Commissioner opposed to animal euthanasia change

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

City Commissioner Juan Garza Sr. said he resents a push to change the euthanization method at the Clovis Animal Shelter, terming it the work of special interest groups from outside the community.

After taking a week to research the issue, he said he will recommend at Tuesday’s Animal Control Task Force subcommittee meeting that the city stick with the current carbon monoxide gas chamber instead of switching to lethal injection.

“I got a little upset over the last meeting we had. It’s ludicrous to (Switch to lethal injection),” he said.

“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the lethal injection is more humane than the gas. Why are we listening to somebody from outside of New Mexico instead of local?”

The euthanasia subcommittee of the Animal Control Task Force met last week to discuss the issue.

Representatives from Animal Protection of New Mexico from Albuquerque and a California animal rights proponent pushed for the switch at last week’s meeting.

APNM members promised financial support to get Clovis started in the new system but urged a quick decision, telling committee members their time and money would become scarce if the city delayed.

They said the initial conversion would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 with ongoing, per-animal costs ranging from $5 to $18.

Last year, Clovis Animal Control euthanized 2,547 animals.

The committee, which consists of city and animal control officials, residents and veterinarians, declined to vote on a recommendation, and instead agreed to meet again Tuesday in anticipation of the next task force meeting July 24.

Members said they did not have enough information and needed more time to look into the issue.

There are six voting members on the 11-member subcommittee, which can make recommendations to the task force, according to city spokeswoman Claire Burroughes.

The task force was created in June in response to criticisms of Clovis’ animal control programs by animal rights groups.

In an effort to be thorough, multiple subcommittees were created to study and discuss specific animal control issues that were brought up by animal rights proponents, she said.

The task force will make a recommendation to the city commission.

After studying the issue, Garza said he is convinced the city should not adopt the plan proposed by APNM.

He said he believes it will be more costly, time consuming and more traumatic for humans and animals alike.

“There’s something behind this group. What it is, I can’t put my finger on it. … It is a special interest group and that bothers me because they are doing it for one interest and not for the betterment of the whole community. If I thought it was more economical or less stressful for our employees, I would support it,” he said.

“You’re killing an animal. How can that be humane? Gas is gas. You go to sleep, you don’t even smell it. A gas chamber I think is one of the things that make sense … There are other things that we can do to push our legislature to help us with (such as) spaying and neutering.”

• Euthanasia subcommittee voting members: City Commissioners Garza, Len Vohs and Ron Edwards, veterinarian Dr. David Hudson and citizens Betty Johnson and Linda Cross

Subcommittee meeting schedule:

• Euthanasia program — 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Chairwoman, Linda Cross.

• (Animal) Transfer Program — 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. Chairwoman, Jacque Wuest.

• Spay & Neuter Program — 7 p.m. July 21 at City Hall. Chairman, Dr. David Hudson.

• Animal Control Task Force — 5:30 p.m. July 24 at City Hall.