ANIMAL NEWS AND VIEWS
Animals Make Some Progress at State Capitol, Promise to be Back in 2005Animal protection issues struggled to be heard during the 2004 New Mexico legislative session—a 30-day assembly primarily for fiscal matters. Animal Protection Voters and other animal advocates lobbied our state lawmakers, letting them know that animal issues are important to New Mexicans. Some bills met opposition, while others passed easily. Still others simply ran out of time. That was the case for a comprehensive bill aimed at improving the lives of the countless homeless animals that end up in our public animal shelters each year.
ANIMAL SHELTERING SERVICES (SB 306; Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, sponsor): The Animal Sheltering Services Act—originally called the Animal Protective Services Act—would provide oversight and guidance to our public animal shelters. An Animal Sheltering Services Board would be created, with seven diverse members appointed by the governor, and charged with developing minimum standards for city- and county-operated shelters as well as those that contract with local governments to provide animal sheltering services. The board would also create a mechanism to ensure that these shelters provide humane euthanasia to unwanted animals by training and licensing euthanasia providers. In addition, the board would look at lessening the burden on shelters by reducing the numbers of animals coming through their doors.
The legislation sets up the framework of the board while many of the specifics are left to rules and regulations the board will make after it is established. The board would solicit public comments and hold public hearings as part of their rule-making process, giving the public a larger role in addressing issues surrounding animal shelters in the state.
This bill was passed by the Senate by a vote of 25-2 and was waiting for a vote from the full House when the session ended. There was broad support, as it was seen as a comprehensive way to ensure humane treatment of animals in shelters. Sen. Garcia was a tireless advocate and has pledged to reintroduce this bill in 2005. [Wondering who the two nay votes were? Sen. Michael Sanchez from Belen and Sen. Raymond Kysar from Farmington .]
BITTERING AGENT FOR ANTIFREEZE SAFETY (SB 50; Sen. Richard Romero, sponsor & HB 411; Rep. Joe Thompson, sponsor): After a high-profile antifreeze poisoning case in Bernalillo raised awareness of the danger posed by the sweet-but-deadly substance, the public demanded something be done to protect our pets from accidental and intentional poisoning. Lawmakers responded with measures mirroring Oregon and California statutes and a pending federal bill that requires ethylene glycol antifreeze contain a bittering agent to render it unpalatable. The city of Albuquerque set the pace by quickly enacting an antifreeze safety ordinance. Then two similar bills were introduced in the state legislature.
Adding a bittering agent is a simple and inexpensive solution (it would cost manufacturers about two cents per gallon) to a widespread—and underreported—problem. During the Senate floor debate on SB 50, three Senators stood up to share stories of their own dogs and cats being killed by antifreeze. This is a very painful way for animals to die: initially the animal may appear “drunk” or listless, but as the poison is metabolized it causes kidney failure within 12 to 36 hours. Only a few tablespoons need to be ingested and treatment by a veterinarian must occur within 9-12 hours to save the victim.
Unfortunately, these bills met with opposition from the antifreeze industry and were not able to navigate through the legislature in the allotted time. Animal advocates, including Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez, have pledged to bring this issue back during the longer 2005 session. In the meantime, Animal Protection Voters is collecting data on animals poisoned by antifreeze in New Mexico. If you have a story to share, please contact us—it will help us ensure antifreeze is safe for animals in New Mexico.
INTRA-CARDIAC EUTHANASIA (SB 51; Sen. Romero, sponsor): In response to improperly performed euthanasia at some shelters in the state, this bill outlaws intracardiac euthanasia of conscious animals—a procedure deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Injecting euthanasia drugs directly into the heart of an animal can cause pain and suffering unless the animal has been properly rendered unconscious prior to injection. This bill passed and at press time is awaiting the governor’s signature.
DISSECTION—Study virtual anatomy in education (HJM 8; Rep. Mimi Stewart, sponsor & SJM 22; Sen. Mary Kay Papen, sponsor): Students have objected to dissecting animals in the classroom for years. Some school districts and several states have guaranteed a student’s choice, requiring an instructional method be available that does not harm animals. Those “alternatives” have come a long way over the years as advanced technology has been applied to teaching biology and anatomy. Multimedia computer software are becoming increasingly popular among teachers and students alike—and not just out of concern for animals. Studies have shown that these methods provide as good or better educational opportunities than the old-school dissection.
In order to begin discussion on this topic in the state, the Legislative Education Study Committee put forth a memorial asking the state department of public education to study virtual anatomy as an alternative to the dissection of animal specimens. The memorial passed with little opposition. Animal Protection Voters will follow up with the public education department to see that the study is accomplished and move the discussion toward guaranteeing students’ right to chose virtual anatomy lessons over those involving specimen dissection. If you are a student, parent, teacher, or a concerned citizen who would like to get involved in this campaign, please contact Animal Protection Voters.
WILDLIFE AND HABITAT CONSERVATION—study sustainable funding mechanisms (HJM 37; Rep. Max Coll, sponsor & SJM 24; Sen. Papen, sponsor): New Mexico is full of unique landscapes and rare species of wildlife. Yet funding is almost completely geared toward game species. We need to protect our natural treasures and ensure the viability of all our wildlife for generations to come.
A memorial asking the state department of game and fish and the department of energy, minerals and natural resources to study various options for sustainable funding for conservation easily passed through the legislature. The study will not only look at the options, but also what options the public finds most favorable. The next step will be to see if any of these funding mechanisms can be implemented.
SPAY/NEUTER AWARENESS (HJM 79; Rep. Thompson, sponsor): The number of unwanted, homeless dogs and cats in this state is at crisis level. A number of factors lead to this situation, but spaying and neutering is one way to help stem the problem. Animal Protection Voters decided to help raise awareness of the overpopulation and the need to spay and neuter through a legislative memorial. Unfortunately the measure, which would have declared February Spay/Neuter Awareness Month, did not make it through the legislature. It easily passed the House and was waiting for a Senate vote when the session came to an end. Still, awareness was raised and efforts will
Danielle Bays is the campaign manager for Animal Protection Voters, an organization building political capital for animals statewide. If you would like to get involved in any of the legislative campaigns discussed in this article, please contact Danielle at 505-954-4262 or Danielle@apvnm.org.
Microchip your pet for just $25 with lifetime registration! The Avid® Friendchip TM was developed by a veterinarian and contains an identification number for your pet that will ensure his safe return if he is ever lost. Just like a vaccination, the microchip is injected under your pet’s skin where it will remain safely for life.
DISCOUNT MICROCHIPPING CLINICS
Come to the PETCO at 10700 Lomas NE (across from Target) on the third Saturday of each month from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. where the microchips will be administered by trained professionals. There is an additional savings when you bring three or more pets—you will pay just $20 per pet!
This will benefit the non-profit animal rescue groups Pick of the Pound and Little Bear Rescue. If you have adopted a dog from Pick of the Pound or Little Bear Rescue, bring in a copy of your contract to receive a $5 discount.
For additional information, contact Carla at Little Bear Rescue at 505-861-6821.
SECOND ANNUAL WALK THE DOG IN CORRALESCalling all dog lovers!!! On Sunday, May 23rd you are invited to participate in the Second Annual WALK THE DOG Benefit for Bro and Tracy Animal Welfare, Inc. and its Stella Foundation. This event is designed to give dog lovers a chance to come to Corrales and have fun with their dogs on a lovely 3-mile walk along a partly shaded dirt path bordering the acequia in Corrales. Registration is from 7:15-8:00 a.m. at Corrales Recreation Center.
Humans and Dogs will depart the Corrales Community Center between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. Walk as long as desired.
From 9:00 a.m. until Noon there will be activities at the Corrales Recreation Center, including demonstrations, fun competitions, rescue organizations and vendors.
The cost of $25 includes T-shirt featuring the ever popular Bro’s Moonlight Ride, fun pet show entry, and doggie bags (additional family members $15, under age 13 free but must be accompanied by an adult). Dog Lovers may pre-register online at www.broandtracy.org and pay with a credit card or mail registration form with a check.
All proceeds benefit Bro and Tracy Animal Welfare, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to helping individual animals and people. Our primary activity is photographing animals available for adoption and publishing them on the website www.broandtracy.org. Bro and Tracy’s Stella Foundation is a special fund to help provide veterinary care for recently adopted and foster animals. For more information contact Joyce Fay at 505-898-5433 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 8th the San Juan Animal League of Farmington and the La Plata County Humane Society of Durango will sponsor a workshop for teachers entitled Humane Education – Animals in the Classroom.
HUMANE EDUCATION WORKSHOP
This full-day workshop, presented by Dr. John Pitts of the Pet Care Trust, seeks to assist teachers in K-12 settings with selection, care and student responsibility for animals in a compassionate and responsible manner and to foster respect for life through appropriate animal interaction. The presentation includes health and safety protocols for students and animals.
The workshop will include a 100-page manual with suggested lesson plans for teaching science, math, animal behavior, nutrition, and geography with small mammals, aquarium fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Teachers completing the workshop receive a $125 certificate for equipment/supplies to support appropriate animals in classrooms.
Teachers and others interested in attending the workshop can contact the San Juan Animal League at 505-325-3366 or the La Plata County Humane Society at 970-259-2847.
Del Norte High School loves furry friends! To prove it, we will hold our first annual Pet Fiesta on April 24th from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., at Del Norte High School in the front parking lot at the corner of Montgomery and San Mateo in Albuquerque.
DEL NORTE HIGH SCHOOL PET FIESTA
During Pet Fiesta, there will be fun-filled activities for the family to enjoy, such as: pet costume contest, dog and cat tricks contest, adoption opportunities, food and beverage booths, and more.
The Pet Fiesta will be a day to educate the community and promote responsible pet care. This event will bring attention to the services and programs available to assist in pet ownership, pet overpopulation, and pet abuse issues in Bernalillo County.
Mark your calendar for a very special event! On Saturday, May 1st, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., A.C.A.T. will hold its first Spring Feline Fete! The event will be located at Inez Park, on the corner of Pennsylvania & Indian School, NE, Albuquerque.
SPRING FELINE FETE!
The fete will include a mid-year yard sale. Items for sale will be limited to books, videos, cds, jewelry and artwork of all kinds. Besides doing some shopping at the yard sale, you will be able to purchase raffle tickets for A.C.A.T.’s annual raffle and new gift items at our familiar gift table. All funds raised will be used to help our foster kitties.
We have arranged for some delightful entertainment for you as you browse. We will have face-painting for kids, tarot card readings, and all sellers will be in medieval costumes. We also expect to have some surprise entertainment for your pleasure!
A.C.A.T. is seeking donations of items for the yard sale. Items will be collected on each Saturday in April at the Albuquerque PETCO on San Mateo & Academy between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Please limit your items to the types identified above; we will hold our household goods yard sale in October. For more information, please contact A.C.A.T. at 505-323-2228 and leave a message for Susan.
Albuquerque area rescue groups are dedicating the month of March to seniors — both the feline and human variety. Any senior cat (over 5 years) will be 1/2 off the adoption fee to senior citizens. The groups that are participating in this effort to match up seniors who need each other are: PACA/AAR, ACAT, Animal Humane Association, Albuquerque Animal Services, CARMA, Rio Rancho Animal Control, New Mexico Animal Friends, Watermelon Mountain Ranch, and ANEW.
MARCH IS SENIOR’S MONTH
One of the most popular eServices on the City of Albuquerque website allows website visitors to search for lost and found pets online. Albuquerque Animal Services has enhanced this service to include the ability to search for animals by breed. This is just one of the many new features Albuquerque Animal Services is implementing to help improve adoption rates and decrease the number of animals euthanized each year.
ANIMAL SERVICES WEBSITE
To use this new service go to: www.cabq.gov/pets and choose “Search Adoptable Pets” or “Search Lost Pets.” Follow the instructions to receive an email when the breed you are looking for is brought to the shelter.
TOUR FOR LIFE ADOPTATHON NEWS
The North Shore Animal League’s Tour For Life will be coming to Albuquerque for one day-- Saturday, April 10th. Its Mobile Adoption Unit will be passing through as part of its annual tour to promote the National Adoptathon. The event will be held at the Albertson’s on Lomas/Juan Tabo at 11825 Lomas Blvd. NE starting at 10 a.m.
The Albuquerque Adoptathon will be held April 30th, May 1st, and May 2nd. PACA/AAR, AHANM, ASD and several breed groups will hold Adoptathon activities at the State Fair grounds. Watermelon Mountain Ranch and others will hold Adoptathon events at PETSMART on Renaissance, and CARMA is holding Adoptathon activities at PETSMART on Coors Bypass.
A press conference in Santa Fe announcing the petition with the Fish and Wildlife Service to place the Gunnison’s prairie dog on the Endangered Species List was held on February 23rd at E. J. Martinez Elementary School in Santa Fe, across the street from a former 21-acre acre colony of 150 prairie dogs relocated to an undisclosed location in September 2003.
STANDING UP FOR THE UNDERDOG
Among the speakers were Dr. Nicole Rosmarino of Forest Guardians, Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, a Gunnison’s prairie dog specialist, and biologist Paula Martin of Prairie Ecosystems Associates, a company that specializes in relocating prairie dogs. Dr. Slobodchikoff talked about their highly complex communications system, warning, “We are losing a precious natural resource that can tell us something about who we are as human beings.”
Of the five species of prairie dog, all but the Gunnison’s are already granted protection or awaiting it. Dr. Rosmarino explained that Gunnison’s prairie dog populations have declined by over 90% in four western states (with an estimated 1-2 million on 200,000-365,000 acres, down from a high of 10 million acres). Less than a tenth of 1% of New Mexico land now contains prairie dogs, with one-quarter on Native American land. Their decline has largely been due to poisoning, shooting, plague, and habitat destruction. All five are considered keystone species, which means that they create habitat, attract other species, and provide food for a number of predators. And contrary to popular belief, they are beneficial to cattle because they improve the forage quality of vegetation, and they do not pose a health risk to humans.
It takes 5-10 years to get on the Endangered Species list, which would likely protect the Gunnison’s from being shot or poisoned. More about prairie dogs, the petition, and how you can help is at www.fguardians.org. Also read our article on prairie dogs in our summer 2003 issue (covers/prairiedog.html).
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