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Committee mulls shelter’s future

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Funding runs short > Choices include switching facility to transfer-only shelter

By Tris DeRoma

Residents concerned that Los Alamos County might make its animal shelter into a transfer-only shelter expressed anger and disappointment Wednesday at a committee meeting.  

Many residents attended after reading a Facebook post written by one of the committee’s members Tuesday.

“It is quite possible that the Shelter will turn into a transfer only shelter, due to lack of funding. There would no longer be a place to adopt animals in Los Alamos County. Public outreach programs would stop and volunteer opportunities would end. All due to the lack of $150,000.00/year,” said Los Alamos Animal Shelter Advisory Committee member Wendy Marcus in the Facebook post.

The advisory council was created by the Los Alamos County Council last summer to come up with solutions to the shelter’s ongoing staffing and support issues.

Marcus’ post also highlighted future options for the shelter, which included turning the shelter into a transfer-only shelter, where any animals the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter received would be transferred to the Santa Fe County Animal Shelter.

At Wednesday’s meeting, a standing-room only crowd showed up, wanting to know if the council had indeed enacted the suggested changes. 

Committee members said no decisions about the shelter had been made yet, and that the committee is still coming up with options to present in a proposal to the Los Alamos County Council.

Advisory Committee Chair Wendee Brunish said the committee was not ready to present a proposal to county council. 

Brunish also mentioned that a potential option of turning the shelter into a transfer-only shelter has been talked about in preliminary discussions. 

She said she was in favor of the option, as that would mean the animals, in her opinion, would be better cared for. Making the shelter a transfer-only shelter would also make more economical sense. But, she said, the board, as a whole, has not made any decisions.

“My one and only concern is that the animals are treated humanely. So we need to do whatever we need to do to make sure that happens. If we can’t treat them humanely here, we need to send them some place where they can get that humane treatment. I don’t care what happens, but they have to be treated humanely,” Brunish said.  She also said the transfer-only option was only one option of many the committee was still exploring.

Los Alamos County Shelter volunteer Lauren Marcus, Wendy Marcus’ daughter, asked the committee to do what can they have to keep the shelter from becoming a transfer-only shelter. As someone who won a community award for her volunteer efforts at the shelter, she said she didn’t think the Santa Fe Animal Shelter would be a good place to send Los Alamos County’s animals.

“I have not been there recently, so there may have been some improvement, but it’s very loud, very crowded, not what I would call humane. The veterinary care the animals receive here in Los Alamos is much better than any I’ve seen at any other shelter,” Marcus said.

Resident Bill Snowden called the transfer shelter option “abhorrent.”

“It seems to me that in a town like Los Alamos, where we have some of the brightest people ever, we’re going to take these animals and move them down to a transfer shelter because we can’t even take care of who’s here. It just seems abhorrent to me,” Snowden said. “For a town where we pay millions for a golf course, millions for a course that 75 people use and they just want $150,000?”

The  public can provide further input by emailing the committee at sophiesamfoote@gmail.com.