Animal shelter turning away animals

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis Animal Shelter is turning animals away this week while it awaits a resupply of carbon monoxide for its gas chamber, according to police Capt. Ron Hutchison.

Hutchison said it is merely a temporary supply issue and he hopes the gas will be delivered next week.

“We’re asking people to be patient,” Hutchison said Thursday afternoon. “We will do our best to get back on track. We realize that we have a responsibility to the community.”

Existing gas is being reserved for sick or injured animals, Hutchison said, and people dropping off their own animals are being asked to keep them until next week.

Shelter supervisor Louisa Maestas said the facility has 30 kennels and as of Wednesday had 31 animals.

Animal control officers are still responding to calls and are impounding animals as needed, she said.

But feral cat traps are not being loaned out and staff is advising people who come to drop off animals to try placing ads and try to find homes for their animals, or if nothing else, bring them back next week.

Maestas said the problem was compounded by higher drop-off numbers this month and the fact volunteer rescue groups aren’t taking animals, which means more are euthanized.

In July, the shelter took in 359 animals, up from an average of 250, she said.

Dion Vankuren, a volunteer with the Clovis Animal Welfare League, said in 2007 her group transferred 150 animals from Clovis to other communities where they are found homes. So far this year, she said they have transferred 250, but are now at a standstill.

“I’ve had people tell me ‘No, we just can’t take them in right now,’” she said.

“I take them all the way to Albuquerque and Colorado, and even if you call the bigger cities, they (are having the same problems).”

She said in a tough economy, people can’t afford the expense of caring for an animal.