Aztec Animal Shelter in need of volunteer drivers to transport animals to other rescues

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com
A black Labrador and pit bull mix named "Nacho," seen here on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 at Aztec Animal Shelter sits inside a transport van. The shelter's in need of extra volunteer drivers to transport animals to other rescues in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming.

AZTEC — Aztec Animal Shelter is facing two immediate dilemmas: too many animals and not enough volunteers to drive some of them to a larger population center where they might find new homes.

The shelter uses transport vans to bring dogs and cats — many of which are strays — to various rescues across Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming. Shelter director Tina Roper said at least another four or five volunteer drivers are needed to do the job adequately. 

During transport days, such as Saturdays and Mondays, and Roper said the driver shortage means the shelter has to pick one day or the other.

“We’d like to get them out. We’d like to get them to a forever home, and we have too many here to get them all adopted out,” Roper said. “One of our drivers is fixing to move, so that’s going to make us a little more shorthanded... We just have a shortage right now. Some of the people that were driving for us can no longer do that.”

Animal shelters, public transportation and private transportation providers are essential services in New Mexico, but Roper said specific start dates for new volunteer drivers would depend on the next steps for the public health guidelines.

Aztec Animal Shelter is in need of extra volunteer drivers to transport animals to other rescues in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming.

In getting the animals up to somewhere like Denver, where Roper said the larger population helps increase adoption odds, AAS meets up with other rescues such as Colorado-based “Paws on the Go.”

The animals are transferred at a rendezvous point such as Del Norte, Colorado, which is at about the halfway point to Denver.

“You go to the bigger cities, they have a bigger group of people who are wanting to adopt than here. There’s a lot more people in Denver than here,” Roper said.

Roper also said locations like Denver have had mandatory spay and neuter policies in place for a longer period of time compared to places like Aztec.

“They don’t have quite the overpopulation problem that we have I don’t think,” Roper said.

Roper said AAS, which is located at 825 Sabena St. in Aztec, still does a good number of adoptions, but relies on the other rescues for animals they may struggle to get adopted for one reason or another.

“We have more animals than we have adopters lining up at the door to take them,” Roper said.

For those who want to be a volunteer driver, Roper said she will need a copy of one’s driving record to show they can be dependable when crossing state lines. Roper also said she will need one’s address, contact information and hours of availability. 

Those interested in being a volunteer driver can call 505-334-6819 or email aztecshelter@aztenm.gov.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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