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N.M. Law Gives Antifreeze Bite to Keep Dogs at Bay

The toxic fluid must be made with a bitter taste so animals won't be tempted to lap it up.

April 01, 2005|From Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. — Scooby got his due Thursday, as the governor signed into law a requirement that antifreeze have a bitter taste to deter dogs from lapping it up.

Scooby, a golden retriever from Bernalillo, N.M., had to be destroyed in 2003 after drinking the poisonous liquid. His death prompted an Albuquerque ordinance a year ago, and now the statewide requirement.

"Scooby's Law is now official," Gov. Bill Richardson said at a ceremony in his office.

The law will protect not only animals, but also children who may be tempted to drink the sweet-tasting and highly toxic substance, the governor said.

Witnessing the bill signing -- with his forepaws resting briefly on the big marble table -- was 4-month-old Dukes, a black-and-gray bundle of puppy energy rescued from an animal shelter and owned by Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chavez.

Chavez said the new law means lives would be saved, "and that's as good as it gets in government."

As New Mexico joins Oregon and California in mandating the manufacture of bitter-tasting antifreeze, Chavez also said he was confident a federal Scooby's Law would one day be enacted.

Animals drink antifreeze that has leaked out of cars, been dumped in open areas or been left out purposely by people trying to poison them.

Rep. Kathy McCoy, the bill's sponsor, lost a dog to antifreeze poisoning, "and it's an excruciating death and something no dog should ever have to go through," she said.

Under the new law, antifreeze manufactured after July 1 must be bitter-tasting.

Richardson also signed a measure aimed at protecting New Mexicans from dangerous dogs. It would authorize animal control authorities, with court warrants, to seize and impound dogs determined to be dangerous or potentially dangerous.

Owners of such dogs could be required to register them, keep them in fenced yards or locked pens, neuter them, and take them to socialization programs. Under certain circumstances, the dogs could be ordered destroyed.

Owners whose dogs, without provocation, cause serious injury or death to domestic animals could be guilty of a felony.

"Pet owners must take responsibility for their animals or be held accountable," the governor said.

The governor was joined at the bill signing by 5-year-old Emma-Leigh Chambers-Allen of Los Chavez, who was mauled by a neighbor's pit bull in June.

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