Editorial: Help Stray Hearts

Get pets spayed, neutered

Posted 9/13/18

Stray Hearts Animal Shelter is charging a fee to people who surrender their pets voluntarily but not to people who bring in strays.

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Editorial: Help Stray Hearts

Get pets spayed, neutered


Stray Hearts Animal Shelter is charging a fee to people who surrender their pets voluntarily but not to people who bring in strays.

This is one way the shelter is trying to cover the costs of caring for so many animals, with more brought in every day. It also is a way to encourage people to be more responsible for their animals, according to shelter director Cynthis Lucas.

Still, she said they try to work with those who can’t pay the full amount, depending on the situation: like a woman who had to move in with her daughter and had to give up her cats because a grandchild had severe allergies to the animals. 

The shelter is less flexible with people who, for example, get a new job and don’t have time for their pet, or who have a new boyfriend/girlfriend for whom pets are inconvenient. As Lucas noted, “Enabling irresponsibility is not a part of the solution.”

We agree.

Other shelters ask for money for surrenders and strays, but they do it differently. The Santa Fe Animal Shelter asks people for a $50 donation for surrenders and $25 for strays. But they are only suggested donations.

A recent Taos Bark column by Trish Hernandez noted that a Stray Hearts staff member told her there was a $75 fee for dogs brought in, regardless of whether they were rescued strays or owner surrenders. The editor of The Taos News, surprised, called Stray Hearts to confirm. Lucas was not there at the time, but the staffer who answered the phone confirmed that the fee was charged for both strays or surrenders brought to Stray Hearts.. As expected, the column raised eyebrows.

Such fees would be exorbitant in a community such as Taos.

As it turns out, the staff members were misinformed.

Stray Hearts is charging a fee to people who relinquish a pet, but no fee is charged to people who bring in a stray.

The staff member’s misunderstanding of a crucial piece of information created unnecessary problems for Stray Hearts, an organization vital to the community and struggling to overcome incredible challenges. To her credit, Lucas jumped in immediately to correct the information.

The Taos County communities that rely on Stray Hearts Animal Shelter must once again admit their shelter is utterly overwhelmed. The number of dogs in the shelter consistently is nearly double the shelter’s capacity. Their cadre of hardworking staff and volunteers do everything they can to care for the animals until they can find them a new home or take them to another shelter.

What can the community do to help? Volunteer at the shelter. Donate money.

But the single most important thing Taos County residents can do is have their dogs spayed and neutered. Inexpensive spays and neuters are available, Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 15 - 16) and again on Sept. 29-30.

The spay/neuter procedure is free with the purchase of a county animal license, which costs $10 for two years. Registration is required, so veterinarians can schedule the surgeries at the van. Call Richard or Rita at 737-6488 to register. No walk-ins.

There is no reason to allow dogs and cats to have puppies and kittens. The community doesn’t need more, and the shelter shouldn’t have to deal with the constant stream of unwanted ones.


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