Task force recommends lethal injection

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The nine-member Clovis Animal Control Task Force will recommend to the city commission to switch the animal shelter’s method of euthanasia to lethal injection.

The recommendation passed 6–3 during Wednesday’s task force meeting.

Other recommendations the task force approved included spaying and neutering shelter animals before adoption as well as developing a revenue stream for the shelter through an animal licensing program.

The city commission will consider the recommendations during its first meeting in November, according to Community Relations Director Claire Burroughes.

“I think some of the recommendations are pretty progressive from what we have now,” she said.

Task force chairwoman Linda Cross, who led the euthanasia discussion, said benefits from switching to lethal injection outweighed the costs. She said the benefits included lethal injection being a more humane method of putting down animals, complying with an anticipated state mandate by the end of the year to switch to the method, and keeping animal control employees from exposure to carbon monoxide.

Commissioner and task force member Len Vohs, who voted against the recommendation, said there was no guarantee the state would make lethal injection mandatory.

“I want (recommendations) to be a change for the good,” he said. “I’m not sure (switching to lethal injection) is a change for the good.”

If the city commission approves the method, Cross said the city would receive $100,000 from Gov. Bill Richardson’s office and the Animal Protection of New Mexico would provide free training and a year’s supply of sodium pentobarbital, the medicine used in lethal injections.

Among the recommendations the task force unanimously approved is implementing a mandatory spaying and neutering program of shelter animals before they are placed for adoption. The spaying or neutering cost would be included in the adoption fee.

Burroughes said the city has a voluntary animal sterilization policy for animals adopted from the shelter.

“A lot of communities have spay and neutering as mandatory before any animal can leave the shelter and that helps reduce the number of animals,” she said.

In an effort to add a revenue stream for the shelter to offset the costs of the recommendations, the task force is recommending adopting an ordinance requiring licensing of animals in the city. The proposed ordinance sets a $10 fee to license animals that have been spayed and neutered and $50 for animals which aren’t sterilized.

Burroughes said the task force and city staff will work on the details of the recommendations, including narrowing down the costs, before the city commission considers them.