Animal shelter officials: Animal euthanizations dropping

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Valissa Taggart of Clovis fills out an application for city pet licenses for her two cats Tuesday’s at the Clovis Animal Shelter while Animal Control Officer Dennis Weist provides assistance.

Kevin Wilson

City and animal groups are seeing inroads in reducing animals who visit the animal shelter.

According to the annual report from the Clovis Police Department — which oversees the Clovis Animal Shelter — the shelter is seeing drops in euthanizations and pet donations over the last two years.

In 2008, there were 1,479 animals donated to the shelter — 1,012 dogs and 467 cats. Over the last two years, those numbers have dropped to 1,430 (1,005 dogs, 425 cats) and 1,208 in 2010 (837 dogs, 471 cats).

Even though stray animal numbers are similar, fewer animals checking in means fewer are checking out, so to speak.

The shelter euthanized 1,939 animals last year. That’s up from last year’s total of 1,886 but is a 12.5 percent drop from 2,215 animals euthanized in 2008.

Linda Cross, the spay/neuter coordinator for the High Plains Human Society, said a combination of a low-cost spay and neuter program by area veterinarians and numerous spay and neuter clinics throughout the last three years are showing some impact.

“We started up last fall,” Cross said of the society. “Before that, we started as the Clovis Animal Task Force to address some of the problems we had. One goal was to have an aggressive spay and neuter program implemented so we could lower the numbers.”

She estimates 500 animals have gone through the program, and another 114 are scheduled.

Martin Martinez, an officer at the shelter, also credits efforts by rescue groups to cut euthanization numbers.

“In lieu of euthanasia, we mark the animals,” Martinez said. “They pick from those dogs that are on there. That has helped us from euthanizing more. They take these animals to Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Roswell. They essentially give them additional time to get adopted.”

The shelter has about 400 animals reclaimed every year, and Martinez said pet owners have to pay a $60 fee to reclaim any pet. Of that total, there is a $25 spay/neuter deposit, a $20 administrative fee, a $10 fee for a current rabies shot and a $5 fee per day at the shelter.

“The only part the pound sees is $5,” said Martinez. He said if an animal is spayed or neutered and is current on shots, the charge is $15 because those fees are waived and the administrative fee is halved.

Martinez said that whether it’s double-checking that a gate is closed or taking initiative to spay and neuter pets, precautionary measures save pet owners time and money in the long run.

“I think people are becoming more aware of taking care of their animals,” Martinez said. “That’s just part of being a pet owner.”

Cross said it takes three to five years to see effects of a spay/neuter program, a time period that covers about two generations of offspring.

“It’s exponential,” Cross said of the impact, “because you think of the dog having the litter, and each litter is on average, I’d say six to eight animals, and they have offspring.”

The effort, Cross said, is concentrated on the areas of Clovis that have the most reports of stray animals.