Vote to protect animal lab bogging down

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A move to modify Bernalillo County's animal ordinance to keep a large animal research lab in business might not happen soon enough because of an overload of proposed amendments by other groups.

County Commissioner Wayne Johnson said about a month ago the county published a proposed amended animal ordinance, which consisted of about five changes. On Wednesday he said the number has exploded.

“The last I heard it was 30 amendments,” Johnson said. “It’s a passionate subject to folks.”

Johnson said animal advocates, pet owners and even county attorneys have put in their two cents about revising the ordinance.

The biggest group to weigh in is the animal research lab, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, which had talked to commissioners about changing the ordinance to allow it to stay in business.

County commissioners are expected to vote on the changes next week. However with the influx of added changes, Johnson said there may be too many amendments to vote on in one meeting.

“If I had to vote on it today, it would be very difficult to vote on it,” Johnson said.

Johnson has only thumbed through the draft now covered with more red ink than black. Some of the proposed changes include animal shelter size requirements, the number of walls each dog house should have, height requirements for residents’ fences, and the list goes on and on.

“We've got our animal care director sending in suggestions, county legal, we have commissioners adding amendments sometimes on behalf of different advocates, we have advocates sending in different stuff,” Johnson said.

Johnson said even residents have sent in recommendations expressing what they think should be on the ordinance.

“That's kind of a problem because now I have no idea what the ordinance is going to look like,” Johnson said.

The bigger issue for some is the amendment to allow that animal research lab to keep using animals as test subjects. Johnson said by the end of the year the lab is expected to be under county rules. At stake are more than 1,000 jobs.

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