City kennel offers last hope for strays

William Thompson

Mike Martinez, Tucumcari’s Animal Control Supervisor, said that as long as there is enough space in the city’s dog kennel, dogs and cats that reside there are not in danger of being euthanized.

Right now, according to Martinez, the kennel houses only one dog and one cat. “It’s a really slow period right now,” said Martinez. “Sometimes we will have as many as 12-15 dogs, sometimes more, in here at one time. Although we have 16 cages, the kennel is designed to house just nine dogs comfortably.” When the kennel does get overcrowded, Martinez said he sometimes has to put one or more dogs to sleep in a given week. “It’s a sad feeling when I have to put an animal to sleep,” said Martinez. You try not to get too attached to the animals. Fortunately, the euthanasia process puts the dog to sleep within seconds.”

Martinez said that during the euthanasia process an animal is placed in a chamber and then carbon monoxide gas is emitted into the chamber, quickly putting the animal to sleep. Tucumcari Police Chief Dennis Townsend, whose department oversees the dog kennel, said that during times of overcrowding at the shelter, the kennel will hold a dog with no tags for three days before putting it to sleep. if a dog has tags, the kennel personnel will wait five days before initiating the euthanasia process. “The animal control officers try to locate the owners of the dogs,” said Townsend, “but it is very difficult to locate the dog owners if there are no tags on the dog.” Townsend said Tucumcari suffers from an overpopulation of dogs. “We had over 900 dogs picked up last year,” said Townsend. “That number is way too high, but it is our average number per year here in Tucumcari.”

Townsend said the overpopulation problem boils down to irresponsibility on the part of pet owners. “People just don’t take care of their animals,” said Townsend. “Parents will buy a dog for their kids, but after a few weeks the family gets tired of the dog, so they just let it run wild.” Townsend, himself, adopted a blue heeler from the city’s kennel nine years ago. “That dog was the best dog I ever had,” said Townsend. “People can find really decent dogs at the kennel.” Currently a female blue heeler mix is staying at the kennel awaiting adoption. Townsend said the process of adopting a dog or cat from the kennel is easy. “All people have to do is call or come by the police department or city hall, and we will have one of the animal control officers let a person into the kennel to select a pet. We will give anyone an animal with no questions asked, but that person will have to show proof of having gotten required vaccinations for the animal within a resonable amount of time.” The kennel is located on North Rock Island Road on the premises of Tucumcari’s old wastewater treatment plant. Martinez said that he and his assistant, Scott Evans, will be glad to show prospective pet owners the animals currently residing at the kennel. The kennel can be reached at 461-0196, however, animal control officers are often busy responding to radio calls.