VALENCIA VOLUNTEERS ASSIST IN ANIMAL SHELTER IMPROVEMENTS
By Judy Babcock, Quixote Humane Inc.
AHA Emergency Kennels
Used during the Los Alamos fire, these temporary kennels are small, but efficient in holding the dogs while the kennels were cleaned and painted.
The Valencia County Animal Shelter was built in the mid seventies. It is a solid structure that, at the time, was a vast improvement in humane animal care in the county. As the county has grown, the shelter has not grown with it. The shelter was originally built with eighteen runs. The inside kennels were designed to be four feet wide by six feet long with guillotine closures to separate the inside from the outside twelve-foot section of the runs. To make room for the ever-increasing number of dogs impounded, the openings from the inside to outside were bricked off, doubling the number of holding areas.
The interior kennels do not have access to sunlight and the exterior runs are exposed at one end. The roof extends over the exterior runs, but in inclement weather the wind can blow rain and snow into those areas. Of course, without a wall there is no insulation from the cold in those runs.
Kennels Prior to Painting
This pup and his roommate share one of the outside, four by twelve foot kennels. Years of use have built up a layer of grime on the floors and lower parts of the walls.
The old wood and wire cages in the cat room have recently been replaced with stainless steel cages that sit on wooden storage bins, and the room has been painted. Unfortunately, there is not a good air exchange inside the cat room and the fan in the inside kennels does not provide sufficient ventilation to help prevent airborne cross- contamination in either area. One positive aspect of the lack of exterior walls in the outdoor kennels is that they do get good airflow.
Because there is not enough room to keep empty kennels, dogs are moved from a dirty run to a recently cleaned one as the kennel men go down the line to clean. Partly because of equipment failure, there is some concern that the kennels are not disinfected well enough whenever new dogs are introduced, so disease is readily spread.
Kennels After Painting
The dogs seem to be happier with the brighter kennels, as well. These two dogs are an example of some of the beautiful animals that pass through the Valencia County Shelter.
Animal activist Marcy Britton has made allegations of animal cruelty against Valencia County. She has gathered signatures on a petition asking a judge to convene a Grand Jury to investigate inhumane conditions at the shelter, methods of euthanasia, lack of investigation of abuse cases, and any other illegal acts. This process is ongoing.
In the meantime, Steven Chavez, acting zoning administrator, presented several recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, in an effort to update some of the systems of handling and conditions at the shelter. Among them: changing the hours so that the shelter would be open for adoptions and reclaims on Saturdays; enclosing the outdoor kennels; developing "standard operating procedures" for handling abuse cases, strays, neglect cases and other officers' duties; creating a registration and licensing program; and hiring a fourth Animal Control officer.
The Valencia County Board of Commissioners has proposed and passed a revenue bond that would include $265,556.03 to remodel the kennels and $30,000 for vehicles. There is a three-year time limit to spend these funds, starting in October of 2001. These funds cannot be used for any other purpose, once the list of expenditures is approved.
Animal Protection of New Mexico and Animal Humane of New Mexico have offered assistance in restructuring, training and educating staff. Quixote Humane, a coalition of several animal rescue groups in Valencia County, has offered to research information, compile standard operating procedures, find volunteers to assist in the office and kennels, and help make improvements to the facility and grounds.
Kennels in White and Three Happy Puppies
The new, white paint on the kennel walls help to brighten even the outside kennels. The new paint will be easier to clean and disinfect. These puppies will have a better chance of staying healthy until they leave the shelter.
Staffing is in turmoil. Steven Chavez of Planning and Zoning has recently resigned his position to return to the practice of law. Assistant County Planner Ruben Chavez will be temporarily handling Animal Control. Steve Sanchez, the manager at the animal shelter, has also resigned, as well as several of the kennel workers. At the time of this writing, the County was actively seeking a new Animal Control Manager and an additional Animal Control Officer.
On the last Saturday and Sunday in August, Quixote Humane organized a "Shelter Cleanup Weekend." Valencia County supplied the materials, and Joel Warner, Executive Director, and Armando Hernandez, Community Services Director of Animal Humane of New Mexico, gathered a van full of volunteers to come to the shelter to power wash the kennel walls and floors and to pull weeds and clean the grounds. Animal Services of Albuquerque donated the use of a second power washer, with direction by manager Bob Hillman. On Sunday, volunteers from many of the rescue organizations in Valencia County and members of the community rolled up their sleeves and went to work painting the thirty-six kennel spaces. While they rested between painting sessions, they raked up the old weeds and burned them. About thirty volunteers joined in to clean and brighten the kennels and grounds.
"The County is sincerely appreciative for the efforts and the partnership that has developed between the County and the volunteers and advocates for the humane treatment of animals, " said James Fernandez, Valencia County Manager. "This is a wonderful example of what good can be achieved when the citizens and local government partner to work together to address areas of mutual concern."
The Wall of Shame
Collars from some of the thousands of dogs euthanized are hung on the chain link fence at the back of the shelter. A grim reminder that some of these lost and unwanted animals had owners who, at some point, cared.
With renewed public interest, new staffing, and a financial plan for improvement, there is no question that there will be changes at the Valencia County Animal Shelter. It is up the citizens of the county to make sure that the direction is positive and that we never forget our obligation and commitment to our animals. The sad fact is that 6205 animals were impounded in the year 2000 at the Valencia County Animal Shelter, and 5866 were euthanized. As of August 27th, 3217 dogs and cats had already been euthanized. Change needs to go beyond the conditions at the shelter and into the community
For more information on Quixote Humane and how you can help, check their website at www.quixotehumane.org.
For Marcy Britton's letter in response to this article, click here: Marcy Britton
For Linda Cisneros's reply to Ms. Britton, click here: Linda Cisneros
The City of Albuquerque Animal Services Division holds a mini-adoptathon on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 10 AM to 4 PM at Lowe's on Paseo del Norte. Of the 15 to 20 animals brought to each event, about 11 are adopted. ASD also invites rescue organizations it works with to participate. If you're interested in volunteering to help with the adoptathons or at ASD shelters, please call (505) 768-1934 for information about monthly orientation meetings.
DOGS OF SUMMER PHOTO CONTEST
ABQDog.com, a website providing information for the Albuquerque dog, announces its first annual "Dogs of Summer" photo contest to benefit the Albuquerque Animal Humane Association (AHANM). Besides being featured on ABQDog's website, contest winners, depicting dogs enjoying summer in the Albuquerque area, will be feted at AHANM's Annual "Doggie Dash," to be held at PetsMart on Sunday, November 4. Their owners will receive canine-friendly prizes provided by local merchants. Details about the contest can be found on the website at www.ABQDog.com. For more information, contact Rebecca Loring, Editor, ABQDog (505) 250-0325.
A.C.A.T. NOTABLE DATES
Every Saturday: From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Albuquerque Cat Action Team (A.C.A.T.) has cat and kitten adoptions at PETCO, 6300 San Mateo, NE (Far North Shopping Center). Call (505) 323-2228 for more information or visit our website at www.albcat.com.
September 8: Entertainment Books go on sale at A.C.A.T. adoption clinics at PETCO and via phone requests. By purchasing from A.C.A.T., you REALLY help the cats!
September 21: McDonald's Fundraiser 5-8 p.m. only at the McDonald's on 4th Street NW (5324 Fourth Street). You can download a copy of the flyer or ad from our website (www.albcat.com) or call 323-2228 to have one sent to you. Present your flyer with any purchase and a portion of sales will be donated by McDonald's to A.C.A.T.
October 27: A.C.A.T. Halloween Bake Sale at PETCO, 11-4. Your support will help pay for general medical care and for A.C.A.T.'s feral cat program.
October 27-28: Enchanted Cat Show at State Fairgrounds. A.C.A.T. hopes to have a booth at the cat show to sell our wonderful cat-lover's gift items.
October thru December: United Way Campaign at many employers. A.C.A.T. is proud to be an approved agency to receive donations through United Way contributions. Please think of A.C.A.T. when making your pledges for 2002. Our A.C.A.T. specific United Way code will be listed in the brochure you receive from your agency representative, or you can write in Albuquerque Cat Action Team.
November 18: Purina Cat Chow Way of Life Tour at Cottonwood Mall. A.C.A.T. will have cats available for adoption at the event. The tour also features many fun and informative free events, including cat and kitten training demonstrations and answers to your questions from highly trained cat "mentors", special gala event sponsored by Purina.
December 15: A.C.A.T. Christmas Bake Sale at PETCO, 11-4. Your support will help pay for general medical care and for A.C.A.T.'s feral cat program.
December 20, 22, 23: Christmas Gift Wrapping Fundraiser at Barnes and Noble, Coronado Shopping Center (Barnes & Noble is where the old Walgreen's was). Dec. 20 from 6-9 p.m.; Dec. 22 from 1-9 p.m.; and Dec. 23 from 1-7 p.m. Donations will be taken for wrapping your Christmas gifts purchased at Barnes & Noble. All donations directly benefit A.C.A.T.'s medical fund.
A.C.A.T.'s website can be found at www.albcat.com.
Do a Feral a Favor: Try Trap-Neuter-Return
Stray cats in your hometown need more than just a handout. Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the simple, humane way to care for feral cats, by trapping, spay/neutering, and returning them to their territories to be cared for by community volunteers.
Would you (and your neighbors) like to know more? Visit Alley Cat Allies for details:
www.alleycat.org or 1801 Belmont Rd., NW, Suite 201, Washington, DC 20009
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