Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie

Piggies & Puppies & Kitties


February 23, 2018

J. McKinnon

L-R-Lisa Blackwell. Tina Roper. Crystal Veach.

Aztec Animal Shelter billed SJC $257,450.76 for the care and feeding of 1,836 animals in 2017. Farmington charged SJC over, $412,000 last year for sheltering 2,933 displaced pets. Together both shelters cost SJC a whopping $670,278.76 in 2017. According to statistics provided by SJ County Executive Office, the number of animals served have steadily decreased from a FY11 spike of 4,296 for Aztec and 4,445 for Farmington at a cost of $471,561.95. The cost of sheltering animals continues to rise in the county. In 2018 SJC will shell-out an estimated $720,439 in shelter cost. Despite the overall increase on Tuesday, January 23, Aztec was approved for $214,917.30 for shelter costs in 2018 a 16.5% decrease from FY17 numbers.

"Spay and neutering" is the reason in a nutshell for the decrease of animals in need of shelter services according to Aztec Animal Shelter Director Tina Roper. Roper says that existing spay and neuter ordinances enacted within the city have made a big difference in shelter numbers. According to the ordinance all animals must be spayed and neutered within the city limits except in the case of the animals health or if the owner of an AKC registered animal applies for a breeders permit. Currently, the Aztec shelter is housing 119 dogs and cats, 3 pot-belly pigs and a guinea pig. Evidently one can own a pot-belly pig in town (who knew?) "They can be a challenge...they are very smart and cute when they are small but that changes for some people, that's why we have them."

Roper said that increase in shelter spending while animal counts steadily decrease is due to cost increases across the board from food to medical costs. Roper pointed out that all shelter animals are now spayed or neutered. "We now have a vet under contract." Dr. Christopher Bauer DVM, of Durango does the spay and neutering and any other necessary medical procedures.

Aztec charges SJC $124 per 15 day 'stay' period. Contrary to public perception, Roper says that the end of a stay does not mean euthanasia.

According to Roper, the rate of adoption and 'live release' is very high, due in part to an effective network of shelters and rescue groups working together. Roper says that, being impounded is not a death sentence by-any-means in fact, in Aztec, euthanasia is a relatively rare occurrence. "If an animal is critically injured or has chronic health issues that can't be remedied or if an animal displays serious aggression or behaviors that make adoption not a viable option well, then we sometimes have to (euthanise)." Roper reports gravely, "When it does happen, it's the hardest decision we have to make here, it's never easy."

Roper oversees a "five-and-a-half" member staff including two animal control officers in trucks on patrol. Roper has high praise for her staff, "They are the most caring, compassionate group of folks you'd ever want to meet. They get real attached to the animals and truly care about what happens to them." As Roper continued emotion crept into her voice, "It's not (the animals) fault they are here...maybe they are not the prettiest, or for whatever reason they have developed behavior issues, but if someone would just take the time to get to know them, they are really great animals, that just want a second chance, that's all."

Volunteers are welcome to come lend a hand, "We can always use the extra help," Roper said. Anyone interested in volunteering contact Shelter Volunteer Coordinator Marie Schumaker at (505) 334-6819.


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