County Animal Services kennels are over 100% capacity, still pushed to the brink

We see a lot of dogs that were on the highway or in areas where it was obvious they didn’t live there – Kelli Mortensen, Sandoval County Animal Care Associate

BERNALILLO — Sandoval County Animal Services is being pushed to the brink with stray animals in its care.

The kennels are well over 100% capacity, with around 25 strays – mostly medium and large dogs, plus a few cats – occupying them.

Animals are usually found stray rather than being abandoned by owners. Sandoval County Community Services Director Anne Ryan said one dog, for example, was found with non-fatal gunshot wounds to the chest and dumped on I-25.

In recent months, SCAS has found animals throughout the county, from Cuba and unincorporated Rio Rancho to Algodones and Peña Blanca.

“We see a lot of dogs that were on the highway or in areas where it was obvious they didn’t live there. And they’re also coming in with behaviors that showed they belonged on them, wanting to come in,” said Kelli Mortensen, county animal care associate.

Sandoval County Animal Care Associate Kelli Mortensen interacts with a blue hooker named Smokey on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at the county’s temporary animal shelter in Bernalillo. (Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

Although adoptions have taken place during the pandemic, officials have speculated Last year that more people were going out more and returning to the office amid easing COVID-19 restrictions and therefore couldn’t spend as much time with their pets. So these owners gave up the pets.

Today Ryan said circumstances such as the displacement of pets by the Cerro Pelado fire near Jemez Springs only compounded the ongoing problem of pet owners not caring properly animals.

“It doesn’t help us move forward trying to get some of those numbers down,” Ryan said. “The situation with COVID, which put everyone 10 steps back, then some. Sterilization and sterilization (service) were put on the back burner under COVID…The population expanded then. We don’t have a huge number of rescues and shelters like other parts of the country do, in terms of where to go.

Sometimes the county may have a pup with a tattered collar, but no microchipped ID to help contact a possible owner.

Mortensen said he heard a report on Tuesday of two adult dogs and seven puppies found in the Jemez Springs area following the fire. She also said the county has leeway to find at least a temporary solution because it has jurisdiction.

“Once we get the dogs back, we will need to find a place for them, ideally with a foster family who can take the mother and puppies and then maybe bring the father here,” she said. .

The county remains in a precarious position due to the constant influx.

“We always need space. We can’t say no. If there is a violation of the order, those animals should be confined,” Ryan said.

In addition to ongoing efforts via social media and other communication methods to place animals in foster homes, if not permanent homes, the county is targeting the I-25 corridor near exit 242 in Bernalillo as a location for a future refuge within a year or two. .

Ryan said she hopes the county can purchase a tract of land in that area by the end of the summer, adding that the Sandoval County Commission has already helped secure the necessary funding for the facility.

For those looking to adopt or foster a dog, call (505) 867-7642 or visit

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