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Advocatiing For Animals

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Gallup-MCKINLEY County Humade

Society Names New Executive Director

Ortega has a background in business management, and she says she’s ready to take on all the challenges of running an animal shelter in a rural community.

“It’s a huge learning curve; it’s definitely an experience to say the least,” she said. “But being in this role, it’s been nothing but challenges that I’m willing to overcome and face. I love working here, I love our employees that we have here, and what we do here really makes a difference. For me, that’s something that is really fulfilling.”

 

THE HUMANE SOCIETY’S CHALLENGES

One of the humane society’s board directors, Cosy Balok, who started the organization in 1988 with her husband Clint, handpicked Ortega for the executive director position. Ortega started in the new role on April 4, and she’s already made some improvements.

Overcrowding remains a top concern at the humane society. They have less than 40 kennels open for any animal brought in, and Ortega said they typically see about 400-500 animals enter their doors each month.

Transports, fosters, and adoptions are ways in which the shelter can successfully bring those numbers down.

Ortega said she’s been working on increasing the shelter’s transportation efforts: four transportations have gone out since she started, with 25 dogs in heading to other humane societies and shelters. Ortega is trying to expand the shelter’s reach; she’s now working with some Midwestern humane societies and animal rescues.

A volunteer for the shelter transported two dogs to a humane society in Tennessee the week of May 6, and Ortega reported that they were adopted the same day they arrived.

“It’s not high numbers, but it prevents the dogs who have been here a long time from being euthanized,” Ortega said. “Those are the ones we try to get out first.”

Unfortunately, when fostering and transporting don’t work out, and the humane society isn’t seeing enough adoptions, euthanasia is the only option.

According to documents the Sun obtained from the City of Gallup’s City Clerk, 24 animals were adopted from the Gallup-McKinley County Humane Society in March. One hundred and three animals were transferred out of the shelter; six animals were reclaimed by their owners; five were trapped, neutered, and then released; one died in the shelter; 34 were euthanized because they were deemed unadoptable; one was euthanized because it had rabies; and six were euthanized at the owners’ request.

The shelter had 250 animals under their care at the end of the month.

Then in February, 20 animals were adopted from the shelter. One hundred and eleven animals were transferred out of the shelter; six animals were reclaimed by their owners; five were trapped, neutered, and then released; 49 were euthanized because they were deemed unadoptable; and 10 were euthanized at the owners’ request.

 

CAPACITY ISSUES

The animal shelter isn’t alone in trying to control the city’s animal population problem. Animal Control picks up strays, but if the humane society doesn’t have room, Animal Control can’t pick up as many animals. For Tiffany Hubbard, the Animal Control’s Animal Protection Manager, it’s all about controlling what she calls “the revolving door.”

“It’s hard for us to not pick up, so we kind of depend on them to make these transports and adoptions happen in order for us to still be able to go out and pick up [animals],” she said in an interview with the Sun.  “They’ve got to make room one way or another, unfortunately.”

Hubbard also explained how Animal Control’s job can become increasingly difficult during the summer months.

“Dog bites have gone up because it’s getting warmer, school’s going be getting out,” she said. “The amount of aggressive dogs have gone up because we’ve got people dumping animals and animals are packing up.”

Feral cats can also be a problem. Animal Control handles them by trapping them, then neutering or spaying them before releasing them. Hubbard said she had to buy 25 more traps the other week to keep up with the demand.

While they do work together, the humane society and Animal Control are separate entities. Animal Control has 24 large indoor/outdoor kennels compared to the humane society’s almost 40. These kennels are often filled with dogs who may be involved in animal abuse cases or strays.

Hubbard said Animal Control is currently in a sort of pick-and-choose situation because of their limited space.

“Right now we just go on the calls that we’re called for, and a lot of those are strays, and like I said if we don’t have the room for them or if they’re not in a dangerous situation or causing harm to people then we have to wait until we have the room to grab those guys,” she explained.

After a two-three day holding period, all the Animal Control’s stray dogs are sent to the humane society.

 

REACHING OUT TO THE COMMUNITY

Ortega said she is working with local businesses and spreading the word about how dire the Gallup-McKinley County Humane Society’s situation is. She wants people to be aware of the situation, and encourages people to adopt, not shop for an animal companion.

The Gallup-McKinley County Humane Society is located at at 1273 Balok St. They are open Tuesday-Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, and on Saturdays from 8 am to 5 pm.

March numbers

In March there were:

• 24 animals adopted

• 103 animals were transferred out of the humane society

• 34 animals were euthanized

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