Animal adovcate makes pitch for new city shelter

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

An animal rights advocate, Robert Ciolli, hopes that a capital outlay request of $325,000 will be approved and lead to a new animal shelter in Tucumcari.

“About 1,500 animals are being euthanized a year,” Ciolli said.

A new shelter would provide an opportunity to have about 20 cages for dogs and another 30 to 40 for cats, and to have a community adoption program, Ciolli said.

The city’s animal shelter is in a small building by the wastewater treatment plant on Rock Island Street that barely accommodates five animals, Ciolli said.

“It’s about the size of a two-car garage,” Ciolli said.

The $325,000 capital outlay request, which is described “to plan, design and construct an animal shelter,” is sponsored by Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton.

It’s among 31 capital outlay requests from Quay County before the state Legislature this session.

Ciolli said new and proposed statewide laws on the treatment and euthanization of animals in shelters would in the future probably make the city’s operations obsolete.

For example, the preferred method of euthanasia is lethal injection instead of gas, which is currently being used by the city’s animal control, Ciolli said.

In March 2007, Gov. Bill Richardson signed into law the Animal Sheltering Services Act. The act authorizes the creation of the Animal Sheltering Services Board. It is to consist of nine members, with animal and shelter-related backgrounds. They are to be appointed by the governor’s office. The board will promulgate recommended standards for New Mexico’s shelters, and mandatory standards for the practice of euthanasia.

In addition, the act also created the Animal Care and Facilities Fund, which is able to accept donations and legislative appropriations to assist communities with carrying out the provisions of the act. The law went into effect on June 15, 2007.

Ciolli said if the city got the funds or even a portion of the request, it would be ahead of any forthcoming legislation.

It also would not be necessary to build a new facility, an existing building could be adapted, Ciolli said.

Ciolli said he envisioned a shelter that was semi-supported by volunteers. “I’ve talked to a lot of retirees, who said they’d like to help out.”
The city’s animal control officer, Mike Martinez, could not be reached on Tuesday for comment.

Tucumcari Police Chief, Daniel Lopez, who supervises the city’s animal control operation, said he had not seen the proposal and could not comment on the shelter plan.

Lopez said the plan had not come through city administration and had not come before the City Commission.