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Sharp decline seen in numbers of cats and dogs coming to shelter


It seems that more cats and dogs are staying home during COVID-19 too.
Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV) Executive Director Clint Thacker said the usual monthly average of about 550 animals coming into the center this time of year has dropped to 180-200 since the onset of the public health emergency.
“This is due to the city and the county animal control bringing in sick, injured and aggressive animals only,” Thacker said. “Another big help has been our foster program. During quarantine, people have come willing to foster animals that would otherwise be here at the center. Many of these fostering families have already adopted the animal they’ve been fostering.”
Thacker said he is hopeful these trends will continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic is passed.
“We would like to see [animal control officers] continue to use similar efforts of only bringing animals in that really need the sheltering, the medical care and the safe housing. I feel a shelter is not a place for a healthy animal to be,” he said. “It’s a place an animal needs to be cared for, including euthanasia.”
Part of that effort, Thacker said, requires animal control officers “to be very proactive and educate the animal owners when a dog is loose. Officers will also have to loosen their enforcement reasoning.”
“Apparently, what we have seen happening here, during the COVID-19 pandemic, has also been happening across our country,” said Greg Smith, who served on the ASCMV board for almost the entire eight years he was on the Las Cruces City Council. “People discouraged from being in close contact with other people are turning to pets. So, animal surrenders seem to be down, animal abuse seems to be down and animal adoptions seem to be up. Whatever the reason, this is a serious net gain for our community. We know that people with pets tend to live longer, have fewer health issues and be happier. Given the special places our dogs and cats have had in our lives in our household, I can certainly attest to the warm spot our pets can hold in our hearts.”
The public health emergency also presents a good opportunity to remind people of to be responsible pet owners.
“Provide them with food and water,” Thacker said. “Love them and treat them as such.”
He said ASCMV would also “love more foster families. The program is simple. Just come in and select a pet, fill out paperwork and you’re done,” Thacker said.
The center also welcomes donations. “The best way to know your donations are doing good is to go to our Amazon wish list (see below) and watch our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ASCMV). We are always asking for immediate donations. Our animals are fed a strict diet. If we get a food donation, we usually give it to someone to help keep their pet in their home.”
Thacker said ASCMV’s volunteer program is temporarily on hold for in-center duties like dog walking and pictures. “But there are always means of volunteering while not in the center,” he said. Working at home, people could “make goodies for the dogs, disposable toys for the cats, enrichment toys, etc.”
“We were trying to achieve “no kill” status, and Clint Thacker has been a huge part of increasing our successes toward that goal,” Smith said. “We were very fortunate to be able to hire him as the executive director of the ASCMV, and his leadership has brought truly gratifying results.”
"As we all struggle with the challenges the COVID-19 closures have caused us, our primary goal is still to save lives,” said Michel Meunier, executive director of ACTion Programs for Animals, whose primary goal is to pull at-risk dogs and cats from the ASCMV. “We continue to pull animals from the shelter and find homes for our rescues as we fight for our own survival. Thanks to the shelter, animal control, and all the other local rescues working toward the same goals.”
Visit www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/4JYTOYYZWBD9?&sort=default to make donations to ASCMV from its Amazon Wish List. Enter Animal Service of the Mesilla Valley for the name. The address is 5331 Bataan Memorial West, Las Cruces, N.M. 88012.
Contact ASCMV at 575-382-0018. Visit https://ascmv.org/.