Sandoval Signpost


An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Dave Harper

If you lose or find an animal in Placitas area, call the Animal Hotline at 867-6135. The Hotline is a nonprofit service run by Dave and January Harper to help reunite lost and found pets. Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a free service courtesy of the Signpost—we can sometimes even include a photo. Call Dave and January at 867-6135 or 263-2266 and leave a detailed message, or email the Animal Hotline at: (but call, too).


Lost dogs

These two dogs are lost. If you see them, call the Animal Hotline.

Two dogs: a Red Heeler and an Australian Shepherd were lost from the Forest Loop Rd. in Placitas (near the three-mile marker of Highway 165) on March 23. The Heeler is mostly white with a little brown, wearing a leather collar with a tag with an old address. The Australian Shepherd is a brown-and-tan female with a braided leather collar and a rabies tag. (#3745 and #3746. See photo above.)


Two dogs: a German Shepherd and a part white, part multi-colored dog with a tag that says “Rex” were found at Camino del Tecolote and Highway 165 in Placitas on March 19. (#3741 and #3742)

Dog: black, mid-size with pointy ears, found in Placitas West (about two miles from I-25) on March 2. Looks like part pit bull. White chest. Had collar, but no tags. (#3743)


Dog: a little lost dog was seen running up Juniper Road in Ranchos de Placitas on March 4, headed towards Arroyo Venada. Looked like a long-haired Chihuahua, red and white. #3737.


“Radar” was found and returned home


A huge thank you goes out to Dave and Joy for their help in getting “Radar” (lost dog #3729 from last month) back home. They noticed Radar drinking water on their patio and took the time to gain his trust, enticed him into their home, and helped him get home.


Animal News

LaloLalo’s pet prints:


Zorra del Ponderosa G.G.'s has designs on Spring 2012. —photo by Rebecca G. "Gert" Perry-Piper

Havana dogs

This photo was taken this past January while on an educational mission to Cuba (the island). These two dogs are part of a non-government-owned business (along with their owner) that operates in Havana, Cuba. For a small price, one can photograph these pets with or without their owner. Who says there is no Capitalism in Cuba? —photo by Bob Gale, Placitas

Eggs N’ Beggin Dog Parade and Costume Contest

The city of Rio Rancho’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department will hold the third annual “Eggs N’ Beggin Dog Parade and Costume Contest” at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 7, at the Cabezon Recreation Center, 2307 Cabezon Boulevard.

Pets are encouraged to parade in bunny, egg, and spring-themed costumes, and register to compete in costume contests. The parade is free and contest registration is $5 per dog, per category.

Registration for both the parade and contest will take place the day of the event beginning at 9:00 a.m. Festivities will officially kick off at 10:00 a.m. with the pet parade, which will be followed by the costume contest. There will be three contest categories: Best Little Dog, Best Big Dog, and Best Owner/Pet Look-Alike.

Proof of vaccinations must be provided as part of the event registration process, and dogs must be on a leash with a collar during the events. Animal participants are subject to the approval of city staff, which will assess appropriateness, temperament, and health.

For more information, call (505) 892-2915 or visit:

Leg Hold Trap

Watch your step?

—Barb Belknap

In March, mobile veterinarian Barbara Merickel received a call from longtime Placitan Tempi Sewell, imploring her to drive up into Las Huertas Canyon to subdue her friend’s pit bull that was in the grasp of a leg-hold trap. Experienced with dogs in this situation, Merickel headed up Highway 165 from Algodones with trepidation. At the trailhead, Merickel set out with Sewell and Sandoval County Sheriff’s Deputy Sal Tortorici to hike about a quarter of a mile on Forest Service land on the Osha Springs Trail. Merickel told the Signpost, “We could hear the dog “screaming.”

Hours earlier, the dog’s owner, Steve Gibson, had been hiking alone with his dog “Grazi” on the Osha Springs Trail and heard her sudden yelping about sixty feet ahead of him, her paw held by the trap. He tried several times to release it as the dog struggled uselessly. In a state of escalating panic, Grazi soon became unapproachable. Gibson retreated to call his neighbor and Sewell for help.

When Sewell, the deputy, and Merickel arrived to the scene, Gibson’s neighbor was also waiting there to help. The dog, exhausted from its efforts, remained tethered by the trap clamped on its front paw, the other end chained to a tree.

“Grazi was so tired and distraught,” Sewell told the Signpost, “She was in a state of shock and wouldn’t let anyone near her.”

Tortorici managed to get a noose around the dog’s neck with a catch pole. The neighbor pulled the dog’s leg in the opposite direction and Merickel successfully injected it with a sedative. Four hours after the initial entrapment, Grazi was transported to the hospital, examined, treated for minor injuries, and released with no lacerations and no fractures.

Merickel told the Signpost that Deputy Tortorici “did a great job” controlling the animal in the recent absence of a full-time animal control officer for Sandoval County [See story, this Signpost, next page]. Merickel also said that she does not oppose trapping and believes that the lesson learned here is: “Don’t let your dogs run loose. Keep them on a leash.”

Steve Gibson doesn’t share that sentiment. Two weeks prior, his other dog “Bella” was caught in a similar leg-hold trap while he was walking on the Loop Road, just east of Placitas West.

“I’m fed up with this,” he said. “What kind of ding-a-lings are making up these laws that allow people to put traps near hiking trails in public places. It’s not just about dogs off leashes. Everybody knows that when you’re hiking, you might see something interesting off the trail and go over to check it out. We’re not horses tromping along the trails, you know!”

Last month, I spoke with Ross Morgan, Public Information Outreach officer for New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, who said, “You can place a land set [trap or snare] anywhere on your own private property. You can place traps on public land, too. But there are certain rules and regulations regarding placing them near residences, roads, and trailheads.”

One of the rules for placement of traps in New Mexico states that no land-set may be placed within 75 feet of any U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management system trail designated by the agency on a map provided for the general public, or within 75 feet of the shoulder of any public road annually maintained with public funds.

Gibson continued, “These laws that say you can’t put traps within so many feet of a trailhead or trail, but then you can put them wherever you want, are ridiculous. The lawmakers are not looking at the big picture. This land belongs to everybody. The State should at least be required to post signs to warn people that these traps can be anywhere—and not that far off the trail,” he said.

Sewell is disheartened by hearing about these encounters with animal traps in the wilderness near designated hiking trails around this area and by her own personal experience with traps. She said, “These traps are in places that a lot of people walk and walk their dogs—near well-traveled trails and roads like the Osha Springs Trail and the Loop Road in Placitas,” she said. “This happens a lot. Something should be done about this.”

A youtube video gives detailed instructions on how to place a land-set for a coyote—a non-protected furbearing animal in New Mexico for which trapping is permitted year-round. Done in this state-of-the-art manner, this type of land-set can be nearly impossible for a coyote—or a human—to see. So, apparently, in New Mexico, the trappers have the right to trap on public lands near hiking trails, and the hikers have the right to go out there and be trapped.

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