Tucumcari dog attack 'never should have happened'

Feb. 7—TUCUMCARI — An animal rescue worker said a pack of dogs had been roaming Tucumcari for weeks prior to the dog attack that killed a man last Wednesday.

City officials said they were unaware of such a report, though City Manager Paula Chacon said police officers had picked up three roaming dogs near the Tucumcari Recreation Center prior to the attack.

New Mexico State Police said Stanley Hartt, 64, was attacked and killed by five mixed-breed dogs as he was walking down 11th Street near Gamble Avenue, about a mile and a half from the recreation center.

The death "never should have happened," said Kathi McClelland, president of the Paws & Claws Animal Rescue of Quay County.

"There were reports of dogs roaming and killing small animals for quite some time before this ever happened, and the city never did anything about it," McClelland said.

Chacon said police told her they were unaware of any pack of dogs roaming near where Hartt was killed.

McClelland warned pet owners to be more cautious.

"If it were me walking my dog, I would assess the neighborhood before I took off with my dog," she said.

McClelland said having a dog neutered or spayed should lower the risk of violent, marauding animals. Tucumcari's only veterinarian, however, is booked weeks or months in advance for such procedures.

McClelland said Paws & Claws has been directing pet owners to a low-cost spay-and-neuter clinic in Amarillo. She said the shelter schedules a time each month for spaying or neutering animals there, and Paws & Claws will offer slots to the public if they're available and transport the animals.

"They only thing they'd have to do is pay the 40 or 50 bucks to get them done, and we'll bring them home to you," she said.

Chacon said a full-time animal control officer likely will begin work in the city sometime this week. She said Tucumcari Police had been handling animal complaints.

New Mexico State Police are looking into the death. An NMSP spokesman stated in an email Friday that "no names will be released at this time" about the dogs' owners while the case was being investigated.

Police said one animal involved in the attack on Hartt has been euthanized. The other four will remain at the city shelter until police complete their investigation.