The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By CNJ Staff 

Unwanted pets in peril


April 24, 2005

A female Shepherd/Rottweiler puppy looks out of her cage Sunday at the Clovis animal shelter. Clovis averages more than 200 animals destroyed every month because the animals cannot find a home. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

When Darlene Ray thinks back about the time she spent volunteering at the Clovis animal shelter, she distinctly remembers dogs pinned by fear to the cement floors of their cages, shaking and terrified.

Like many of the animals that end up in the animal shelter, they were destroyed because no one came to claim or adopt them. This, she said, is the kind of stuff that sticks with you.

“I can still hear those cats crying and reaching those little paws at me,” she said.

Some of the animals she aided and comforted on a Monday were dead by Tuesday, she said. After a while, most of the volunteers just couldn’t take it anymore and quit, she said.

Ray is the president of the Clovis Animal Welfare League, a group dedicated to bettering the lives of companion animals in the greater Clovis area, according to their Web site:

“There’s just too many animals,” she said, “and really I don’t know why people don’t have their pets spayed or neutered.”

One reason, animal-rights activists theorize, is that many pet owners simply can’t afford it, or make decisions to buy more essential items for their own lives than worry about procreation among domesticated animals.

“When you’ve got somebody who’s got limited resources, the chances are they are going to have to choose the essentials of life — prescriptions, health care, gasoline — over spay or neutering (their pets),” said Jonathan La Vine, fund-raising coordinator for CAWL.

Besides that, many in the community probably just don’t see it as a problem, he said.

“Most people think that if their animals have an unwanted litter of animals, it’s not their problem,” said La Vine. “But it’s a social problem.”

He said animals living on the street will do a number of undesirable things, like dig up flower beds, keep people awake at night, and of course, get hit by cars in the street.

And that’s the hard truth of strays on the street: They either die in traffic, or they die after being picked up by animal control and are destroyed.

Clovis averages more than 200 animals destroyed every month with carbon monoxide, Ray said. In 2004, more than 2,700 cats and dogs were put to death. This tragedy could be prevented, Ray said, but the solution begins with animal owners taking responsibility and having their animals fixed.


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