Since 2013, Animal Welfare Coalition has contracted with the City of Las Vegas and the County of San Miguel to run the pet center in Las Vegas at 1680 Grand Ave. Animal control officers and citizens bring stray animals into the shelter. Many are malnourished, sick, or injured. Few have licenses, proof of rabies vaccinations, or identification. AWC has an unparalleled track record of success rescuing and placing 91 percent of the animals that come through the shelter.
In this Q&A, AWC president, Marshall Poole, talks about the organization and its impact in the community.
ORP: What is the Animal Welfare Coalition (AWC)?
Marshall: The Animal Welfare Coalition of Northeastern New Mexico was created in 2008 by local citizens compelled to address the cruelty and neglect of cats and dogs in and around Las Vegas. AWC is made up of volunteers who gained community trust by assisting with pet food, providing low-cost spay and neuter services, and rescuing, rehabilitating, and finding adoptive homes for sick, injured, and forgotten animals. Staff and volunteers also capture feral cats in neighborhoods throughout the AWC service area and have them spayed or neutered and released so feral colony sizes are gradually reduced. Much of our work is accomplished with the help of students and community volunteers.
ORP: Who is on the AWC board?
Marshall: Donna Rivas, Troy Denison, Roxanne M. Gonzales (Highlands VP and Provost), Carmen Holguín, Tina Holguín, Irene Kranenburg, Joel Pikarsky, Angel Romero and Eric Benevidez. I serve as board president.
ORP: What is the AWC vision and mission?
Marshall: We seek to create a humane and just world for animals. Our mission is, “To promote humane principles, compassionate care, and prevention of cruelty to animals.”
ORP: Where are animals sheltered?
Marshall: Animals are sheltered in the city-owned building just south of city offices.
ORP: How successful is AWC in rescuing injured and forgotten animals?
Marshall: We have a 91 percent-plus, live-outcome rate. That means if an animal enters the shelter alive, it has a greater than 91 percent chance of being returned to an owner or placed in a safe, adoptive home. The only exceptions are animals that are so injured that there is no hope that they could recover and live a humane life, or animals that are so aggressive they cannot be socialized enough to be safely placed with an adoptive family.
In 2016, we took in nearly 1,900 animals from city and county animal control and from citizens. We transported approximately 1,200 out of the county for adoption elsewhere, mostly Colorado. Other areas, like Colorado, need our animals for adoption since they actually enforce their spaying and neutering laws locally.
ORP: How is your organization funded?
Marshall: We have the contract with the city and with the county to shelter animals brought in by citizens or animal control. In addition, we have multiple grants for veterinary care and spaying or neutering animals, and we benefit from the ArtBark auction.
ORP: What are funds used for?
Marshall: City and county funds go primarily toward general operating costs, including staff time to clean and disinfect all kennels daily.
Most grant monies are used for spaying and neutering animals, veterinary expenses like vaccines and other medications, and veterinary care for sick or injured animals. We also maintain both dog and cat isolation wards for animals that need special treatment or are contagious.
We also conduct an active Trap-Neuter-Return program with feral cats. Feral cat colonies are photographed and cats are then trapped. After spaying or neutering, the cats are returned to their original colonies. Research shows that Trap-Neuter-Return is the best way to gradually reduce feral colony sizes.
ORP: What is ArtBark?
Marshall: This is the fourth year for the largest fundraiser conducted on behalf of The Animal Welfare Coalition so we may continue to provide outreach, animal welfare education, food and low cost spay/neuter in San Miguel and surrounding counties.
ORP: What do you want artists to know about entering work for inclusion in ArtBark?
Marshall: The Call to Artists has gone out through several channels for an event that provides a large part of the AWC’s yearly budget. This is due to the generosity of area artists and artisans and their participation in ArtBark. Organizers are seeking donations of art, jewelry and fine crafts for a live and silent auction event at NMHU Kennedy Hall on Nov. 18, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Artists who want to participate are asked to submit via an online submission form, jpeg images of up to three pieces of their original work. The show will be curated and one or all submissions may be included, depending partly on the number of entries. Types of art sought includes photographs, paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, metal, wood, mixed media, found-object art, and other. Interested artists may find more information at the ArtBark link, which will guide you through the process .
ORP: What do you want patrons to know about attending the ArtBark event?
Marshall: Donated funds allow the AWC to save many injured or abandoned animals that would otherwise be lost. Funds coming from grants and donors have enabled us to surpass a 91 percent live-outcome rate, which is very high in New Mexico, especially for smaller and more rural communities. Put ArtBark on your calendar for Nov. 18, 4-7 p.m. in NMHU Kennedy Hall and ensure AWC may continue its important work.
For more information about ArtBark, contact Donna Rivas (518-258-7825), Meredith Britt (505-426-8575) or Troy Denison (505-718-6996).
What: ArtBark Silent and Live Auction
When: Nov. 18, 4-7 p.m.
Where: NMHU Kennedy Hall
Benefit for: Animal Welfare Coalition