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AZTEC — County Operations Officer Mike Stark credited aggressive spay and neuter campaigns with reducing the number of animals from unincorporated areas that are taken to the Farmington and Aztec animal shelters.

During a County Commission meeting Tuesday, Stark said in fiscal year 2011 there were about 8,000 animals taken to the two shelters from the unincorporated areas. In fiscal year 2018, that number decreased to approximately 5,000 animals.

“Spaying and neutering is working in San Juan County,” Stark said.

Farmington Regional Animal Shelter Director Stacie Voss said there has been a downward trend in animals taken to local shelters over the past decade. She said the Farmington shelter used to receive more than 10,000 animals annually. That number is currently approximately 7,000 animals a year. Voss said Farmington Regional Animal Shelter has consistently taken in about 7,000 animals each year since the shelter opened.

Prior to the new shelter opening in 2013, the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter did not have a vet spaying and neutering animals prior to adoption. That meant people who adopted dogs and cats had to take them to local veterinary clinics using vouchers to get them spayed and neutered. That has since changed. Now the shelter requires every dog and cat be spayed or neutered before it is adopted.

The number of dogs and cats coming in from Navajo Nation has also decreased in the last year. In fiscal year 2017, 45 percent of the county animals taken to Farmington Regional Animal Shelter were from Navajo Nation. In fiscal year 2018, that number decreased to 33 percent.

County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said the tribe has worked with nonprofits on spay and neuter initiatives on Navajo Nation. The county currently pays for animals from the Navajo Nation that are taken to the two animal shelters.

The dogs and cats picked up by San Juan County animal control officers are taken to the Aztec Animal Shelter, which means all of the county animals taken to Farmington’s shelter are dropped off by owners or people who have found them.

The San Juan County Commission approved rates it will pay to house animals at both shelters. It will pay $127.27 per animal that goes to the Aztec Animal Shelter. Based on the animals that went to the shelter last fiscal year, that will be approximately $257,000.

It will pay a fixed fee of $575,000 to the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter. The county pays nearly 46 percent of the operating costs for the shelter, which is because approximately 46 percent of animals at the shelter are from unincorporated areas of San Juan County, according to Stark.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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