I’ve been at this for a long time, since October 2013 to be exact, and you can only beat your head against the wall for so long until you realize that more damage is done to you than the wall.
Very little has changed at Roswell Animal Control in Roswell, NM, nationally notorious for animal abuse and high kill rates:
January 2014 I wrote a letter to the Roswell mayor and city councilors questioning the high kill rate and withholding of veterinarian care by Dr. Leandro Gutierrez. No response received.
June 2014 Rescued dogs suspiciously escape a foster and attack a police officer’s son. Mayor bans all rescues from Roswell Animal Control. Under intense pressure from the public (mostly non-local animal advocates) he reinstates rescues who are willing to sign a letter of agreement and list all fosters they use; agreement demands that listed fosters waive their 4th Amendment rights in order to house a rescue dog within the city limits. Many rescues pull out. Kill rate skyrockets.
July 2014 Animal Control placed under the supervision of the Roswell Police Department.
September 2014 City begins posting intake records online for public access and increases hours of operation to weekends and evenings.
October 2014 Owners, rescuers and adopters file complaints against Dr. Leandro Gutierrez with the state veterinary board. Board issues a notice of contemplative action (hearing to be held this summer)
December 2014 City councilors remove questionable language from letter of agreement. More rescue organizations begin to participate. Also, changed ordinance to allow an extra 2 days for tagged animals before euthanasia; HOWEVER, request must be directed in writing to the police chief. He denied many requests because he claimed that the circumstances were not “exigent” . . . yet refuses to give any guidelines.
March – May 2015 Due to exceptional efforts on the part of rescue organizations, approximately 95% of dogs are saved, fewer cats. Rescues are sending almost 100 dogs per week OUT of Roswell.
Given the pet-unfriendly tone of the Roswell City government, and the incompetence of personnel at Querencia (Dr. Gutierrez’s company), many of us felt that we needed to work toward a mass exodus of pets from Roswell, and indeed this is happening. Not only are they leaving in droves by road and air, rescues are refusing to adopt to Roswell residents. I wasn’t too far off when I recommended that Roswell be this nation’s first “pet-free” city.
What has NOT changed is the dark mindset of the people in charge . . . police chief, mayor, city council, animal control manager and other personnel. Even when there are empty cages, if an animal is there for 7 days, it is destroyed on the 8th. Those that are ill receive no vet care, and even when a rescue pleads with them to release the animal early so that they can provide the care at no cost to the city, they are denied. So the animal either suffers or is quickly killed.
What has also not changed, is the cavalier and heartless attitude of the average Roswell citizen toward its pets . . . pets are a commodity, a piece of property to them, and they are entitled to do what they want with them. The caring pet owners are sadly the silent majority or indeed, the actual minority.
I’ve been the “town crier” for a long time, because I believed that before change could happen, the evil needed to be exposed and the public made aware. That has been done, and now is the time for Roswell citizens to take a good look at who is running their government, and how their tax dollars are being used or abused. When only 10% of the Roswell population elects a mayor, they deserve exactly what they get, which in this case is not much.
We all know that we will probably have to ride out the terms of this incumbent administration before any significant reform in animal welfare takes hold, and we only hope that Roswell wakes up soon enough to elect officials who will be more benevolent. Strength of character and compassion for the voiceless go hand in hand.
This whole cause has inspired me to start my own nonprofit organization, Extraordinary Dogs Inc, not only to rescue the animals I could, but mostly to teach them and to demonstrate to the world that these dogs have exceptional talents and skills, that they are NOT damaged goods, and that they can truly be a partner and helpmate for their human.
Being on this soapbox has taken a lot of time and energy from this because it has been like quicksand . . . it has brought out the worst in humanity, not only in the people who are responsible for the killing, but from the irresponsible owners who live there and the pseudo-rescues/scammers who moved in to take advantage of a desperate situation.
For my own emotional health, I need to get back to my initial focus, which is helping my resident dogs to be extraordinary. There is a high rate of compassion fatigue among any kind of rescue, and it can have deadly results. So, I am removing myself from this self-imposed role of “town crier.” I have researched, written, cried, pleaded and done everything I could. I won’t be reposting any of the archived writings about Roswell Animal Control. You are welcome to use the category field on the site and quickly access those on your own.
My work is far from done . . . I believe that education is still the key to changing the world and moving people into the light, and hopefully with my dogs, I can make some kind of difference.
The ball is in your court, Roswell. You elected these officials, now hold them accountable. They are using more than a quarter million of your tax dollars to murder YOUR pets. If you don’t like it, change it.
As for me, I am going to “my dogs” . . . that’s where I am happiest. My writing will be focused on the wonders and joys of owning and working with rescued dogs.
I will never stop being the voice for animals who need me. . . I’m just not going to waste my voice in Roswell. It’s time for a new “town crier” to step up.