Since the Animal Welfare Coalition ceased operations at the Las Vegas animal shelter in late June, there is nowhere to take the dangerous and needy strays that roam the streets of Meadow City. That’s about to change, however, according to city manager Leo Maestas, who says work is nearly complete and the animal shelter should be able to start accepting animals again this week.
AWC, which operated the shelter for more than 10 years with annual funding of more than $120,000 from the city, ceased operations last month after refusing to bid on the new shelter contract on terms requested by the city. from Vegas. In fact, no organization bid on the services, forcing the city to assume responsibility for the shelter itself.
AWC officials felt the city’s RFP was unfair and asked them to take on more services for less funding. The city argued that it was asking for fair value for the services provided. Unable to reach an agreement, the two sides went their separate ways, much to the chagrin of some local residents, who felt the town was unreasonable for the organization. These people made their voices heard at a recent town council meeting. By then, however, the decision to move on had already been made.
When the animal services contract expired at the end of June, AWC gutted the building, including the back door of the facility. Maestas told Optic that the city didn’t have an inventory list of what belonged to them before AWC resumed operations, so they had no way to stop them from taking almost everything. interior.
Over the past two weeks, work has continued to bring the shelter up to code standards and prepare the property to resume normal operations. City employees worked to make the shelter safe for workers and animals, repaint the kennels, redo the floors and ceilings, and prevent standing water from accumulating outside the kennels. The city’s insurance provider pointed to several hazards that existed inside the building, which have since been addressed.
The city has also hired three full-time staff to start as soon as the care center reopens. Their hope is to add a fourth full-time employee, potentially through a scholarship program with Animal Protection New Mexico.
Maestas insisted that shelter services would remain consistent with what the city had with the AWC, citing current standards for any shelter. He said the city has been working to build relationships with state and national organizations over the past few weeks and months to make the transition as seamless as possible. However, it is impossible to predict the obstacles ahead until operations resume.
“The city hasn’t operated the shelter in 10 years, so there’s some catching up to do,” Maestas said. “We are accelerating this process as much as possible to provide services to the community.”
According to Maestas, the purpose of the shelter remains the same as it has always been: to keep the community safe by removing dangerous and aggressive animals from the streets and providing a safe haven for animals in need.
“We have a responsibility to address community concerns, and we plan to do so,” Maestas said.
Costs to the city will remain similar to when the AWC contract was in place. Las Vegas partnered financially with San Miguel County for the project, which Maestas says will help the city keep costs around the $130,000 a year the AWC was receiving at the end of its contract.
Several volunteers who have previously helped at the shelter have pledged to continue this work, and anyone in the community who wishes to volunteer can do so by contacting the city.