Members serving on Clovis’ Animal Control Task Force euthanasia subcommittee visited Roswell’s animal shelter Thursday to observe the lethal injection process as conducted by animal control. They viewed three dogs being euthanized, toured the facility and talked with officials there.
Jal, Tucumcari, Clovis and Lovington are the only communities in the state still using gas, according to Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield.
Animal rights proponents have recently pressured Clovis to switch to lethal injection, citing imminent change in regulations that will prohibit gas chambers.
The following are the reactions and opinions of committee members based on interviews following their trip to Roswell:
City Commissioner Juan Garza Sr.:
The technician that was administering the injections did say that they put a little extra medicine in it to do it a little quicker. It took about 5 seconds. I don’t know if they used more medicine for (our benefit).
(I witnessed and had) no problem with the gas chamber. (Thursday) I did feel a little more sad for the animals because you are touching the animal. They have to shave the leg and put a muzzle on the mouth. There’s nothing humane about killing an animal — the human element kicks in when you’re touching the animal. (The technician told me) it was hard at first but he got used to it and I thought, ‘Well, you get used to it because you’re getting big bucks to do it.’
My opinion about killing the animal is you’re still killing (them either way) I think everybody’s missing the point. If we have a spay and neuter program, you’re not killing as many animals.
My concern is the cost at this point in time. Everybody keeps saying that it’s inevitable, that it’s going to happen. But I think spaying and neutering should be more of a focus.
The big issue is responsible pet owners — (animals may be) cute when they’re small but when they get bigger they eat more and they get destructive — it is the pet owner’s responsibility and I think that’s my whole concern is that we don’t have anything in place.
Roswell has contracted technicians to administer lethal injections. The issue with me has always been not so much the way they kill the animal, (but) the cost. They have a $300,000 a year budget and I think they said (about) half of that goes for the technicians (and the euthanasia).
Our budget is around $240,000 to $250,000, and that includes the gas that we pay for.
And (Roswell’s) having problems right now too because they have a lot of animals coming in.
Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield:
I’ve never viewed any type of animal euthanasia until (Thursday) and have not seen the gas chamber. They came through the door and one would hold the dog and the other one put a muzzle on it and shaved its leg. I was shocked at how quick it was. Some times they said with cats they have to (use pre-anesthetic) but they didn’t with these. We watched a total of three. I’ve never witnessed any type of euthanasia but I thought they handled it very well. They were very gentle (and) the efficiency is what amazed me.
I was impressed (Thursday) with the kindness. I just thought the dogs kind of died in peace.
They said they do 70 a week. One of the guys was with the shelter when they had the gas chamber and he said ‘I would never go back.’ I feel like this is more humane and for them it was more efficient as well.
I’ve had no preconceived notion from the beginning of this because I just wasn’t aware of either way. I don’t have pets (I have allergies) … so I’ve never had to take one to the vet and have it put down. Either way (of euthanasia) wasn’t really on my radar screen.
It kind of just aggravated me that people don’t take care of their pets. The pets don’t have a say in that. I really think that we need to focus on our spay and neuter programs and pet licensing.
I don’t think you’re going to get anybody that’s really going to be a proponent for the gas chamber because I think that they think it’s going away.
One thing that I have found is that people love their animals. I’ve had calls from a couple people in Santa Fe and I’ve had a lot of calls from Clovis people.
With the public opinion on pets and animals, I don’t think they’ll have any trouble getting (regulations against gas) through (and) if it’s going to be mandated anyway, and it looks like it’s going to be, I think we need to look at moving forward.
We’re smart people here in Clovis and we can figure it out. You just kind of have to think a little bit out of the box — I just think we need to think creative and proactively. What I would hate to do is get caught a year from now. I would hate for us not to at least be thinking this way. I’m not saying we have to be ready to change Sept. 1, I just think we need to look at it, think of a plan and move us that way.
Dr. David Hudson, veterinarian:
It was very informative. Roswell was very hospitable to us and answered a lot of our concerns and questions that we had.
They answered a lot of questions for me regarding spay and neuter programs and the comparisons between our facility and their facility.
I’d rather not comment until I give my report to the task force. I feel that if I’m tasked to serve on this task force I should report to them before I report to the public. I want our task force to be fully informed because it was a good trip.
Commissioner Len Vohs attended, but did not return a call seeking comment.