Commission tables lethal injection

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

The issue of whether to implement lethal injection at the Clovis animal shelter came before the city commission on Thursday, but without resolution.

After much debate, commissioners decided to table the issue of replacing the current mode of euthanizing animals — carbon monoxide gas.

The nearly four-hour-long regular meeting of the commission did include approvals for a spay and neuter program for adopted animals and the creation of a licensing program for cats and dogs in the city of Clovis.

But the most contentious item on the agenda never made it to a vote.

Commissioner Robert Sandoval introduced a motion to approve lethal injection for animals at the shelter, but concerns over a timetable to implement the program, as well as how it would be funded, eventually led him to change his mind to tabling the motion.

That idea received an 8-0 vote from commissioners.

Although Clovis Mayor Gayla Bumfield gave an impassioned speech urging the approval of lethal injection, she doesn’t take part of voting during commission meetings. Five of the eight commissioners — Len Vohs, Fred Van Soelen, Ron Edwards, Juan Garza and Randall Crowder — expressed disapproval of the idea during the meeting.

“In my mind, what we’re doing is humane and I don’t think anybody in here knows what this is going to cost us,” Crowder said. “Let’s fund it first. There’s no reason to rush out and do this.”

Brumfield and Linda Cross, chair of a city subcommittee on euthanasia, said that a reason did exist in the form of a $100,000 promise from the governor’s office to help the city change from carbon monoxide to lethal injection.

“I asked (Governor Bill Richardson) for $100,000 and he said he would do it,” Brumfield said. “Now it’s working its way up through appropriations — so we will get the money.”

Others in attendance included Helga Schimkat, board administrator for the state’s Animal Sheltering Services Board. Schimkat said that plans are in the works at the state level for required lethal injection procedures for municipal animal control centers.

“We’ve had outside groups come in and say, ‘We’re gonna tell you backward hicks how to do it,’” Van Soelen said. “I’m telling you, that’s not the way to do it. I could care less what the governor’s office thinks about us, or other outside groups.

“I know we’re not being inhumane in the way we treat our animals.”

The mandatory spay and neuter program means pets adopted from the shelter will be discharged from the pound to a local veterinarian, where they will be fixed, at a yet-to-be-determined cost to the adopter.

Chase Gentry, chair of another subcommittee for operations and administration of the shelter, recommended a $5 yearly fee for spayed and neutered animals and a $10 fee for those who weren’t.

In other commission business, an introduction for an ordinance to approve a loan from the New Mexico Finance Authority was approved. The ordinance, if passed eventually, will provide the city $4.5 million for the design and engineering plans for a project to supply water to Clovis from Ute Lake.