Planned task force devoted to animal control

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Plans to establish an animal control task force will be on the agenda at the June 5 City Commission meeting.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The city of Clovis plans to establish a task force to develop strategies to deal with animal control, City Manager Joe Thomas said.

Formation of the task force will be on the agenda for the June 5 City Commission meeting, Thomas said.

Among other issues, the task force will work to develop a transfer program to find alternate accommodations when possible for animals destined to be euthanized at the shelter, create strategies for a proactive spay and neuter program and examine lethal injection as an alternative to gassing animals, he said.

The task force will be comprised of a city commissioner and a citizen from each of the four city districts and supporting staff members from the city. Representatives from Cannon Air Force Base or Curry County may also be included, Thomas said.

Formation of the task force comes on the heels of concerns raised by animal welfare proponents regarding the city’s animal shelter and handling of animal population issues.

In early May, the governor’s office contacted Thomas and forwarded e-mails to him it had received regarding concerns about the Clovis Animal Shelter, Thomas said.

In a four-page response letter, Thomas addressed the concerns point-by-point and informed the governor he had met with the concerned parties in April to discuss operations of the Clovis Animal Shelter.

Some of the allegations Thomas addressed in his letter to the governor were that Clovis “kills record numbers of dogs and cats,” is unwilling to discontinue use of the gas chamber and uses execution as a means of population control.

Thomas stated in his letter the shelter works with several rescue groups to find alternatives to euthanization but realistically has to destroy some of the animals it takes in.

“An alternative within our budgetary constraints has not been identified other than our current method,” Thomas wrote. “The current method of gassing animals is extremely quick, taking just a few seconds, and is conducted humanely under strict conditions by the caring staff who work at the shelter.”

Thomas said in mid-May there was a second meeting between city personnel and animal welfare proponents to discuss a proactive spay and neuter program and other issues.

Alarie Ray-Garcia, spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Richardson, said that while, “the governor takes these types of concerns very seriously,” after reviewing the concerns, Richardson referred the matter back to the city.

“We felt it was a local issue. … He is hopeful that the city is addressing the concerns that were raised,” she said.

Thomas said a video placed on YouTube months ago, alleging mistreatment of animals at the Clovis Animal Shelter, sparked the interest of animal welfare proponents from Santa Fe and California.

While Thomas said the video “was completely false (because) it was taken (in a place) other than in Clovis, but alluded it was taking place in Clovis,” city officials are working to address concerns that surfaced as a result.

By the numbers:

3,543 — Dogs and cats received in 2007

2,457 — Dogs and cats euthanized in 2007

Source: 2007 Clovis Police Department annual report