Pet owners can expect a stricter enforcement of policies for having animals on post as the Directorate of Public Works Environmental implements a plan to help manage the number of stray and feral dogs and cats.
“We want people to know that there is a stray and feral animal control program on the installation. We want to ensure pet owners are taking full responsibility of their animals by providing them the best care that they deserve,” said Cristina Rodden, Wildlife Biologist and Pest Management Coordinator for WSMR.
As the 2nd Engineer Battalion prepares to relocate next summer, Rodden said there is concern that the number of abandoned animals may increase. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen this occur in the past where we have had problems with people abandoning their pets in garages when they have been transferred or deployed,” Rodden said.
Not all stray animals belong to residents on post; some are abandoned on Highway 70 and make their way onto post in search of food and water. Rodden said the new stray animal control program will help keep residents accountable for their pets.
Come Oct. 1, a contractor will be hired under the supervision of the Pest Management Coordinator to run the stray animal control program for WSMR. The contractor, A.K.A., Animal Caretaker/ Veterinarian Technician, will be specifically hired based on their skills and ability to care for dogs and cats.
The animal caretaker’s duties will include providing 24 hour care to stray animals, return-to- owner services, and provide post residents with responsible pet ownership education. They will be detecting and reporting abused, neglected and abandonment cases to the Doña Ana County Sheriff Animal Control Division. They will also be ensuring all pets are registered with DPW Environmental and be patrolling for stray and feral animals on a weekly basis. It should be known that feral dogs and cats can be a source of diseases and parasites, e.g., Rabies, Toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease, ticks, fleas, and roundworms, which can be transmitted to humans.
The protocol for all stray and feral animals will follow: All stray or feral animals seen on Post should be immediately reported to Directorate of Emergency Services, DES, at 678-1234. A DES Officer will be dispatched to capture the animal and then the animal will be placed in the Military Animal Impound Facility located at Building 1834, East Navajo Street on Post. At that point, the animal caretaker will do their best to contact the owners of pets that can be identified by the tags on their collar and/or microchip. The owner will be notified and will have 24 hours to pick up their pets. If the animal is not claimed, it will be transported to the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley located on 3551 Bataan Memorial West in Las Cruces. Pet owners will be informed of the transfer and that they can pick up their animals at the shelter at their own expense. Animals that have no identification will be transported to the shelter immediately, for surrender at the expense to WSMR.
Rodden is currently developing a Stray Animal Policy, which will require resident pet owners to have all pets spayed or neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated. Owners will also be required to collar all animals with identification tags. According to Rodden, there will be opportunities on Post, when the Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley will provide responsible pet ownership educational opportunities, such as microchipping clinics via their mobile van, for a fraction of the cost in the future.
“Beginning Oct. 1, we will no longer accept surrendered, injured or deceased pets from residents and will be holding pet owners fully responsible for the care of their own pets,” Rodden said. In the case there is a pet owner in need of assistance, the animal caretaker will provide pet owners with a list of local Veterinarians, Emergency Animal Care Facilities and Animal Shelters that they can take their animals to for immediate assistance.
WSMR also plans to implement an Indoor Only Cat Policy. Domestic cats can provide excellent companionship and make wonderful pets. But when allowed to roam outdoors, this non-native, invasive species threatens the welfare of birds and other wildlife. In the U.S., free-roaming domestic cats kill an estimated 1.4-3.7 billion birds, and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals. In addition, outdoor cats are exposed to many diseases and parasites, some of which can be transmitted to people. More information can be found at: http://www.denix.osd.mil/nr/upload/DoD-Cats-brochure-_final_Denix.pdf.
“We request residents, if they can no longer take care of their pets, to please not abandon them. There are many animal shelters in Las Cruces which will accept them for a small fee, such as the Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley,” Rodden said. “This eliminates senseless suffering and gives unwanted animals a chance to be adopted by a caring family,” she emphasized. Rodden is hoping that by implementing a stray animal control program on WSMR we can better ensure for the health, safety and security of our Soldiers, Civilians, Contractors and their Families.
If you have any questions or concerns with stray or feral animals on Post, please contact the Environmental Office at 678-2225.
List of Resources for Pet Care
Veterinarians and 24 hour Emergency Care
1. Jornada Veterinary Clinic
2399 Saturn Circle
Las Cruces, NM
2. Calista Animal Hospital
1889 Calle De Ninos
Las Cruces, NM
3. Veterinary Emergency Services
162 Wyatt Dr
Las Cruces, NM 88005
4. Animal Hospital of Las Cruces
3171 N. Main Street
Las Cruces, NM
Animal Shelters and Law Enforcement Control Services
1. Animal Service Center of Mesilla Valley
http://www.las-cruces.org/en/Animal%20Shelter/Contact%20Us.aspx 3551 Bataan Memorial West
Las Cruces, NM 88012
2. Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary
6890 Eagle Road
Las Cruces, NM (575) 805-5338
3. Doña Ana County Sheriff Animal Control Division
Animal Control / Codes Enforcement