Winter 2011 Magazine


By Sunny Aris

Animal Village NM is a "life oriented" pet adoption and animal welfare center in Alamogordo, NM. It offers services to support humane relationships between people and the animals with whom they interact. Among these services are

  • Subsidies for low-cost spay and neuter services
  • Training support and solutions
  • Free pet food-bank service
  • "Freedom Dogs" program which allows participating animal control facilities and rescue organizations to apply for sanctuary and adoption placement for friendly dogs who have been abused, neglected, and are slated for euthanasia
  • Boarding services in "The Bunkhouse"

The facility officially opened on November 15, 2010 amid a sea of volunteers from Holloman Air Force Base and animal lovers from surrounding communities.

Animal Village NM is New Mexico's newest comprehensively planned pet adoption and animal welfare services center. It is located on almost nine acres just outside Alamogordo, NM on Highway 54-70.

"We want to offer a full range of services for animals, and teach people how to better care for their pets," Nancy Berg, co-founder of Animal Village NM, said. "If we can talk to children early in their educational process, we can help families learn about spay and neuter and why it is crucial in saving lives

Animal Village NM plans to provide services for New Mexico's animal lovers that haven't been found in one place before now. There will be day camps for children, with each day's theme geared to teaching awareness about different species.


"Over 80 percent of euthanized dogs are pit bulls," Alyssa Aldridge, an adoption manager with the Forrest City Area Humane Society in Arkansas, said. "And big black dogs are the next most euthanized." Molly is a black pit bull who was picked up by animal control after calls from concerned citizens. A happy ending seemed impossible. "You could see every bone in her body. She was scarred, and scared of people."

Molly's sad story could have ended right there, as it does for so many abused and neglected animals. But sometimes things work out and animal lovers connect with each other in different parts of the country to save an animal. It happened for Molly.

"Amanda Kostynyk arranges some of our transports to rescue," said Aldridge. Kostynyk e-mailed Animal Village NM, asking for help with some other dogs. "Sunny Aris and Nancy Berg (the founders of Animal Village NM) were willing to take two severely malnourished dogs we had, but those dogs were already rescued," said Aldridge. "I suggested Molly instead. They agreed to take her before even seeing a picture of her. They just knew she deserved a chance."

Working with Animal Village NM's "Freedom Dogs" program, Aldridge and Kostynyk struggled under tremendous time pressure to arrange vehicle and air transport for Molly from Arkansas to New Mexico. Molly was driven from Arkansas to Oklahoma. Next she flew from Oklahoma to Albuquerque and from Albuquerque to Alamogordo during a 5-day rescue marathon. Transportation for Molly was set up with Pilots and Paws, a volunteer transport group. The pilots use their own planes, gas and time. Each flew sections of the trip from Oklahoma to New Mexico.

Animal Village NM is trying to find a home for Molly, and the other canines there now, including mastiff "blend" puppies, golden retrievers, boxers, 14 Chihuahuas from a hoarding case, heelers, basset blends, 'ChiWeenies," Catahoulas, and many other types of dogs. But a no-kill shelter means just that. Molly and all other accepted dogs are safe from euthanasia at Animal Village NM.

Sean Murphy and his wife, Tracie, the volunteer coordinator for Animal Village NM, have been huge supporters of Animal Village NM.

"I suppose it boils down to a dual need for animals to have the right to live while helping control pet populations by ensuring animals are spayed/neutered to help reduce the number of unwanted pets," explained Sean Murphy, who is currently serving at Holloman Air Force Base. "There are so many people ready, willing, and able to adopt pets, but a lot of shelters aren't able to keep animals long enough to allow for the right fit with the right family. No-kill shelters give animals a chance at a happy life. It takes a lot of love, a lot of work, and a lot of donations but in the end, it is always worth the effort."

Tracie Murphy agreed. "The service we do for these animals is out of love. These animals deserve every chance to find a forever home, and feel the love that most pets have. They didn't ask to be put on this earth. It's not fair to euthanize them because we can't place them within a specific amount of time. Some need extra attention, and love to develop into an animal who can be placed into the right home. These babies can benefit the families they go to as well. There is nothing like the unconditional love an animal gives its owner. I'm not doing a service for them; they do a service for me!"

Tracie Murphy says Animal Village NM has become something of a community project. "We have a lot of volunteers from Holloman Air Force Base who come out and walk the dogs, run the dogs, help us build pens, and clean up. The dogs also receive obedience training, to make them suitable for adoption."

Future plans, depending on donations, include an eight-acre nature walk around the property, for dog-lovers, nature lovers, and community use such as "Relay for Life" and other fundraising events.

"We want this to be a real center for animal welfare. The more the public uses our facilities, the more they will see our great animals and adopt them. The more animals who are adopted, the more we can bring here away from horrible situations of cruelty and neglect," Berg said. "We are trying to create a circle of awareness, but we must create it step by step, with each step proving by donation support that it is wanted by New Mexico's animal lovers."

Berg is thrilled at the outpouring of support from Holloman Air Force Base, "When the soldiers come to run our dogs, and help around the center, moving our kennels and working hard to help us save lives, I feel so happy it makes me want to cry. When I was seven years old I told my grandmother that when I got big I was going to start an orphanage for dogs and cats. This has been on my bucket list for a long time!"

To become a member of Animal Village NM and see what's going on daily, visit the Animal Village NM Facebook page. Animal Village NM operates under the 501c3 of the Kato Foundation, which runs Kitty City (soon to be featured on Animal Planet's new series, "Must Love Cats'). All donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be mailed to Animal Village NM, at 7246 Hwy. 54-70, Alamogordo, NM, 88310. Donations can also be made online at To visit the center, telephone 575-937-2509.

Sunny Aris is the co-founder of Animal Village NM and Kitty City. She will bring PETroglyphs' readers news from southern New Mexico.

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