City Commissioners discuss animal euthanization

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Clovis is creating a task force to work on controlling the pet population.

The City Commission heard an offer from Animal Protection of New Mexico to change euthanasia methods at the Clovis Animal Shelter.

Most of Thursday’s meeting was dedicated to testimony from local veterinarians and APNM employees. The issue was the carbon monoxide chamber used by the animal shelter to euthanize animals.

There are four chambers left in the state — Clovis, Jal, Lovington and Tucumcari — and APNM Legislative Director Heather Ferguson said future legislation would likely force those cities to move to the more popular method of injectable euthanasia.

The gas chamber process takes 20-25 minutes and can kill animals in a few minutes, but APNM member Claudia Roll said sick, pregnant and elderly animals may take longer to die. Injections, Roll said, are a quicker and more humane measure for a touchy subject.

“We’re talking about ending the lives of animals,” Roll said. “Some of them aren’t aggressive, they’re healthy and energetic and they’d be very happy to sit on someone’s couch.”

The sentiments were echoed by Clovis veterinarian Jack Murphy, who said injections would reduce stress for the animal control officers as well.

“I’m not trying to equate animal death with human death,” Murphy said, “but there is emotion involved.”

The shelter received 3,543 cats and dogs last year, and euthanized 2,457 of them, according to the Clovis Police Department’s annual report.

Ferguson and APNM, a non-profit organization with seven full-time employees, offered to pay for a year’s supply of injections, training and transition from a chamber to injections. Ferguson said APNM would rather animal control staffs be aided with early transitions than be rushed into a state-mandated one.

David Hudson, another Clovis veterinarian, spoke on the need for more spaying and neutering opportunities, calling it “the root of the problem” for animal overpopulation.

The task force, as unanimously approved by the commission, would consider spaying/neutering issues, euthanasia issues, discussion on animal control ordinances and public education. It will include nine voting members — one commissioner from each district, one citizen from each district and an at-large citizen, possibly from Cannon Air Force Base.

Mayor Gayla Brumfield welcomed APNM members to take part in the task force in informational roles.