Raising the bar in animal welfare

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I received news from Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) regarding another way we can help our state’s animal nonprofits. We can donate our state tax refunds to work for New Mexico animals.

APNM reports, “The deadline to file taxes is just a few weeks away, so New Mexicans can still use New Mexico’s PIT D form to donate all or a portion of their state income tax refund to help a number of New Mexico needy causes. This year, New Mexicans can make a real, lasting difference in the lives of our state’s cats, dogs, horses, donkeys and mules by contributing to statewide initiatives.” They are:

• The Horse Shelter Rescue Fund (Line 13 on the PIT D form).

• Animal Care and Facility Fund for the statewide spay and neuter program (Line 14 on the PIT D form).

For the first time ever, on line 14 of the PIT D form, New Mexicans can write in the exact amount they wish to contribute to the Animal Care and Facility Fund, which will be distributed across the state for affordable and accessible spay and neuter services.

Voluntary contributions of tax refunds to these funds not only help save costs, but they help save lives, according to APNM.

The form can be downloaded at www.apnm.org/images/2015pit-d.pdf or by asking for one from your tax preparer.

“A contribution to the Animal Care and Facility Fund is a crucial step toward eradicating the needless suffering and death that comes with dog and cat overpopulation,” APNM notes.

Contributions can be made at any time of the year, not just during tax season. For more information on contributing to the Horse Shelter Rescue Fund, contact Phil Carter, APNM’s equine program manager, at phil@apnm.org or (505) 265-2322. To learn more about giving to the Animal Care and Facility Fund, contact Leslie King, APNM’s program director, at leslie@apnm.org or (505) 265-2322.

According to the Animal Defense League (aldf.org), New Mexico ranks in the lowest tier of the 50 states for animal welfare. Actually, just about the very bottom of the list.

Following is the criteria on which our 50 states are rated: general prohibitions, penalties, exemptions; mental health evaluations and counseling; protective orders; cost mitigation and recovery; seizure/impoundment; forfeiture and post‐conviction possession; non‐animal agency reporting of suspected animal cruelty; veterinarian reporting of suspected animal cruelty; law enforcement policies; sexual assault; fighting; offender registration; and “ag gag” legislation.

Taos still struggles with the challenges of animal cruelty and neglect. Not a week passes that I don’t get calls reporting animals in dire need of intervention and help.

Twenty years ago, I moved to Taos and rapidly observed the numbers of animals on the streets — dead on the side of the roads or roaming at large. I have seen large dog packs in the sage fields and fending for their survival.

The animal shelter here was a horror show due to the number of animals it was expected to care for with burnt-out staff and kennels stacked on top of each other with dogs and cats. An animal control officer unauthorizedly and illegally carried a gun and used it on animal calls. Animals were euthanized by the dozens every week. The “Animal of the Week” photographed for The Taos News was euthanized before the week was over. Oh, yes, all of this is true.

Now 20 years later, through the committed and dedicated compassion of our animal advocates and rescuers, Taos is a safer place for our animals. Animal nonprofits providing spay/neuter and shelter have made a significant change. Animal ordinance laws have been made stricter, such as a no-chain law.

We are consistently raising the bar here for animal welfare. Our animal shelter is the best it has ever been and keeps getting better. Say, “Yes, I will help fund the welfare of our animals” by getting the state Pit D form. Let’s keep raising the bar for our animals!

Contact Trish Hernandez at taosbark@gmail.com or (575) 613-3448.

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