Animal control a busy business in Portales

Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

While taking a walk through the Portales Animal Control shelter, one might find it difficult to look into the faces of the animals which occupy the few cages the shelter provides, knowing those animals could possibly face the last resort option of being euthanized.

The officers at the animal control shelter work to ensure most of the animals won’t have to face that situation.

“A lot of the time we keep them longer than we allocate,” Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said. “We try to keep (the animals) at least three days but we keep them a lot longer than that on a regular basis because we try to find homes for them.”

However, not every animal picked up has a name tag which makes it difficult for the shelter to find the animal’s owner.

“If (the animal) has a tag we’ll try to contact the owners. If not we’ll hold the dog for a mandatory three-day period in which during that three days only the owner can come pick it up, it can’t be adopted out to anybody else,” Walter Chambers, animal control and code enforcement officer said.

Berry said sometimes they have kept an animal for up to two weeks because they looked like adoptable pets.

The shelter also works with specific breed rescue groups who will contact the shelter looking for a certain breed of animal.

“If the animal is here and it stays past the three days and nobody has claimed it then we can contact those rescue groups to try to get the animal placed,” said Berry.

Even so, if the animals aren’t eventually claimed or adopted there’s nothing they can do but send them to be euthanized at the Clovis Animal Shelter, with whom they are in partnership.

He added as much as they would like to see every animal they picked up find homes, it’s nearly impossible for that to happen. The stray pet population has been an ongoing problem for the shelter for some time according to Berry.

Chambers said they generally receive between five and 20 calls a day regarding stray animals.

With the grant of $190,000 given to the police department by the state legislature to extend the shelter, Chambers is optimistic it will aid in giving the shelter more room to house the animals.

“It’s very much needed they’re making a lot of progress on it and it’s going to help us out a lot it’s going to give us a lot more room and its just going to be an all-around better facility,” he said.

Right now the current facility’s holding capacity on the inside is 30 animals, with an additional six on the outside, he said.

“We stay as close to capacity as possible but we always have to bring animals in,” Berry said. “Unfortunately it’s an ongoing business.”

He said they encourage every pet owner to spay or neuter their pets so the community doesn’t become overpopulated with unwanted animals.

When adopting out an animal, the shelter charges a $20 pound fee and also a spay and neuter fee of $25 which is given back to the owner once they bring in their animal to be spayed or neutered.