ALLIED FOR ANIMALS:
The Companion Animal Alliance of Northern New Mexico
By Bill Hutchison
Collaborations among animal welfare organizations are complicated. We all realize we can help more animals by working together, but our different approaches to how we can best help animals often derail even the most earnest of coalitions.. For the sake of the animals we have all pledged to help, however, we must find a way to work together.. More and more groups throughout the country are founding such coalitions, and New Mexico is no exception. More than a dozen organizations came together in the summer of 2006 to form the Companion Animal Alliance of Northern New Mexico. It has been an incredible success, and just keeps getting stronger.
The Alliance in a Nutshell
The Alliance is composed of shelters, sanctuaries, rescue groups, veterinarians, and other animal welfare and control agencies. Founding members include Animal Protection of New Mexico, Bridging the Worlds, City of Santa Fe Animal Services, Dixon Animal Protection Society, Espanola Valley Humane Society, Felines & Friends, Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary, Los Alamos Friends of the Shelter, Pecos People for Animal Welfare Society, Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, Santa Fe County Animal Control, and the Veterinary Association of Northern New Mexico.
The vision of the Alliance is an ambitious one, but certainly worth devoting tremendous effort to. The Alliance’s goal is a northern New Mexico where animal organizations, the legal system, and humane education programs work together to raise the bar for the treatment of companion animals. Hopefully in northern New Mexico that means all healthy and treatable cats and dogs, regardless of age, breed, or disability, will be placed in good homes with responsible caretakers who will have access to affordable, quality pet care services.
Every member of the Alliance recognizes what a tremendously important, extraordinarily ambitious and incredibly difficult mission that is. But every member of the Alliance also signed on to not just make things a little better for the animals with whom we all share our lives and our community, but to change things on a grand scale. By building a group of animal welfare organizations, we can share resources and potentially have access to grants and other funding that is currently unavailable.
The biggest strength the combined voices of so many authorities on animal welfare have is the ability to affect laws, ordinances, programs and policies. New Mexico has a reputation for lagging behind – certainly understandable, considering that cockfighting was only outlawed this year. Northern New Mexico has a chance to become one of the most progressive communities for companion animals in the country. From large shelters like the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society and Espanola Valley Humane Society to specialized organizations like Animal Protection of New Mexico and Felines & Friends, every member of the Alliance wants to improve the lives of cats and dogs.
How the Alliance Makes a Difference
The two cornerstones of the Alliance programs are adoptions and spay/neuter. If our goal is to find homes for all healthy and treatable animals, controlling overpopulation is the most important place to begin. The Alliance has held two large group adoption events, the most recent of which was Saturday, April 22, 2007 at BODY, a spa in Santa Fe Every animal person will tell you that overpopulation is a community problem, and it takes the community to solve it. At these large adoption events, it is clear that the community is ready to help. Dozens of animals found new, loving homes, and each individual organization had an opportunity to talk to those visiting the event about the many programs and services they provide.
The other part of controlling overpopulation is an aggressive spay/neuter campaign. The Alliance has sponsored two major spay/neuter events with more to come. The first, a trial run that altered pit bulls and pit bull mixes at no cost to their owners, was called “Pit Stop.” By using the clinics of both large shelters and tapping into the talents of some very kind local veterinarians (and with the support of a generous anonymous donor), the Alliance was able to spay and neuter dozens of unaltered pit bulls. By waiving the surgery fees, many owners were able to also take the opportunity to update the vaccinations of their favorite companions. The next mass spay day, held in February, was even more amazing. At more than a dozen different locations throughout Santa Fe, Española, and elsewhere in northern New Mexico, over 100 animals were altered in a single day. It was a drop in the bucket, but as we know in New Mexico, every drop counts.
The Future of the Alliance
A year-plus into the project, the Alliance is in the process of laying out its plans for the next few years. By creating a strategy, the coalition is moving toward the most important part of any group working for animals: turning the grand dream into a workable reality. As with all animal welfare work, goals are reached one step at a time. While it may take time for all these goals to be accomplished, one thing is clear – every single Alliance member will work until it happens. For the animals of northern New Mexico, a new – and brighter – future is coming.
For more information about the Companion Animal Alliance of Northern New Mexico, email Bill Hutchison, Communications Manager of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected. - Chief Seattle