Fall 2003

by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D.

We have great news about the low income spay and neuter program. More than 350 animals have had their surgeries and 450 more are waiting for appointments. Since I last wrote, we have built wonderful collaborations with Animal Humane, VetCo at Menaul, VetCo Los Lunas and the Zoo Animal Hospital. We have money and we have the way to get the surgeries done. It is very exciting.

Our phone continues to ring off the hook. Almost 1,400 pets are on the waiting list. Word of mouth works. We are still working to get the backlog taken care of, but we hope to have all the prior applications squared away by the end of the month.

The system is simple, easy to use and seems to be working well. We are very excited about it. Sometimes statistics seem vague. But I can tell you that those 800 surgeries will mean 100,000 fewer animals will end up being euthanized.

Let me tell you a story to help you get a sense of what these surgeries actually mean in the city. A woman called to say she has 18 cats who need to be spayed and neutered. “Can you tell me how you ended up with 18 cats?” I ask. “Well we had two girls. The veterinarian said they weren’t old enough to be spayed so they became pregnant. I’m not quite sure how. They don’t seem very old.” ”Did you take them to the veterinarian to get spayed when you found out they were pregnant?” I asked. She said, “Oh, no. That would be abortion.”

Now she has 18 cats and can’t afford to get them spayed or neutered. If we do nothing, in another 4 months, she might have another 100 cats and in a year 500 cats. That’s how it goes. Two cats can become 500 cats in a year. It is why the shelters overflow with animals, and why we end up killing more and more. Killing still doesn’t work, but spay and neuter will. Our collective job is to get the word out. Tell folks we are at 505-410-6647. Please check out our new website at www.nomorehomelesspetsnm.org .


About three weeks ago, I got a rescue dog who we named Doc. He was about 18 months old. Doc weighed about 35-40 pounds and looked as if he’d come from a concentration camp. You could actually see his spine. How could anyone let this dog get this way, I thought. He was covered with ticks, didn’t know how to eat, could barely walk, and had all sorts of strange body jerks. He basically lurched from place to place. He was not house trained and had no social skills. He didn’t seem to know either dog language or people language.

So, I started giving him hamburger and taught him how to eat. I made him a special shake every morning - high protein, fish oil, cottage cheese, etc. After about a week, he started to walk and began gaining weight.

The day after he arrived, he lurched his way into the No More Homeless Pets office where Aly, the coordinator, was working. She fell in love with him. She lay down on the floor with him and called him a handsome boy. She decided she wanted to adopt him. Her apartment was too small so she was looking for a house to rent. Every day she held him, hugged him, kissed him, and told him what a handsome boy he was.

My own dogs went from totally ignoring him to noticing him. Three-month-old Bogie would lie on the floor and play bite his head. Doc watched the other dogs play and started to play, too. He threw the toys in the air and then grabbed them. As his legs got stronger, he could jump up on the fence to greet me the way the other dogs do. He actually leapt up to catch his toys, and ran around the yard. He learned to love dinner. He started hopping and barking the “Oh dinner, dinner” bark that my one-year-old dog Pepper taught all the other dogs.

The veterinarian loved him, as we all did, and couldn’t believe the breeder let this happen. ”He may never be the brightest guy in the world, but he sure is sweet,” he said. All of the crew here galvanized around this goofy little dog, a guy without skill or guile.

Doc had another seizure. We put him on the couch to wait for the rebound. But it never came. He wasn’t there. His heart was beating and his lungs were working, but not his brain. We called the veterinarian. The staff was waiting for us when we arrived. The veterinarian examined Doc. “His brain is gone,” she said. The veterinarian was kind and gentle as Doc died. We took him home and put him on the couch in the office. I lit a candle I had gotten from the Grotto in Oregon and put it in front of the statue of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. I told Aly we would dig a grave that she could see from her office window. Then we would plant a garden so that in the spring flowers would grow on Doc’s grave.

The ground here is packed clay. I gave Aly the pickaxe. I know that digging a hole is healing. She was digging a hole for Doc and for the dog that her parents took from her and killed without telling her. Each shovelful of dirt was a connection to every person that ever died. We wrapped Doc in a white sheet, kissed him, and put him in the ground. As the last light fell, we put his little dog toy with him and shovel by shovel covered him with dirt. We prayed and blessed him. I imagined him with a glorious tail and a full coat, running in green fields. No ticks, no blemishes.

This funny, goofy little guy, this angel dog, opened my heart. He made me know that the most wounded, most left out being can be full of light and holiness.

by Chris Dalton

We arrived at Balloon Fiesta Park at 10:30 a.m. on a balmy Saturday morning in August. We’d waited over a year but it was finally time for Dog Fest 2003. A bit overwhelmed with all that needed to be done, we set our wheels moving and got to work. Six tents and many laughs later we hung signs and got the rescue groups settled into their reserved places. At 3 p.m. people started coming and never stopped.

You can imagine that with more than 20 animal groups, carloads of spectators and lots of dogs, it got pretty hot inside those carefully placed tents. We all tried to make it as much fun as we could, but hot is hot and tensions ran a little high. The agility and flyball demonstrations helped take some of the tension off of our minds, but, like I said, it was hot. And then, off to the southeast we saw the black cloud coming our way.

The thunder rolled across the park, and we all made verbal bets on whether it would really rain. After a few more claps of thunder, the wind came. Paper work and tablecloths flew like dried leaves in autumn. Then the first drop of rain hit us. From that point on it was like a hurricane for about 45 minutes. However, the tensions were gone and everyone came together. Animal groups and dog fans were holding onto tents and fliers to keep them from blowing their way toward the Rio Grande. As we struggled to keep the canopy over the frame of the first tent, I looked around and saw smiles and laughter inside the tent village we had created. People were soaking wet and wind blown, but thankful for the much needed moisture. The worst of the storm ended. We collected ourselves and decided to go on with the rest of the day’s events.

As animal groups cleared out, the audio/video equipment was set up. Excitement filled the air. What a day it had been to that point. The movies began. We showed a few of the winning films from last year. Then it was time to show the three winning films from Dog Fest 2003. Espańola Animal Shelter took 3rd place for its documentary on animal welfare. Second place went to Junior Humane for its serious, yet funny, film about the children’s programs they provide. First place went to No More Homeless Pets for their film on spay and neuter programs, which summed up some of the great things they’ve done for Albuquerque (and let me take this opportunity to say: Spay or neuter your animals and stop the killing).

Through the downpour and small showers that followed, I’d have to say this was the finest Dog Fest to date. A lot of information sharing and laughter took place, and we were blessed by rain to top it off. Thank you to everyone who showed up to support the animals, but I’d like to give special thanks to:

« That poor kid who was working the Garduńo’s tent. He hung in there and kept us from being hungry even though he couldn’t keep the tent up.

« The guy who actually sat out in the rain to keep the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue materials from blowing away.

« All those who helped keep that front tent from ending up in the river.

Thanks again to everyone, and see you next year for Number 5.

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