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Dogs and cats can be wonderful companions and provide important services. They may also carry disease, pose a threat to public safety, and be general nuisance. In some instances the animals are themselves in need of protection from neglect, abuse, or mistreatment. Addressing health and safety issues while ensuring animal welfare and protecting owners' rights is complicated and challenging. The following proposal outlines an innovative approach to addressing animal issues in our area. Comprehensive and community-based, the effort will increase public health and safety, enhance animal welfare, and increase the effectiveness of public expenditures. The existing system for animal care and control in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County is working hard on several fronts including rabies control, removal of animals from bad situations, and having a place for people to take unwanted animals. Unfortunately the current system also results in the premature deaths of thousands of animals. Up to two- thirds of all the dogs and cats taken in at the shelter-more than 8,000 healthy or treatable animals-are killed there every year. Unless significant changes are made, the very system that is supposed to protect animals will put tens of thousands of them at risk over the next decade. Healthy or treatable dogs and cats are being killed at the shelter because more are being admitted than the facility can hold. This situation can be corrected if the placement of animals in good homes can be greatly increased, and if the number of animals going to the shelter can be significantly reduced. Accomplishment of these objectives requires participation by animal advocates, Animal Control Officers, and the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV). The effort will take as many as seven years to finish. It will require investment of time and fiscal resources above existing levels, and modification of policies and procedures. The initiative will work if everyone actively supports the same 12-point plan, if organizations align their programs with the campaign, and if the initiative can capitalize on the benefits of broadly based cooperation and coordinated action.
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