Sunday, March 29, 2009

Meeting big challenges with small, targeted steps

Looking at our community's big picture concerning animal welfare, it is common for many people to think we somehow have bigger or worse problems than most places in New Mexico and in the entire U.S. We blame it on not having enough funding or on our local "culture", but when you look at the big picture nationally, it becomes clear that most who say this are living in a tiny bubble and not looking outside of that.

There are many communities facing similar challenges to our own, and there are pockets of progressiveness in animal sheltering and control throughout the nation dealing with these issues in different ways and showing success because they have changed the way they do business. What we should be doing is looking to emulate these programs and efforts to help stop the cycles of abuse and catching/killing of homeless companion animals in our community. There is no reason we cannot do this.

The truth is that it is human culture and attitudes toward animals in general -- in this entire nation and worldwide -- that lead to neglect, abuse, abandonment and some people thinking nothing of this. Many animal-welfare advocates think nothing of the suffering and throwaway attitudes toward those that are not companion animals. The good news is that although it has taken decades, companion animals have now moved away from their mostly utilitarian uses and being seen as property into our homes and families and daily lives and especially our hearts. It is because of these changes that No Kill is now possible nationwide.

It should not shock or surprise us that antiquated views still persist among some; after all, humans beings are still prejudiced and cruel toward their own kind. These views persist among people of different social and racial backgrounds and in many areas nationwide--not just here. We see these old-fashioned views in those dogs tied out all their lives or not offered the basics in care and comfort and socialization. It's what also leads to cats being abandoned, abused and trapped/killed for any small annoyance or transgression. Unfortunately, not everyone progresses away from these views.

All we can do is chip away at these prejudices and attitudes slowly but surely, but because they still exist does not mean we cannot work toward No Kill. One does not follow from the other.

Evidence now shows that the vast majority of the 165 million companion animals in the U.S. are NOT abused and neglected. For every dog you see tied up and mistreated, you probably don't notice the other side of this coin -- people going places with dogs in their cars, dogs living with their families inside the home, and people out exercising with their dogs or spending quality time with them. That's why we spend millions a year on pet supplies and care and veterinary bills. We are actually in the majority now, and we can work together toward the day those pockets of antiquated views and treatment of animals become smaller and smaller and until we can guarantee every homeless animal has a good home.

Where we are now -- looking at our statistics

Successful communities and shelters look at the big picture nationally, then at the big picture in their community, and then they break that big local picture down into parts -- into definable, manageable issues that can be tackled one-by-one. Because most wheels have been invented in progressive animal welfare, it is easy to borrow ideas and tailor them to what you need. When and if you need to invent a new way to deal with an issue, you can do so as well.

In Dona Ana County, the big picture is a bit bleak. In 2008, our shelter's intake was 15,523, and we killed/euthanized 10,387 of these animals (66.9%). There were 2321 adoptions (14.95%), 2095 animals were returned to their owners (13.50%), and 249 animals were transferred to rescues or other groups (1.60%). Without break-downs of these numbers, it is hard to see where the issues originate. In order to tackle the big picture, we need to understand what specific issues and factors help paint it.

We need to ask ourselves questions and find answers, such as ... Are there ways we can reduce the intake numbers without putting people/animals at risk? Where and how are animals coming in? How can we increase the numbers of animals transferred out to rescue and other areas? Can we do something to successfully return more animals to owners? Which animals are being put down and why -- are there trends in these numbers that show specific problem areas or demographics? Can we do a better job of competing with backyard breeders in our area and adopt out more animals?

Our shelter uses a software system called PetPoint. It is essentially a database that can be culled for specific information and reports, and if the shelter shared this detailed information with other groups, that's how we could target our efforts first to the greatest areas of need.

For instance, the SNAP program is taking the DAC spay/neuter mobile clinic to outlying areas of the county, but if we knew more about which areas of the county those 60% of animals entering the shelter come from, the SNAP program could target those areas first and more heavily and even target specific kinds of animals, too (such as pit bulls). If PetPoint can produce reports by zip code and other categories for our shelter's intake, for example, that would be great information to share. This is why information transparency and sharing is vitally important.

At the last ASCMV shelter oversight board meeting, more detailed statistics for January 2009 were shared. These tell a more detailed story, to a certain extent. The intake for that month was 1143, with 489 animals coming from the city and 641 coming from the county. Of these, 694 animals were killed/euthanized (60.71%); 244 were adopted (21.35%); 134 were returned to their owners (11.72%); and 10 were sent to rescues (0.9%). On average, we put down 22.4 animals per day.

Looking at the kill rate more closely and in some of the categories our shelter provides, 146 cats deemed feral were put down, 183 cats with URI (upper respiratory infection) were put down, and 7 cats with ringworm were put down. Twenty-one dogs with kennel cough were put down, 20 dogs with parvo were put down, 1 dog was put down for distemper, 1 heartworm-postive dog was put down, and 20 dogs were put down for being pit bull type dogs. One-hundred and sixteen animals were deemed aggressive and put down, 4 were put down for being timid, 5 were put down after being hit by a car, and 77 were put down for other medical issues. Other numbers include 47 animals being put down at the owner's request, 25 put down for space, 3 put down for being too old, 1 put down for being too young, and 17 put down for a policy reason. There were also 18 that expired in the shelter and 42 that were dead on arrival.

These break-downs show us several things. The greatest numbers that are the most alarming are the numbers of cats coming in and getting URI/being killed. If there is an oubreak at our shelter, it's URI, which is hard to combat in stressed cats being held in crowded conditions.

That's why dealing with cats in a more progressive way through community education, community cat management programs (TNR), and targeted feral fix efforts would alone cut our kill rate in half. Seeing that TNR is now supported and advocated by every national animal group, and seeing the success of more and more communities using these approaches, and acknowledging our shelter's inability and lack of space in dealing with these high cat intake numbers, there is no better time than now to openly discuss and change the way we handle feral and other cats. Trapping and killing is not working for anyone nor lowering the cat population, and it is costly in so many ways. What is holding us back is our cat leash laws and ordinances in both the city and county that do not allow people to feed or care for outdoor cats. So, we need to change the ordinances first; when that happens, there are plenty of people who are willing and able and waiting to participate in modern approaches.

Some of the other reasons listed for putting animals down seem problematic, too. For instance, No Kill experts often say that it is usually about 10% of animals coming in that truly need euthanasia in the true definition of the word (to alleviate pain and suffering or for a poor prognosis); a fewer number are truly aggressive in the sense they are a public threat. Many animals fall into the treatable category, and this includes behavior issues. It is very rare for there to be this many animals that need to be put down for true aggression/viciousness. This points to our lack of behavior assessments and equitable, fair categorizing from professionals who understand animal language and behavior.

For instance, if a dog barks at you or growls from inside their kennel, this "cage aggression" rarely translates into a dog that will bite or harm you once that dog is outside of the territory or stressful environment or once you enter that territory with the dog. If a dog shows food guarding, that is an aggressive issue, but it is one easily rehabilitated. And, many cats behave aggressively in a shelter setting but not outside of it.

Going back in time to years past, there are only very high-level statistics to share. In 2007, our shelter's intake was 15,743, and 11,000 of those animals were killed/euthanized (69.87%). In 2006, the intake was 17,112, and 12,311 of those were put down (72%). In 2005, the intake was 15,355, and 11,451 of those were put down (75%). Most of this decade looks similar -- with an intake average of 15,000 and a kill rate average of 11,000 (70%+). In the 1990s, the intake in earlier years was about 11,000 and the intake increased to about 14,000 at the end of that decade. The kill rate was in the high 70 percentile and up to 80% some years.

In other words, our big picture over the years shows a similar picture. Most of the animals taken in at our shelter are being killed/euthanized. This has been the case for some time.

For statistics to be useful, and for shelters working toward reducing kill rates, standardization is a must and sharing of detailed information with others working in animal welfare is necessary. Many shelters are now using the statistical method recommended by Maddie's Fund, which also stress the need for statistical transparency. Here's a link to some other interesting shelter statistics and recommendations:

Maddie's Fund pet evaluation matrix
Shelters reporting to the Asilomar Accords
No Kill Advocacy Center's Lifesaving Matrix

Moving Forward with Targeted/Incentivized Efforts

Targeted, incentivized efforts come from being able to identify specific problem areas and targeting those areas with highly-publicized programs that will make a difference. For example, let's say our shelter sees a certain breed and their mixes coming in more than others (for us, it's chihuahuas and pit bull mixes). Spay/neuter efforts can be targeted to this specific breed and owner, and incentives can be offered to owners of these types of dogs who agree to bring them in for the surgery -- a cash "reward" or something they get for free, such as a gas card good for one fill-up.

Naysayers will probably argue that people should be doing the right thing for the greater good or fully from their own free will; however, how can it hurt to sway a person to fix their dog? Maybe someone has never fixed their dogs before and is scared of it or has some antiquated ideas; all they might need is one good experience to be forever swayed to do the right thing from this point forward -- for them to realize their fears were unfounded and to appreciate the benefits of having an altered dog.

That's how we chip away at the antiquated attitudes -- by substituting something progressive and modern for the antiquated. Whether it is helping owners of chained dogs to realize the benefits of a happy, socialized, trained dog or providing some support during bad times with free food from a pet food bank, all of these collective efforts are what will change our community and reduce those intake/kill rates at our shelter.

First, as a community, we need to figure out where the problem areas are, what the problems are for people and animals, and then develop a plan of action from there. We cannot do this without data collection and shared information from our AC departments and the shelter with all the non-profit groups and those of us stakeholders who can help target the areas of need. It's imperative we all work together and share information if we truly want to change the outcome for too many of our homeless animals.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Next Up: Targeted/Incentivised Programs

I'm sorry it is taking a while to post my next addition to this blog. For some reason, everyone kept taking a different flu bug to work with them every day this past month, and one of those bugs follwed me home one day. However, I think I'm over it (cough, cough), and I'm hoping the next post will be worth the wait!

I'm going to talk about our shelter's 2008 statistics and our January 2009 statistics and how we can target the biggest areas of need in our community, or at least the ones we can identify from these stats. I also have some older statistics to show by way of comparison and for a bit of history.

One of the biggest issues for our area is how we deal with cats; 300+ were killed in January 2009 alone because they were deemed feral or had upper respiratory infections. We could reduce our kill rate by half of what it is NOW if many of us banned together and called for community cat and TNR programs supported by our Animal Control departments and shelter and ordinances. These programs are now endorsed by every major animal group in this nation, including the National Animal Control Association. We need to implement these programs instead of what we are doing--trapping and killing cats in a neverending, failing loop of insanity, as shown by our steady kill rate over the the years.

There was a great comment on The No Kill Nation recently describing how one community in Texas deals with this issue and has changed since 2007; for tonight, I leave you with this comment. By later this week, I'll post a more in-depth discussion and look at how our community can target our problem areas, do more to identify problem areas more accurately, and communicate more effectively with people to address the issues with incentivised, subsidized programs aimed at reducing shelter intakes and our high kill rate.

Comment By Gavin Nichols on The No Kill Nation on March 6, 2009:

"This is an answer that begs the question, but in San Antonio, the law was changed in 2007 to make it legal for free-roaming cats and cat colonies, as long as the cats are sterilized and vaccinated. Due to the new law, the City of San Antonio Animal Care Services no longer accepts cats in traps, nor do they trap cats themselves.
ACS has a pretty good relationship with the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition and has assigned two animal control officers to providing education and public information. If a citizen calls in and complains about a cat colony, the ACOs will actually go out to the citizen, provide them information about the laws and feral cats, and give them some education on how a feral cat colony that is being cared for is actually a benefit.
Private property owners, such as apartment complex owners, and neighborhood associations can disallow free-roaming cats and cat colonies, but it is not the city’s problem.
Cats that are a true nuisance or threat can be taken, but that is very rare. Most, if not all, of the cats in the ACS shelter today are "owner surrenders."
One story to give people hope is the San Antonio municipal Olmos Basin Golf Course. A feral cat colony was being taken care of there, with feeders provided by the city. The golf course had a change in management and the new management wanted the cat colony removed. The acting director of ACS and the ACOs went out there and explained the laws and the benefits to the new manager. They convinced the manager to support the cat colony. The latest report is that the manager was able to discontinue his pest control service because the cats are taking care of it for him. He's actually saving a little money!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Urge military to drop nationwide breed ban

Breed-ban history

There are 300+ million people living in the United States, and 70+ million dogs live among us. Though some dogs suffer abuse and neglect at the hands of irresponsible caretakers, the vast majority of guardians love their dogs and regard them as part of their families. This is the case for many military families as well.

Each year, there are approximately 400,000+ tobacco-related deaths in the nation, and about 38,000 people die in auto accidents. Murder takes the lives of about 16,000 people per year as well. Conversely, there are about 25 fatal dog attacks in the entire country. Death by lightning strike is six times more likely to occur.

Needless to say, dangerous/vicious dogs are not an epidemic by any measure. What is a growing epidemic is the breed-specific bans and legislation that have resulted from irrational fears and what can only be characterized as modern media's sensationalism and poor reporting of the details that surround these attacks as well as people's general ignorance of dog behavior/bite prevention.

More often than not, breed is also wrongly reported in these newspaper/magazine/TV news sound bites, or only stories involving some breeds are reported. It's almost a cliche now how quotes from the irresponsible owners in these stories make it sound like a half-starved, unsocialized dog tied up to a post on a 6-foot chain or locked in a basement was a "family dog" that inexplicably attacked.

Tragically, children and the elderly are most often the victims in these fatal dog attacks. It is an undeniable tragedy each and every time, and most of the attacks are attributable to known risk factors, such as reckless owners encouraging aggression toward humans, even among breeds with no natural disposition to this (i.e., pit bulls), and three out of four attacks are related to neglect/abuse as well as unaltered dogs.

Following one of these tragic attacks in communities, there has been a rising trend to enact breed-specific bans and legislation in an attempt to control or predict future attacks. It is usually the most popular strong dog of the decade that is either involved in the attacks or misidentified as such (i.e., a pit bull-type dog). Attacks by other breeds or mixes besides pit bulls these days are downplayed in the media as well or ignored or misreported as this type or appearance of dog.

Maybe some years ago, one could forgive or understand why this knee-jerk, discriminatory reaction occurred. We could say that very little research and data about fatal/severe dog attacks existed, so people and politicians passing laws didn't know any better. We'll give them the benefit of that doubt for breed bans passed in the early 1990s.

Now, fast forward to years later and to our present time ... after actual research and data and books and online resources have emerged that overwhelmingly show that breed/appearance alone is not an indicator of viciousness ... after all leading national animal and veterinary groups have released position statements against breed bans ... after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention stopped tracking breed in their dog bite reports after 1998 because they found the information to be a misreported, useless predictor/indicator ... after breed bans in hundreds of communities have proven to be costly and ineffective and only offer a false sense of security while the usual dog bites and attacks by dogs of various breeds continue on ... WELL, now we should know better than this.

Maybe the general public does not, but anyone responsible for passing laws or establishing policies that may hurt and affect tens of thousands of dogs and responsible owners and families should make it their responsibility to do their homework before taking any action. Already, breed bans alone have attributed to the death and misery of millions of innocent dogs. It's akin to racial profiling and ethnic cleansing among humans; for the mistakes of few of their kind that they resemble in appearance, these dogs and their owners have paid a huge price and continue to do so. The bad guys/gals who ignore laws anyway just continue on with their business as usual, either using other strong breeds for bad purposes or ignoring laws and going into hiding with their illegal activities.

Military follows breed-ban bandwagon

By now, we should know better. Yet, the U.S. Army in January 2009 passed a nationwide breed ban on their posts and housing areas while many posts had already passed the ban the year before. This ban includes many big, strong breeds. But, the ban doesn't stop there. I also includes any MIXES of these breeds.

Let's take White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) as an example. I work there as a civilian, but I don't live there. I work with some people who do live there now or used to, including my boss, who is a retired Lt. Col. She owns a malamute from our local malamute rescue, a white pit bull-type dog, and another cute, fluffy mutt. She has a husband (also retired military) and two teenage boys, and she is a loving, responsible mom and dog owner.

When she lived on the post housing last year when their breed ban was enacted, her dogs were "grandfathered" into the system and allowed to stay. If she and her family had been transferred and relocated to another post, she would have had to give up both her malamute and white pit mix though the dogs have had no history of viciousness or violence toward anyone. She would have been allowed to keep the fluffy mutt that doesn't look like any powerful breed that suffers this breed prejudice. Lucky for her and her family, they now live in a house they purchased in Las Cruces.

In the next few years, tens of thousands of soldiers are moving to our area at both Fort Bliss and WSMR. How many of those families moving here have any pits or mixes, shepherds or mixes, danes or mixes, huskies or mixes, rotties or mixes, dobies or mixes, etc.? Who is going to make the determination of which can stay on these posts or not and determine these breeds and mixes, and where will all the rejects end up? If these families go to our local rescues and shelters to adopt, how will this limit their choices in dogs to adopt? What other options do these families have?

This breed ban is going to hit us hard here at home. It's going to hit our shelters hard, too. However, it will not hit us even half as hard as it will the families forced to give up their dogs/family members during these stressful times or figure out somewhere else to live or who in their family might be able to care for the dogs until their tours of duty are completed. Maybe this will lead many to not re-enlist when that time comes, and the last thing our military needs is to lose soldiers because of this.

The last thing these families need is another sacrifice they have to make, especially for any soldiers returning from the war. Some of those young men have no other family than their dogs, or they are matched up with dogs from programs like Canines for Combat Wounded -- to help them through post-traumatic stress disorder and to help curb the highest suicide rate among veterans following any war to date.

Alternatives to breed bans

Risks of dog bites and attacks will always exist as long as the human-canine bond exists. The smart, effective approaches to prevention are as follows:

-Enforcement of generic, non-breed-specific dangerous dog laws that target chronically irresponsible owners;
-Dog care and bite prevention education programs for adults/children;
-Restrict chaining and impose strict fines/penalties for abuse/neglect, including dog fighting; and
-Spay/neuter programs and incentives

Don't take my word for it

Instead of repeat the vast amount of facts and information regarding this topic available online, here are some links to the best information about breed-specific legislation (BSL) on the Web:

Best Friends Animal Society's Stop BSL Campaign

Animal Farm Foundation's expert opinions on breed bans and legislation

Defending Dogs website

What you don't hear in the news ... pit bull heroes and lifesavers

Various organizations' BSL position statements

"Troublemakers: What pit bulls can teach us about profiling", by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker, Feb. 6, 2006

What we can do

This is not the time to enact ill-advised breed bans that protect no one and hurt so many. The federal government and military have no business going down this dead-end road. We need to lend our voices to help reverse this nationwide trend in general, especially now that it has spread to military bases and posts.

Write or call these leaders and departments to inform them why breed bans don't work, to encourage them to look at recent research/information, and to suggest alternatives that do help mitigate risks for bites and rare fatal attacks. Talk about the bad effects of these bans on the military's morale and potential loss of soldiers that might result. It is imperative to not alienate or punish our military family units, which often include dogs of various breeds and mixes. Morale is important, and taking beloved pets from soldiers who have been fighting in the war in Iraq for so many years is unconscionable. Please contact all those you can.

President and First Lady Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
(links from this site lead to contact and comment areas off each senators' website)
Room SR-228
Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6050

U.S. Army Family and MWR Command (in charge of morale and welfare)
E-mail all comments to:

State Representatives and Senators
To search for yours in New Mexico:

Last words

I read many materials in preparation for this blog. Some words and sentiments are just too good not to share. I leave you with some profound, notable words that are not my own.

"...also, the ban against certain breeds irks me. I get to keep my animals but when I move somewhere else ... my dog is banned, and why do we punish the breed and not the deed? Um, animal racism, don't ya think?"--comment posted by soldier on an online forum

"The strongest connection of all, though, is between the trait of dog viciousness and certain kinds of owners. In about a quarter of fatal dog-bite cases, the dogs owners were previously involved in illegal fighting. The dogs that bite people are, in many cases, socially isolated, and they are vicious because the have owners who want a vicious dog. The junkyard German shepherd--which looks like it would rip your throat out--and the German shepherd guide dog are the same breed. But they are not the same dog because they have owners with different intentions."-- Malcolm Gladwell

"I just heard about the new policy ... my problem with that is two-fold. First, why the hell would breeds be targeted? I have seen much more aggressiveness from chihuahuas ... every dog has a different personality and temperament directly related to the way it was raised ... Second, the ban caused many to give up their banned dogs to the animal shelter, which is filing up fast. How can one be made to give up their pet? I have three and would never do that. They are my family and to ask me to give them up is just crazy."--comment posted by soldier on an online forum

"Singling out and publicly demonizing certain breeds as dangerous is unfair, discriminatory, and does an immense disservice to those breeds and the people who care about them. Even more chilling, breed-specific legislation encourages the faulty public perception of other breeds being inherently safe. This can lead misguided individuals to engage in unsafe conduct with other breeds that can result in injury or death by individual representatives of those breeds mistakenly perceived as safe."--Association of Pet Dog Trainers

"A fatal dog attack is not just a dog bite by a big or aggressive dog. It is usually a perfect storm of bad human-canine interactions--the wrong dog, the wrong background, the wrong history in the hands of the wrong person in the wrong environmental situation. I've been involved in many legal cases involving fatal dog attacks, and, certainly, it's my impression that these are generally cases where everyone is to blame. You've got the unsupervised three-year-old child wandering in the neighborhood killed by a starved, abused dog owned by the dogfighting boyfriend of some woman who doesn't know where her child is. It's not old Shep by the fire who suddenly goes bonkers. Usually there are all kinds of other warning signs."--Randall Lockwood, a senior vice-president of the ASPCA

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Coming up ... fighting military breed ban

My next blog posting will be filled with facts and stories about how breed bans and legislation hurt and punish vastly more good, responsible owners/families and dogs than those that don't have respect for the law as it is. For the mistakes of few, thousands have suffered and will continue to do so. These bans are political moves that give a false sense of security to an ill-informed public and do little to protect us from dog bites or fatal attacks. There are better and more effective alternatives to individually and equitably categorize and identify potentially dangerous dogs of any breed and irresponsible owners who create the monsters in the first place.

Sadly, the U.S. Army instituted a post- and base-wide breed ban in military housing on Jan. 2009 throughout the country that targets all large, powerful breeds AND mixes. Imagine trying to determine who is allowed or not allowed when mixes are included? And, who is making these breed and mix determinations? At the WSMR post, this includes pit mixes, shepherd mixes, rottie mixes, dobie mixes, dane mixes, akita mixes, malamute mixes, etc. The WSMR housing's list of breeds it has banned was released before Jan. 2009 of this year and names alot of breeds and their mixes. The U.S. Army memo that was released in January names fewer breeds.

This ban is already having devastating affects on the men and women and families that already sacrifice so much for our welfare, and it is also putting a burden on already overburdened animal shelters (which will also increase kill rates, especially here where our kill rate for 2008 was 66%). With the growth of soldiers moving to the El Paso Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range posts in the next few years to number in the tens of thousands, it is imperative we all pitch in to lend our voices to help change these bans.

When the breed bans went into affect on the WSMR post, anyone already living on post with any of these breeds was allowed to keep their dogs ... they were "grandfathered" into the system. The problem is that if this same person gets transferred to another location/post, and they want to take their beloved family dog with them, they'll be forced to give them up when they relocate to another post. This is what is happening nationwide, which is forcing families to relinquish the dogs at shelters, try to find relatives or friends to foster or care for the animals until the family can move out of military housing, or in some remote places where shelters are not nearby, dogs are being ripped away from families and killed. That seems like a strange way to maintain or lift morale for soldiers and their families, especially at a time when the suicide rate for those returning from the current war is higher than that of the Vietnam era.

This was the topic of this week's Criter Connection radio show out of Ruidoso (listen to this wonderful show online at 10 a.m. each Sat. morning off, station 105), where host Sunny Aris had many guests talking about these issues, including Sgt Ron Portillo, a wounded combat veteran who runs the non-profit Canines for Combat Wounded , a legal expert from Best Friends's campaign to stop BSL and the founder of Pit Bull Rescue Central, whose husband is in the military now.

I will go into greater detail in my next blog post coming in a couple of days. I will also let you know what we can all do to help change this ban.

Get your letter-writing skills sharpened up! We need to inundate President and First Lady Obama and key Army officials with the message, as well as our state's representatives and senators.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meetings this week

There are a couple of important meetings this week for animal advocates.

APA, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

The ACTion Programs for Animals coalition meeting is this Wendesday, March 4th, at 6:30 p.m. at the Branigan Library's Dresp Room. We will be deciding which few programs and services to concentrate on first, such as launching a pet help line, getting a pet food bank going, and an update about a group of court monitors who are going to attend animal cruelty cases.

Please come join us with your own program ideas or to join an existing working group.

ASCMV Governing Board, Thursday at 9 a.m.

This is the second meeting of the animal shelter's new oversight board. They meet in the Doña Ana Commission Chambers, 1st Floor, Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd., each first Thursday of the month at 9 a.m.

The agenda for the March 5th meeting is as follows:

I. Call to Order

II. Pledge of Allegiance

III. Minutes - approval of the Minutes from the special ASCMV Board Meeting held February 5, 2009

IV. Chair Comments

V. Public Input

VI. Presentation – Wilma Burch – Mutt Show

VII. Reports
1. Financial Report – Dr. Mark Sutter, CLC Fiscal Manager will discuss:
a. January 2009 Financial Report (report will be distributed to JPA Board members at meeting)

2. ASCMV Director – Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock will discuss:
a. Animal statistics report – 2008 (report will be distributed to JPA Board members at meeting)
b. Animal statistics report – January 2009 (report will be distributed to JPA Board members at meeting)
c. Activities at Shelter