By:  Date: 08/23/2006

Over the last 30 years, the breeder-enthusiasts who belong to local kennel and cat clubs have led the way in promoting responsible pet ownership. They've developed community outreach networks to educate; provided low-cost dog training classes; hosted microchip, spay/neuter and rabies clinics; done breed rescue; funded shelters and rescue groups; developed sales contracts with spay/neuter requirements; and they have volunteered in shelters and on animal control and humane advisory boards. Their efforts and dedication have contributed enormously to the huge decrease in surplus shelter animals nationwide.

But many lawmakers today, especially ones who have been educated by animal rights activists, don't seem to be aware of these facts.   They have a distorted idea of today's animal control problems, little awareness of positive trends, and they identify members of the organized dog and cat fancies as the problem, rather than recognizing them as an important part of the solution. The result is that the ordinances they draft hinder even the most dedicated pet owners from being able to produce healthy, well socialized dogs and cats. Even worse, some of these ordinances show an alarming willingness to trample on the individual rights of their pet-owning citizens.

A case in point is Albuquerque 's Humane and Ethical Rules and Treatment (HEART) Ordinance, signed into law and due to take effect in October of this year.

A careful review of the 67-page ordinance shows that many of its signature provisions are virtually unenforceable unless the city is willing to use oppressive and authoritarian means of enforcement against responsible, respectable citizens.

Among these citizens are pet owners, local veterinarians and members of the Rio Grande Kennel Club (RGKC), a 70-year old New Mexico not-for-profit corporation that is affiliated with the American Kennel Club (AKC) and dedicated to promoting responsible dog ownership.   Besides breeding and showing purebred dogs, many RGKC members do breed rescue at both local and national levels, work with 4-H clubs, participate in annual public-education events that focus on responsible pet ownership and volunteer at local shelters and on local boards. In addition, their annual dog shows bring several hundred thousand tourism dollars to Albuquerque each year.

To counter the many wrongs enacted by the new HEART ordinance, the RGKC has filed a complaint to void the ordinance and seek injunctive relief. Among other specifications, the lawsuit asserts:

  • Mandatory spaying and neutering constitute "a taking by the government" (Fifth Amendment violation).
  • Ordinance infractions are petty misdemeanors, settled by a City Administrative Hearing Officer rather than heard in a court of law (Fourteenth Amendment violation).
  • The City would have the right to inspect premises and documentation at will and to seize animals if compliance is in question (violation of US and New Mexico constitutions).
  • The ordinance would require veterinarians to provide the city with information regarding their clients and practice, which exceeds regulations given in the State Veterinary Practice Act.


RGKC financial resources, which would normally be earmarked for causes that advance the human-animal bond and the best interests of community animal care and control, are being diverted to fight this case.   We applaud RGKC's courageous stand against this ordinance and encourage our supporters to send whatever financial contributions they can to help.

Every dollar sent is a much appreciated act of solidarity.    Please make checks payable to the Rio Grande Kennel Club and mail to:

Rio Grande Kennel Club
PO Box 25672
Albuquerque NM   87125-5672

Please forward this to your friends and associates.



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