Letter: Beware town takeover of animal shelter

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The proposed take over of the Stray Hearts Mortgage by the town is worrisome. I have serious concerns about the potential impact such an arrangement might have on the operation of the shelter and the welfare of the animals.

The mortgage amount is $200,000, and the payments are $1,200 per month. The shelter’s monthly expenses are – at approximately $56,000 per month per The Taos News Sept. 7 – substantially higher than $1,200, so the new arrangement by itself would not appear to have a dramatic effect on the shelter’s financial situation; in fact it could likely save that amount or more monthly by making some adjustments to its present budget. So why give up your independence for an amount that really doesn’t do that much to improve your financial sustainability?

It is not yet clear what the details of the agreement might be, but it seems that at a minimum it would give the town some degree of control over the shelter, possibly quite a bit of control. And if the town’s views on the details of the operation (holding periods for animals, staffing levels, etc.) differed from those of Stray Hearts, which entity would prevail? And even if the initial agreement is totally satisfactory, there is always the possibility that a future town administration, with different views on the animal situation, somewhere down the road could change it.

It is a good thing that the town wants to help the shelter, and I (we) hope that they and the board will continue to work together to find a mutually satisfactory way for the town to assist financially. But, in all honesty, the proposed mortgage takeover doesn’t appear to be the right answer.

– Pennie Herrera Wardlow, Northern New Mexico

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