James Fenton — The Daily Times  Shelter Director Tina Roper and shelter employee Rosemary Boucher play with recent arrivals Jasper, a pit bull mix,
James Fenton — The Daily Times Shelter Director Tina Roper and shelter employee Rosemary Boucher play with recent arrivals Jasper, a pit bull mix, and two goats, Monday, June 23, 2014, at the Aztec Animal Shelter in Aztec.

AZTEC — The city's animal shelter on Sabena Street takes in mostly cats and dogs through owner surrenders or strays, but some animals come from outside city limits.

Last month, the city's animal shelter recently entered into an agreement with Bernalillo County which has increased intake fees for animals at the shelter.

At the last city meeting, commissioners approved raising intake fees at the shelter for animals received from outside city limits to $92 per animal, a more than 60 percent increase from $59 last year.

"Apparently, Albuquerque has placed a limit on animals they can take into their shelters, so they've made arrangements to bring some of their animals to Aztec," said Aztec Finance Director Kathy Lamb. "The fee increase has to do with increased costs and fewer animals, so the cost per animal is going to go up."

James Fenton — The Daily Times  Jasper, a two-year-old pit bull mix, mugs for the camera, Monday, June 23, 2014, at the Aztec Animal Shelter in
James Fenton — The Daily Times Jasper, a two-year-old pit bull mix, mugs for the camera, Monday, June 23, 2014, at the Aztec Animal Shelter in Aztec.

The increase will help pay for lab equipment and medical services the shelter administers and medical supplies for the animals it takes in, Lamb said.

Those costs added up to $127,000 last year, not including salaries for seven full-time employees and operational expenses, she said.

Last month, Aztec's shelter received 453 animals, 13 from Bernalillo, 53 from Bloomfield, 208 from San Juan County and 179 from Aztec, according to Tina Roper, animal shelter director.

Aztec's shelter charges $55 to adopt a cat or $75 for a dog. Both include spaying and neutering, basic vaccinations, a microchip and ID tag, Roper said.

The shelter is running a two-for-one special on kitten adoptions, and though its 79 dog and 42 cat kennels are not all filled, Roper is always pushing for more adoptions and volunteer help.

Matt Pepper, director of animal services for Bernalillo County, said until he can fund construction of a shelter, he will continue to rely on rescue groups and agreements with shelters like the one with Aztec.

"We are still looking for alternate providers until we can build a facility large enough to handle animals here. We're a converted fire station here, so we can house only a small number of animals here for a short period of time," Pepper said by phone on Monday. "We have to thank the city of Aztec for stepping up. We're hoping (Bernalillo County) voters will approve a $4.5 million bond issue in November to help us acquire funding to build a new center."

James Fenton — The Daily Times  Shelter Director Tina Roper and shelter employee Rosemary Boucher play, Monday, June 23, 2014, with recent arrivals
James Fenton — The Daily Times Shelter Director Tina Roper and shelter employee Rosemary Boucher play, Monday, June 23, 2014, with recent arrivals Jasper, a pit bull mix, and two goats at the Aztec Animal Shelter in Aztec

Aztec's shelter continuously seeks new homes or owners for shelter animals, including a trio that includes two goats and a dog. The trio was brought in by San Juan County animal control.

A two-year-old pit bull mix along with two six-month-old goats were found wandering County Road 5251, and staff has learned the trio prefers to stay together.

The dog-goat trio barked and bleated up such a storm when animal staff separated them, they finally gave in and placed the three together in a barn in the shelter's yard.

"If you take the dog out of the barn, the goats just holler," Roper said. "It's a charming little threesome, unless you try to break them up. We did and paid for it. Until we find their owner or someone comes to adopt them, they'll stay in the barn together. The dog thinks he's a goat and the goats think they're dogs. It's true love."

The dog, named Jasper, had a name tag and microchip with him, but the phone number on the tag was a prior owner's and the microchip data was not updated, Roper said.

"The tag goes to the old owner, who doesn't want him. He signed him over to a shelter in Colorado. He's microchipped, but it's not registered," said Rosemary Boucher, a shelter employee. I guarantee they all came together. There's no way Jasper was on his own and found two goats and said, 'Hey goats, come with me. We'll escape!'"

At Farmington Regional Animal Shelter, like Albuquerque, the problem is simple — too many dogs and cats are coming in and too few are being adopted out.

Until July 6, the shelter is lowering fees to spur more adoptions. All cats six months and older can be adopted for $20, puppies under 6 months are $80 and all dogs over six months of age $25, according to a press release from the shelter.

Calls to the shelter's director were unsuccessful.

"Everybody, open up your hearts, your homes and adopt a dog or a cat — or, heck, a dog and two goats," Roper said.

For more information, call the Aztec Animal Shelter at 505-334-6819.



James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.