Town of Kirtland residents should take animals to Aztec

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
A dog named Chevy waits to be adopted March 26, 2018 at the Aztec Animal Shelter.

KIRTLAND — Residents of incorporated areas in Kirtland should drop off unwanted or stray pets at the Aztec Animal Shelter.

The Kirtland Town Council voted 3-1 in favor of contracting with the City of Aztec, which offered lower prices than the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter.

Councilor Pete Emery cast the lone dissenting vote. Emery had initially made a motion to contract with both cities and to pay Farmington the $4,092 for animals from Kirtland’s town limits that were sheltered at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter in fiscal year 2018.

Emery said he thinks people will be unhappy about having to drive a farther distance to Aztec to drop off animals at the shelter. His motion would have made Aztec the shelter of choice for when animal control officers pick up pets inside Kirtland town limits. However, residents would also be able to take the pets to Farmington Regional Animal Shelter.

Emery’s motion died when none of the other councilors seconded the motion.

Councilor Jason Heslop said the problem was the $184 price tag per animal housed at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter. The Aztec Animal Shelter was asking for $124 per animal.

Farmington Regional Animal Shelter is pictured in a file photo from July 2016 in Farmington.

Heslop said the pet owner should be responsible for the fee.

“If you’re not responsible as a pet owner and you, your dog has 10 puppies, you just go in there and dump them off,” he said. “Well, then they’re expecting the town to pay for those dogs. To me the individual that made that choice to have those puppies can pay the bill.”

Councilor Larry Hathaway mentioned possibly adding a registration requirement with a fee for owning dogs and cats inside town limits.

Emery said animal control and sheltering animals is a problem that reaches beyond Kirtland town limits.

“It’s a problem all over the U.S. that municipalities have to deal with and nobody wants to deal with it,” Emery said. “Somebody’s got to deal with it.”

He said the vast majority of pet owners are responsible, but there will always be some who are not responsible. Emery added that not all pets taken to the shelter are taken there because the owner was not responsible.

Emery said about three years ago he took a dog to the shelter. He said he had acquired the dog after it caused problems attacking small dogs near his parents’ house. When the dog started attacking his dog, Emery said he had to take it to the shelter.

“She was a dog that was the most lovable dog around, she just did not like other dogs,” he said.

Emery described her as a goofy-looking beagle-dachshund cross.

“We took her to the pound and they actually found a home for her,” he said.

Emery said he did not even realize the county was paying the fee for the dog to be sheltered at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter. In the past, San Juan County has paid for Kirtland animals. The county has said it will no longer foot the bill.

“Those are the kinds of things that towns are stuck with, but that’s just part of being a town,” Emery said.

Mayor Mark Duncan said the town of Kirtland will be paying for animals that did not come from the residential areas of Kirtland but were abandoned along U.S. Highway 64 inside Kirtland town limits.

Duncan said the local governments are struggling to find money to pay for services for people.

“If it’s got a tag on it, feed it, call the owner, give it to him,” he said.

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