New Mexico's Pet ResourceWINTER 2002


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to provide a different picture of what is happening at Valencia County Animal Control. Although the two-day cleanup of the shelter, which was featured in the Fall/Winter 2001 issue (, was a kind and generous gesture on the part of the people who participated, it is not the entire story.

During my more than 10 years as a fieldworker with the Alliance Against Animal Abuse, it became painfully obvious that when the President of the Alliance, Barbara Tellier, and I reported cruelty and neglect cases to Valencia County Animal Control, nothing was ever done. During the course of our early negotiations with County officials and Steve Sanchez, then-Director of Animal Control, Mr. Sanchez admitted that in his 14 years on the job, he had never seized a single animal or issued a cruelty or neglect citation. He also told us that he euthanized dogs by using the intracardiac or "heart stab" method. Although we convinced him that this method was prohibited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, The Humane Society of the United States, Veterinarians for Animal Rights, PETA and most humane organizations, that method is still being used at Valencia County Animal Control. I even went so far as to pay to have the staff retrained in euthanasia. The County took my money, sent the staff to training, and they are still using the heart stab method.

When all negotiations failed to persuade the County to use an acceptable and humane method to euthanize (intravenous) and to investigate and prosecute cruelty, I gathered over 800 signatures of registered voters in Valencia County and filed a petition for a grand jury investigation into the cruelty at the shelter and the County's refusal to enforce the animal ordinances.

There are 47 witnesses to direct cruelty at the shelter and to cruelty and neglect cases being ignored by Animal Control. The grand jury will also be looking at mismanagement of County funds. Valencia is a poor county and the shelter is so decrepit, it should be torn down. Imagine my disgust in learning that the Chair of the County Commission spent over $180,000 of the public's money to purchase a pet crematorium.

When I filed my lawsuit against Albuquerque Animal Services, every local and national group (except the Alliance) fought my efforts. One group even went so far as to publish a story about how humane AAS was during the trial!

I have always been a strong proponent of municipal animal control centers and have worked with them closely in every city where I have lived. When I discovered the cruelty at Albuquerque Animal Services, Valencia County Animal Control and this week at Aztec Animal Control, I was, and still am, devastated. However, I know that I must do everything I can, even if it means filing lawsuits and being unpopular with the local humane groups, to stop the cruelty to impounded animals. When local humane groups try to deflect attention away from the atrocities at Valencia County Animal Control, this impedes progress, the animals are made to suffer longer and my work is made more difficult and expensive.

If anyone has questions about Valencia County Animal Control, Aztec Animal Control, the grand jury petition or if anyone needs help with their animal control or lack thereof in their counties, please call me at 505-292-1472.

Marcy Britton

For Linda Cisneros's reply, click here: Linda Cisneros
For the original story by Judy Babcock of Quixote Humane, click here: Judy Babcock

HOME   NM Resources   Archives   Links   Top