HELP AN ANIMAL: HELP YOUR COMMUNITY
By Nancy Marano
Kris Keller, AHA Educational volunteer, and students.
(photo by Kate Kuligowski, AHA)
Humane Society of Taos, Inc.
When the new shelter was built in 1995 and the name was changed to the Humane Society, the Board felt a responsibility to broaden their activities in doing more educational programs. According to shelter director, Lindsay Dinkins-Eden, “Last spring we went into the schools with representatives from the Community Against Violence, a women’s shelter. We were able to get the message out that there is a connection between animal abuse and domestic violence. Children were very responsive and willing to discuss things they had seen. During a field trip one class had witnessed someone abusing a dog. They didn’t know what to do and didn’t realize there was someone they could tell. It was our opportunity to help them discuss it and explain to them how to report what they see.” Based on this experience, the Society plans to visit schools more often this year.
Serving Taos, Rio Arriba and Colfax counties, the Society processes 2,500 animals per year. “Most of the animals we get are dogs,” says Dinkins-Eden. “We have a 40-60% adoption rate for dogs and almost 100% for cats.“
All incoming animals are kept four days to determine their health status, then put up for adoption. Every animal that comes in is given basic health care. If the animal comes from Taos, the owner has seven days to reclaim it.
To promote adoption, the Society regularly runs pictures of its animals in the Taos News and Dinkins-Eden talks about shelter animals on a KTAO-FM (101.9) radio program. The Society has a tile production program where people can have their pets memorialized by an artist; then the tiles are placed in the lobby of the shelter.
“Shelters provide a service people don’t always understand,” says Dinkins-Eden. “They often say, ‘I don’t know how you do this.’ My response is that it’s a gift that I was able to do it. Many of the animals that come here are experiencing the best time of their lives. They’ve been on the street and starving because nobody cared.”
To volunteer or request more information, call the Humane Society of Taos at (505) 758-2981.
Animal Humane Association of New Mexico
Albuquerque area school children in 762 classrooms benefited from Animal Humane Association of New Mexico’s (AHA) “FOREVER” program during the 1998-99 school year. Dedicated volunteers led by Kate Kuligowski, Volunteer Education Coordinator, talked to students about the fact that you and your companion animal are together forever. They also stressed how to care for a companion animal and discussed the importance of spaying and neutering dogs and cats.
“Our volunteers gave presentations to more than 13,000 students and adults in classrooms, at day camps and for service organizations,” Kuligowski said. “Our programs are age-appropriate and incorporate Albuquerque Public Schools’ ‘Character Counts’ guidelines. Presentations include a video or hands-on activity. We offer story time for school librarians, Career Day displays with speakers for various school levels and programs for PTO, PTA and senior citizen organizations.” Kuligowski firmly believes that education is the only means to lessen the numbers of abused, abandoned or euthanized pets.
All volunteers must attend an AHA general orientation session as well as training for the education program. If you are interested in volunteering for this program or wish to schedule a presentation, call Kate Kuligowski at (505) 298-8048 or (505) 255-5523 x4177.
Deming Humane Society
Mondays find Mary Gooding, Deming Humane Society (DHS) Manager, on a radio talk show hosted by Dorothy Bennett, a DHS board member. They are promoting pet adoption and statistics prove that stories of shelter animals have touched many hearts and increased their adoption rate. Even U.S. Customs has adopted several dogs to be trained as drug dogs.
Approximately 171 animals a month come through DHS, a shelter which has only 33 indoor/outdoor dog kennels and 18 cat cages. Generally, animals are held at least three days, but some remain longer. DHS also works with the Deming chapter of Animal Protection of New Mexico, often helping them with “hardship” cases. “The number one reason we get animals is because people just don’t care,” says Gooding. The second reason is because people aren’t spaying and neutering their animals, a topic of utmost importance to Gooding.
DHS has the only pet cemetery in the area, housing over 3,000 animals and one person who actually chose to be buried there between her two dogs.
Currently, DHS is working to raise funds for their expansion into a new building. For more information about the building fund, contact Louise Coffman at (505) 546-9510. To volunteer at DHS, call the shelter at (505) 546-2024.
Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society
This shelter is a proactive organization that promotes and facilitates community involvement on many levels. It is aptly named as it is working to create a more humane society for the benefit of animals, humans and the earth itself.
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society (SFASHS) was established in 1939 and currently shelters over 7,000 animals each year. They primarily take stray or abandoned dogs and cats. During the summer months they receive an average of twenty animals per day.
Their successful adoption program finds homes for about 75% of the animals and is working to increase that to 100%. In 1998, there was a 26% increase in adoptions. All adopted animals are spayed or neutered.
Over the past three years, SFASHS has evolved into a proactive organization focusing on humane education in the community and on the prevention of abuse, neglect and abandonment of companion animals. Educating people towards a compassion-based relationship with their pets is one of the first and most important steps. Many times, it is a matter of people learning how to communicate with their animals. That may require the aid of a professional pet trainer, good book or video.
Kate Greenway, an educator and counselor for over 25 years, is the Director of Humane Education. Greenway believes that in order to prevent neglect and cruelty toward animals and others, children need to be taught, as part of the school curriculum, the skills of kindness, empathy and respect toward other living creatures. Recent studies regarding the effects of humane education in the classroom show positive progress. Greenway states, “Humane education is about relating to animals humanely and also to other human beings and to the earth itself. It’s really a very deep issue that we are working with here.”
To volunteer at SFASHS or to learn more about the humane education program, call (505) 989-3722.
These shelters and their diverse programs are only a sample of what is happening throughout the state. Visit your local shelter and thank them for all they do to make the community a better place for everyone – animals and humans alike.
Nancy Marano is a freelance writer living in Albuquerque. She shares life with two cats, Heidi and Sammy S. Cat. Maggie May, a West Highland White Terrier, is the newest member of the household.
Note: This article first appeared in the Fall/Winter 1999 issue.
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