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Animal Services: From everyday strays to exotic oddities


Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The staff at Roswell Animal Services has to be ready to handle all sorts of animal adventures. Like a six-foot-long alligator being kept as a pet in someone’s residence. Or a giant python suddenly appearing in an apartment toilet. Then there was the time a herd of cattle had to be wrangled into the back parking lot of the animal shelter while awaiting livestock welfare officials to take custody of them.

While dogs and cats are the mainstay of what animal control officers are usually dealing with day to day, the occasional alligator or snake or other unknown oddity could be waiting. Fortunately, those are the interesting exceptions to the job and not the routine responsibilities.

The mission of Roswell Animal Services is to ensure the wellbeing of both animals and residents of the community by delivering professional, high-quality, responsive and cost-effective animal-control services. Animal control officers enforce city, county and state ordinances and laws related to animals, provide animal safety and protection, ensure human safety and protection from animals, take steps to control and reduce animal disease, work toward animal population control, and educate the public about the proper care of animals.

The current staff of Animal Services, which operates under the oversight of the Roswell Police Department, includes a supervisor, four animal control officers, three kennel workers and a custodian. The staff members who take daily care of the animals are ready to answer the public’s inquiries about finding a lost pet, adopting animals at the shelter, getting help dealing with loose animals in a neighborhood, or obtaining an explanation or clarification about animal-related ordinances and requirements of pet owners.

There are plenty of dogs and cats ready for a new home with a loving owner. The various animals available for adoption may be viewed at the shelter at 705 E. McGaffey St. The shelter opens each day at 8 a.m. and animal viewing for adoptions begins at 10 a.m., continuing until the shelter closes for the day (6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday). You can view an online list of adoptable animals and enter specific search criteria for the type of dog or cat you may be interested in by visiting www.rpdp2c.org and clicking on Animal Services. Information about requirements to adopt an animal is found at www.roswell-nm.gov/176/Animal-Services. Animal Services can be contacted by phone at 575-624-6722.

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One thing Animal Services does not offer is extermination services. Some people don’t realize this and call to request an animal control officer eliminate some bees or rodents at a residence or other location. Another misconception is that Animal Services provides veterinarian services. It doesn’t. Any animals at the shelter that need medical care beyond basics that can be provided there are taken to one of the local veterinarians.

While bees and rodents are not in their purview, animal control officers will indeed handle the rare residential alligator or wandering pet python. The alligator that was being kept illegally by a local resident was seized and relocated to an appropriate zoo. The python discovered in the toilet was the pet of the person who lived in the apartment one floor above. It had escaped its cage, found its way into the sewer and came out in the apartment below. Animal control officers took hold of the snake’s head and body and maneuvered it out of the toilet. It was returned to its owner with a plea to make sure it doesn’t get loose again.

For Roswell’s residents who own the more traditional pets, Animal Services urges they take responsible steps to keep the city’s dog and cat populations from unnecessarily increasing and potentially creating more stray and unwanted animals: Have pets spayed or neutered. Take care to ensure pets are secure in a yard or other property — or are on a leash if out for a walk or being taken elsewhere (leashes are not required at the dog park).

Also, ensure female dogs and cats in heat cannot get loose and other dogs and cats cannot access the yard or property where the animal in heat is kept.

Roswell city code requires owners of dogs and cats to have a veterinarian vaccinate them for rabies. In addition, any city resident who owns a dog must obtain a city license for the dog within 30 days of the dog reaching three months of age. Those licenses are purchased at Animal Services.

Through cooperative efforts of Animal Services and the citizens it serves, proper care and responsible practices can be promoted as the city and its residents take steps in addressing animal issues.

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