Sunday, January 11, 2009

Annoucements and "the No Kill way"

DAC/SNAP van run this weekend

This weekend's run of the Dona Ana County Sheriff Department's mobile spay/neuter clinic--thanks to the support from the Las Cruces Spay and Neuter Action Program (SNAP)--was very successful this past weekend. On Friday, Jan. 9th, the van was at the Community of Hope in Las Cruces, and 36 animals were altered that day. On Saturday and Sunday, the van was in Radium Springs, where there were many volunteers from that community on-hand to help. On Saturday, the 10th, 33 animals were altered. Today, another 27 animals were altered -- that's 96 animals in our community that will no longer be adding to our issues of unwanted litters of kittens and puppies in coming years.

Congratulations to all involved, and keep up the good work! However, our work in high-volume spay/neuter is just beginning. The difference between providing spay/neuter services when you do so "the No Kill way" vs. what we have been doing in the past is that in order to make a real dent in the number of homeless animals coming into our shelter/rescues/sanctuary, we need to alter about 400-500 animals per month for quite some time.

In the past few years, SNAP has done a good job with their voucher program in increasing numbers each year since they began. In 2008, they helped with about 1800 surgeries via vouchers used at local vet offices, which is about 150 surgeries per month. As we can see, though, a voucher program alone is not enough. The No Kill way requires many options and services for spay/neuter and targeted efforts as well in order to get the volume up.

If you add a couple of weekends of running a mobile spay/neuter van in outlying areas at about 30 animals done per day, you begin to see how the numbers increase. That adds another 150-180 surgeries per month, with a total of approximately 300+ each month. The one other area in which we are lacking is having at least one stand-alone, low-income clinic somewhere in our community as well and/or for the shelter to step up to provide this service to the public as they used to in the past. That's the only way we can reach the kind of volume that has been successful in other communities, and many of these low-income clinics can also offer other vet services that some people cannot usually afford.

From the limited knowledge I have, SNAP seems to operate on roughly $26k a year in City/County funding, some small national grants, and local contributions. The cost of running the van alone is about $1500 per day. At those numbers, even with collecting co-pays, SNAP is going to run out of money to fund the spay/neuter van pretty soon. We need everyone in our community who supports these efforts to donate when they can.

SNAP is still needing volunteer support as well. If the same group of a few volunteers tries to keep up this kind of a schedule each month for the long-term, they will burn out. More volunteers are needed to share the load, and more outreach in each community is needed to recruit local volunteers from each area.

Please help however you can. You can reach SNAP at 524-9265, and visit their website at

Once we get up to the volumes we need in spay/neuter surgeries, then we also need our two Animal Control (AC) departments to revisit and take a constructively critical look at their policies as well. We will still be killing too many cats in our current system, for example. And, if and when our community ever does adopt a spay/neuter ordinance, it has to do so from a No Kill perspective, too. That means that our AC departments should not simply use the law in order to impound and kill more animals; instead, they should serve notices and warnings and give people the time and opportunity to comply with the laws. Having multiple low-income options and services in place, this will make things easier for everyone.

NACA supports TNVR

The National Animal Control Association's November/December 2008 issue of their bi-monthly news magazine was entirely dedicated to the subject of community cat programs, and for the first time, the NACA came out in support of TNVR (trap-neuter-vaccinate-return) for feral cats. They openly admit that what AC departments have been doing for decades is not working and will never work (trying to catch and kill all loose cats), nor does it protect the public or wildlife from any real or perceived threats. This is wonderful news, and I hope both of our AC departments have read through their copies of the magazine.

Whether some like the idea or not, it is one whose time has not only come but an idea that is passing our community by each and every day that we don't seize the opportunity to change the way we deal with this issue. With more and more communities showing success with this model (including the NMSU fCamp program), it is only a matter of time until these programs are the norm, much like many shelter programs we have today are the norm when they were not so in the recent past--such as off-site adoptions, Home for the Holidays campaigns, foster programs, rescue efforts, etc.

If you are in support of our community getting with the TNR program, the biggest step you can take at this moment is to contact your state representatives and push for our state laws to change. Also contact your local city/county representatives and urge them to pass cat-friendly local ordinances that allow non-profits and volunteers to organize efforts for feral cat management and care. Lastly, urge our two AC departments to also support these efforts and show the flexibility in the way they do business that it will take for us to be successful as well.

Coming Soon: Action Programs for Animals

Myself and a few others are starting an action-oriented group called Action Programs for Animals (APA) in February. If you are interested in not only exploring ideas that can help companion animals and their caretakers but also putting them into action, please join us for our first meeting on Feb. 5th, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Branigan Library on the corner of Main/Spruce-Picacho. We'll be in the Dresp Room.

More about the APA will follow!


VR said...

Nice change to website looks.

Concerning SNAP's van. There is nothing on their website indicating where the van will be and when. Might I suggest that you have their schedule here. Cause if no one knows where it's going to be at, how can anyone get their animals fixed.

Can you also elaborate on what the criteria is to use the van's services. Also the procedures, costs, etc.
Can one volunteer for the day and get a free neutering? If not, that is a good idea to gain help and further help those who cannot afford what ever the fee maybe.

jacksonthornton said...

When is the shelter going to follow up their no kill goal with planning. You don't set a goal without a plan. There are countless websites that tell you how to do this. Is the governing board going to help do this?

jacksonthornton said...

Why aren't the animal groups all coming together as one united front? Is there leadership in the city or county or on the new govering board that can even begin this process?

jacksonthornton said...

Why does Dr. Vesco-Mock believe (LCSN Dec 22) that she can accomplish what SNAP has been doing with the mobile here lately? Why did SNAP's money go to the shelter? Why does the good Dr. say SNAP is terrific and then says that she(the shelter) will take the money and provide s/n at the shelter. This does not reach who SNAP is reaching on the van. Thank goodness-the van parked at the shelter last year was not getting at the problem and the problem is in the county.