Strays problem in small towns

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Melrose Mayor Lance Pyle said stray animals are becoming a major problem.

Though the village has created a part-time position for an animal control officer, Pyle said there have been no viable prospects for the job.

“We’re a small community and the residents are going to have to help us police the community on this item,” Pyle said. “People are going to have to stand up and help us.”

Residents can photograph and/or confine animals that don’t pose a threat and call the village police officer, Pyle said. Pyle said animal owners can be fined for not controlling their pets.

Melrose’s animal holding facilities are being improved, Pyle said, so animals are transported to Clovis’ shelter and the owners have to pay associated fees.

Likewise, the city of Texico sends its strays to Clovis, and like Melrose, struggles in the absence of a dedicated animal control officer, Deputy City Clerk Lupe Loera said.

“It’s a problem, but if there’s no funding to pay for animal control (what can you do?),” Loera said.

“We get a lot of complaints. Especially right now there’s a really bad outbreak of cats.” Loera said the city provides cat traps to residents, which helps, but doesn’t eliminate the problem.

Across the border, Farwell has little trouble with strays, City Secretary Tonya Meeks said.

Farwell’s sewer maintenance man does double-duty as a dog catcher, making rounds in the morning to check for strays. Animals he finds are taken to a city-owned barn where they are held until claimed by their owners. If unclaimed they are euthanized, she said.

“Most of the time it’s just somebody’s dog that’s gotten out,” she said.

Clovis animal control accepts animals from Curry County for a $6.50 fee, Supervisor Louisa Maestas said. Rural county residents often bring animals in, and “A lot of people say that (dogs are) being dropped off out there,” she said.

“When they find out that they have to pay for them, they get a little upset,” she said.

But Clovis’ primary responsibility is to serve the city. “Sometimes we have to send them away because we’re full. We only have 30 cages,” she said.