The Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley receives about 5,000 cats every year…about 8,000 dogs – far too many for it to keep.
Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock is the executive director here.
“We just really need to learn that animals are not disposable…and we owe it to them to taker care of them properly.”
She has two dogs and a cat herself and fosters three dogs and a litter of cats.
The center here is a kill shelter. If an animal can’t find a home or is deemed unsuitable for one, it is euthanized.
The first half of 2013, 64 percent of the 2,242 cats received were killed.
About half that -- thirty-one percent of the 3,930 dogs received were killed.
Dr. Vesco-Mock says that’s for 2 reasons…families in Dona Ana County choose to adopt fewer cats than dogs.
And she isn’t able to transfer them to other shelters that are overrun with cats.
“We really have to have our cats spayed and neutered…”
Owners often move and don’t take their animals with them or don’t spay and neuter the ones they have.
“Once you have an animal…responsibility for life…the animal goes in the front seat with you.”
There is a place in Dona Ana County where owners of their animals cared so much they paid to bury them.
“It’s very restful and peaceful…I enjoy coming here. I do,” said Ellie Choate.
For the last five years, Ellie Choate has taken care of burials at the Alicia Melgaard Memorial Pet Cemetery north of Las Cruces, as a volunteer.
“For 16 years I was an animal control officer, so I saw the worst of the worst…it means a lot this many animals are cared for…”
It costs about 200 dollars to bury an animal here.
When you walk through the cemetery out of the corner of your eye, you might see a bit of blue or green glass. Ellie says several markers were made a few years back to beautify the cemetery.
“We have Billy here, the little angel.”
Ellie says it’s a beautiful thing.
“It tells me that people are just as loyal to their pets as their pets were to them…even after they are gone.”
Dr. Vesco-Mock says the shelter has about 30 families who foster sick animals until they’re well again…they’re always looking for more families.
“We really need that…we need more people to step up…”
The center neuters and spays dogs for $35 and cats for $25.