Tails and Tales: Does the Mesilla Valley need a new Animal Services Center?

Originally published in the Las Cruces Sun-News on July 8, 2018.

In May 2018, the city of Las Cruces made the decision to approve a ballot of community improvements. These city improvements that the public will vote on is called a General Obligation Bond.

Beginning in July, this ballot will be mailed to all city residents. The ballot will have four different questions. I am honored to announce one of the ballot items is to build a new Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley adoption and stray-holding facility.

Because it is a mail-in ballot, each Las Cruces resident will need to select the community improvements they feel are best for the community and then submit that ballot by mail. This is a great opportunity for all residents of Las Cruces to easily get involved in the future of our city.

I would like to take a moment and explain why the Animal Services Center is in need of a new facility.

  • The Animal Services Center was built in 1982. The building has several issues that have been ignored through the years. Cracks in walls are showing, cement is breaking down and the facility’s plumbing system is in need of a major overhaul. More than 44,000 people visit the ASCMV each year. There needs to be a clean and welcoming environment for all individuals looking for a lost or new pet.
  • The center has outlived its life as an animal facility. In 1982 to even the early 2000’s, animal shelter construction was mostly the same: cement floor, cages and a front lobby. All drab and industrial. In the last 15 years, studies have shown how the flow of a shelter can aid in sustaining heather animals. Each kennel room should have a dedicated exhaust of the old air and fresh air brought in. Another factor is the location of the puppy area in relation to sick animals. If the animals are healthier, then more will be adopted and more sent to rescues, hence less animals euthanized.
  • 10,000 animals pass through the current Animal Services Center each year. We currently have two to three dogs per kennel. A larger facility will allow more cages for dogs and more room for cats.
  • The Animal Services Center has continual animal disease issues. Because the cement is breaking down, cracking and chipping, unseen diseases settle in these compromised areas. No matter how hard we scrub, if we can’t get to it, it won’t go away. A new facility will greatly improve sanitation and overall health.
  • While there have been some small renovations to the kennels, it has been mostly cosmetic, such as new paint and wall coverings. A major plumbing renovation needs to be done. All pipes that carry the animal waste to the sewers are cast iron. Over time these cast iron pipes can degrade to form low spots and even breaks in the line. All the pipes are under cement. All the pipes also run under the kennels. In order for any pipe replacements, the kennels (some are cinder block and some are cement) would need to be torn up. This is a significant cost and also creates a major space issue as no dogs could be in that area.
  • The current medical area is insufficient to meet the needs of the Mesilla Valley. Only one small room is available for veterinarians to perform sterilizations. It is estimated that over 10,000 animal sterilizations a year would need to be performed for five years in order to show a reduction in the pet population in Doña Ana County. A new facility would free the current ASCMV building to be used as a medical facility that would specialize in high-output animal sterilizations. The center would give us the recourse to reach the number needed to reduce the animal population.

How can you help?

Take time to understand what the GO Bond is and how it will work. Several people see it as a possible tax hike. If you understand the GO Bond, you can see that the bond is much more than a general tax increase, but a way for the voter to become involved in the city’s improvement plans. They get to choose what the city can improve at a very minimal cost. Vote by mail!

Clint Thacker is executive director of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley. For more information on the upcoming GO Bond Election please visit the city website, http://www.clcbond.org/