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re: dog-napping dogcatcher—an open letter to Debbie
Hays, Sandoval County Manager
Dear Ms. Hays,
I live in the village of Placitas. I just came home from an appointment
in Bernalillo to find a dogcatcher capturing and caging my neighbors'
dog. My neighbors never let their dogs run loose; in fact, on our
street, Camino del Campo Santo, they work constantly (but ineffectively)
to try to ensure that vehicles keep the speed limit (posted 10 mph)
to protect any children, dogs or wildlife that may wander to the
road. I've lived here for three years and have never once seen my
neighbor’s dogs outside their fenced yard. I suspect last
night's high winds have something to do with it.
I tried to tell the dogcatcher this. I know he has a job to do.
We both were very civil. But I'm outraged that he didn't use his
discretionary power to let me take the dog—either I would
have kept him until my neighbors returned or I would have put him
in an enclosure on their property.
He told me the dog, “Reno,” an aging blue heeler,
would be at the Albuquerque animal shelter by the end of the day.
The dogcatcher finally consented (to my neighbor, by cell phone)
to take the dog to Watermelon Ranch instead of Albuquerque. My neighbors
ended up paying $25, instead of the $300 the dogcatcher told them.
I find the whole incident to be a senseless waste of taxpayer's
money. The dog was not a threat to anyone. A neighbor who knows
the dog (me) was more than willing to keep him for his owners, thus
protecting the dog from danger. Of all the people in my area of
the village, my neighbors are the most conscientious and loving
in the care of their animals (and any others they hear about who
may be lost or in danger, e.g., they tried for days to catch a small,
scared lost dog in the village recently; e.g., a couple of summers
ago, in response to an article in the Signpost, they spent three
days rescuing goldfish from a fast-drying creek after Corrales Water
Lily Society only took the "specimen" fish.
I can't convey how upset I am that the dogcatcher was adamant
about taking pets from virtually their owners' front yards on the
smallest street in this "animal friendly" village.
Surely there is a better way to spend County money and maintain
good relations between county workers and Placitas residents.
This was so unnecessary—a bad experience for the dogs and
their owners (and me, the neighbor.) We look out for each other
and each others' pets on this road. What was the dogcatcher doing
here? Surely it was the "animal" version of a speed trap,
and it was an absolute fluke that the usually-confined dog found
itself on the wrong side of its fence at the time Mr. Griego drove
by. The owners don't need punishing—they'd have been flabbergasted
to find their dog loose.
I found this incident very frightening. I have two dogs too, always
with me. Neighbors passing in cars slow down/stop; on foot, they
greet them. I'd never let them out of my sight, but now I'm afraid
they'll be "dog-napped" right before my eyes!
—SUSANA VINCENT, Placitas
re: spread-out development
New Mexico is the third-driest state in the nation, following
Nevada and Arizona. Why are we rewarding people to do the wrong
thing: develop land in the name of stewardship and "natural
Pueblo people knew how to build here the best, before you-know-who
decided this to be fertile ground to sell to you-know-who. Pueblos
built in clusters, not spread out. It worked.
But today? Think about it, developers. Very sad, Sandoval County
Commissioners. Where are you when the water runs out?
Bless you, Pueblos, for teaching us and waiting for your just due:
back to a fine earth molested and ruined—still Mother and
redeeming her place.
—CHRIS HUBER, Placitas
re: community heroes
Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for your thoughtful response in last month's
Signpost to Susan Blumenthal's letter.
This letter made me stop and think a great deal about our community
and the people who give of themselves day to day to improve, strengthen
and serve others in our community. I would personally like to take
this opportunity to thank each and every volunteer committee and
board member serving and working to improve our choices and who
make a significant difference for all of us who live here.
I want to begin by thanking Sue Strasia, Ann Frost and the other
members of the Placitas community library board, who have worked
tirelessly with no motive other than a desire to contribute to our
community. Their work has just begun and they have a long way to
go and will need our full support and encouragement.
I would also like to thank the parent teacher organization, the
charter school board, the Optimists’ Club, the Placitas Chamber
of Commerce, the Placitas Recycling Center, Dr. Alan Firestone and
El Pueblo Health service, the Placitas Fire Brigade, all of the
Homeowners Associations and water co-op boards, the Placitas Artists
Series, the Placitas Animal Rescue, Watermelon Mountain Ranch, Las
Placitas Presbyterian Church, the San Antonio Mission Church, W.R.A.P.
(Water Resources Association of Placitas), and each and every individual
who sees beyond his or her own personal needs and who put themselves
out and are working for the greater good of all of us living in
Without these individuals, our community would be a vastly different
place. We need to encourage them to press on and continue to face
the challenges and needs that we will face as a community on into
the future. Perhaps we should look at how we can each do something
that will bring about positive change or participation in our community.
There are thousands of ways to get involved, from serving on a board
to picking up trash in our neighborhoods and along highway 165.
The future is in our hands. Nobody is doing it for us. We are an
unincorporated area within Sandoval county and although the county
can be helpful and co-operative, our outcome will be determined
by individuals and groups striving to do better. I believe that
the library/community center and the federal and county funds (tax
dollars) which have been committed to this project will prove to
be very wisely spent . The library, which will be located approximately
one mile from the village center, will be an amazing melting pot
which will over time become the centerpiece of our community. This
facility and learning center will be utilized for all kinds of programs,
groups and individuals and something that our community will be
proud of for many years to come. Just look at what has been accomplished
in the past year or two by the library board in the makeshift environment
provided by Pepi Strahl. It is truly amazing, and just the tip of
the iceburg. This new facility promises to transcend any perceived
economic and social barriers that may exist and will seek to bring
us together in a way that we can only now imagine. Placitas absolutely
deserves a beautiful and functional library and meeting space and
we together will make this integral to the future of Placitas.
Please e-mail me names of unsung heros and outstanding people
in the community or your neighborhood who we don't hear about, and
what they are doing.The Chamber of Commerce will make an effort
to recognize these people and give them the thanks that they deserve.
—THOMAS ASHE, TOMJASHE@COMCAST.NET,
PLACITAS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, Placitas
[Editors’ note: We’d like to thank
B. Orbin and Susan Blumenthal for their honest letters questioning
the need for a library and a charter school in Placitas in the last
couple of issues of the Signpost. Maybe they are heroes, too. Some
people like Placitas just the way it is—and some the way it
was. Others have a grander vision of the future. In any case, it’s
good to keep talking about it. We would also like to thank I. Jackson
for her thoughtful defense of the library and charter school.]
re: USFS land trade to Sandia Pueblo
When I first read about the proposed land trade in the January
Signpost, I was upset, because I do a considerable amount of hiking
in that area. At least I think I hike in that area, since the description
of the Forest Service land in question was very nebulous at best.
Now the article in the February Signpost says that there is concern
among recreationists that the trade might include the 10-K Loop.
Then we are told that the 10-K Loop is not included in the swap.
The article confirmed my suspicion that I am not the only one who
couldn’t figure out exactly what land is about to be traded.
Here is a novel idea: why not print a map of the area so that
everyone will actually be able to know exactly which forest-service
land we will be losing. I use the phrase "we will be losing,"
because it has been my experience that once the forest service decides
on a land deal, no amount of public input, not even a lawsuit, seems
to sway them from their intended course.
—ROSS ISAACSON, Placitas
[Editor’s Note: The proposed USFS land trade
to Sandia Pueblo does not include the 10-K Loop. To see a complete
map of the proposal (too large for printing legibly in the Signpost),
please contact Jackie C. Andrew, Sandia District ranger, at 281-3304.]
In the last Signpost, we stated that the Placitas
Investment Club was new. Actually, it started in 1996. Prospective
members can get more information by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s true: guns don’t kill people
—PAOLO BACIGALUPI, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
When I was in sixth grade, my entire class was marched into the
school gym for Hunter Safety class. There, for several class periods,
the public school system helped us understand the difference between
the deer we could shoot and the ones we shouldn't, the ethics of
"shooting your wife's deer" (which always made me think
someone's wife was keeping a deer as a pet, but instead meant using
her permit), and then—in a thrilling culmination—we
were taken out to the local gun range to shoot a regulation ten
bullets from a .22 rifle.
A few weeks later we got our perforated shooting targets back,
along with our hunter safety certificates, and emerged newly minted
soon-to-be hunters. I went home and told my mom I wanted a .22 for
I never got it. My mother's values and my determination to blow
the heads off of prairie dogs were in direct conflict, but despite
her best intentions, my relationship with guns didn't end with hunter
When I was 15 and abruptly transplanted to a new city school system
from my tiny rural one in western Colorado, I met a kid named Scott.
His favorite band was Great White; he wore a desert cap (the kind
with the flaps that hang down over your neck to protect from sunburn)
with a British flag on the top. At a time when I was feeling swamped
by a 1,500-student school, he took me under his wing and made sure
I was integrated with his friends and his pastimes (bowling, drinking
strawberry wine coolers, t.p.-ing neighbor houses, etc.). And by
November he was dead in a gun accident that involved some of our
friends and an "unloaded" gun.
He took a bullet in the head and died instantly. I wasn't there.
I missed the moment when the bullet made a small entry above his
eye, and massive exit from the back of his head. My friends all
insisted that they had checked the rifle's chamber multiple times,
that it was unloaded and they didn't know how it happened. They
were just looking over Joe's new rifle and somehow it went off.
They were familiar with guns. Had used them many times. None of
these gun-savvy kids planned on spattering the basement walls with
their friend's blood. But they did.
And now our vice president has had a similar accident. While hunting
for quail, he shot a friend and fellow hunter with a 28-gauge shotgun.
According to witnesses, Cheney flushed a quail, tracked it, and
fired. And in the process, he nailed his 78-year-old friend. The
fact that the man didn't die (he's often described as being peppered
or sprayed with bird shot, and having welts like "chicken pox"
on his face and chest), makes it easier for the people involved
to minimize it, to call it an accident with a lucky ending. Here's
the thing, though. I don't believe that you can have a gun accident—or
luck, either—around guns. You can have gun carelessness. Or
gun inattention. Or gun disrespect. Or gun recklessness. Or gun
stupidity. But you can't have an accident with a gun.
There are only two things I learned in hunter safety, and they
come back to me every time something like this happens: Know where
your gun is pointing at all times. Know what you're shooting.
That's it. The first protects against almost every tragedy related
to unintentional discharge. The second protects against the consequences
of an intentional discharge. The National Rifle Association's "fundamental
rules for safe gun handling" say this at http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp.
Anyone who understands how dangerous guns are, understands these
rules. And yet there are still yahoos who own and use guns but don't
respect their extraordinary power.
Once again, there is a myth about guns, and now it's being perpetuated
by our highest leadership—the myth that accidents happen.
There are none. There are only gun consequences. It would be nice
if our leaders could at least show enough responsibility to admit
that. But that's wishful thinking. More and more, it looks like
we're just a bunch of children, playing with toys that we don't
understand, and don't deserve to own.
Paolo Bacigalupi is a contributor to Writers on
the Range, a service of High Country News, in Paonia, Colorado.
He is the editor of the paper’s Web site, hcn.org.