving animals at the pound. The mayor alleges that Doggy Saviors “may have failed to provide appropriate care and supervision” and that there is an investigation being conducted. There are no allegations of possible wrongdoing by any other NM rescue groups. In the absence of any evidence suggesting otherwise, it appears the mayor is reacting in an extreme manner to an incident involving the son of one of his police officers. Furthermore, barring all in-state rescues will result in increased killing at the Roswell pound.
Presumably the mayor is basing his decision on the notion that the public will be safer if no dogs at the Roswell pound are allowed to live unless transported out of state. But in order for this assertion to be true, there would have to be evidence that dogs at the Roswell pound represent a public safety threat and that evidence simply does not exist. If it did, the mayor would be acting irresponsibly by ordering these dogs to be shipped out of state.
By reacting in this extreme manner, the mayor is conveying the message that all NM rescuers are too irresponsible to have dogs and that all dogs, including puppies, at the Roswell pound are dangerous and must either be killed or sent to live in other states where they can not threaten his constituents. The mayor’s reckless response to the incident not only insults rescue groups but also smears shelter dogs as damaged goods, thereby discouraging potential adopters. The cycle of harm created by the mayor’s thoughtless action in this case will reverberate over time.