With a June 19 deadline looming for all animal shelters to use lethal injections to put down animals, Tucumcari is striving to find ways to meet that state requirement.
The city of Tucumcari currently uses a carbon monoxide gas chamber to put down dogs and cats in its pound.
By Friday that process has to be halted or changed, according to the new law.
Clovis, Jal, Lovington and Tucumcari were the only communities in New Mexico to still use gas chambers when Gov. Bill Richardson signed the legislation into law in April.
I n Tucumcari the police department oversees Animal Control which is in charge of disposing animals.
The city has to adapt its facility, or build or buy a new facility, to euthanize animals and have workers and a veterinarian who meet state guidelines to begin using lethal injection, Tucumcari Police Chief Roger Hatcher said Thursday.
In addition to meeting those state requirements, an animal shelter is needed in Tucumcari to help the city cope with its stray dogs and cats, Hatcher said.
A volunteer group that cares for animals, and promotes and prepares dogs and cats for adoption through a shelter would help the city deal with its animals, Hatcher said.
"Even if we have to take them to Albuquerque, Denver or a larger city for adoption," said Hatcher, who had visited a shelter in Albuquerque earlier this week, to learn about their process and costs.
The city's Animal Control service currently euthanizes about 80 dogs and cats per month from Tucumcari and from some neighboring communities that have contracted with the city for disposal, Hatcher said.
To monitor the program as required by the state, Hatcher recently told the Tucumcari City Commission that he had talked to several local vets about becoming involved in the program. However, they told him that it went against their grain to euthanize healthy animals, Hatcher said.
He is still discussing the process and costs with one local vet, but no agreement has been reached, Hatcher said.
"The state may help us with a vet," said Hatcher, referring to the state's Animal Sheltering Board, which is establishing the guidelines.
Because all the rules and regulations are not yet laid out by the board, Hatcher said it is difficult to make a plan and stick to it. Meanwhile, he is investigating the costs of drugs required, and learning how other shelters and cities carry out their programs.
To the meet the state's requirements, Hatcher said a new part-time animal control worker had been hired at a cost of about $20,000. The new worker and the city's Animal Control Officer have both completed training and testing, and were awaiting word on their licenses.
Hatcher said he planned to present his additional findings to the City Commission at their next meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.