Controversial laws that kept pets stores from selling dogs and cats, and stopped planned shows of Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus in Rio Rancho may not be on the books much longer.
The Rio Rancho Governing Body is set to vote on ordinance amendments to that effect during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 3200 Civic Center Circle.
Some people have complained that the ban on selling cats and dogs at pet stores has forced business out of town.
Also, this summer, the circus moved its show from Santa Ana Star Center to the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque because the animal ordinance prohibited animal exhibitions from coming into the city if the organization had received a citation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for not providing appropriate veterinary care, food, water, shelter or space or for handling the animals in a way that caused trauma in the last three years. Feld Entertainment Inc., producer of the circus, had been cited and paid a settlement in November 2011, but denied violation of animal welfare laws.
Critics of the laws say they decrease potential gross receipts tax revenue by forcing businesses and events to leave Rio Rancho.
According to city information, the proposed amendments remove requirements that staff of animal exhibitions have no felony convictions and have no citations from the USDA for the last three years, or official notices of alleged violations or settlements with the USDA for the last five years. Also, owners of elephants in such exhibitions wouldn’t need to submit documentation of specific health tests on the animals within the past year, although they would have to allow inspection of animal health records.
For pet stores, the amendments would remove the ban on selling dogs and cats, but add space requirements for areas in which the animals are confined. The changes would also require Rio Rancho Animal Control to conduct random, twice-yearly inspections of professional animal facilities.
In addition, dogs would become subject to the same requirements for sterilization, or permits to be exempt from sterilization, as cats.
The changes must pass a first reading Wednesday and a second reading at another governing body meeting to become law.
In other business, the governing body is set to:
• Vote on the first reading of a new ordinance declaring pigeon droppings and related debris a public nuisance, setting out penalties for feeding and harboring feral pigeons, and stating procedures for cleaning up a pigeon-infested area. Domesticated pigeons and injured pigeons being rehabilitated would still be allowed;
• Vote on a budget adjustment taking into account the impact fee moratorium;
• Discuss a method for choosing a new city manager;
• Hold a public hearing on an ordinance amendment that would allow one more freestanding sign at Hilltop Plaza on NM 528 in southern Rio Rancho, increase the size of the new sign and allow one wall sign per business;
• Vote on disbanding the charter review committee; and
• Establish a meeting schedule for November and December.