Monday, November 8, 2010

Las Cruces Animal Control - Some Suggestions For You

Las Cruces animal control have been doing sweeps of a mobile home park and certain neighborhoods, issuing warnings and giving folks a week to comply with licensing and vaccine requirements.

Going door to door can be a highly effective means of community building, increasing awareness and targeting problem areas with viable solutions.

Calgary, for example, which is held up as a bastion of an animal control program with integrity utilizes door-door tactics. Kern County has dramatically increased licensing rates with a similar door-door program as well (they have a new director, so we'll see if the program stays).

Las Cruces can take a page from Calgary and Kern County with just how they implement their neighborhood sweeps. Going door-door issuing citations or warnings is only a good way to alienate and criminalize who might otherwise be law-abiding citizens. Further, it creates an aura of fear and distrust toward animal control.

Here are some tried and true suggestions to improve licensing compliance while improving community support:
* Coordinate neighborhood sweeps with low-cost spay/neuter and vaccine clinics WITHIN walking distance of the area.
* Do not issue warnings or citations. Instead, issue pamphlets with a license application and nearby vaccine clinics. Let them know re-checks will occur within 2-3 weeks and THEN warnings will be issued (followed by actual citations).
* Make licensing a dog or cat easy with online applications. Work with pet stores and grocery stores to have licensing applications and informational pamphlets on pertinent animal control issues (loose animals, licensing, vaccinations, disease management, castration, behavioral training, etc).

I think neighborhood "sweeps", when done right, can be a great tool for animal control AND for the public. When done wrong, though, you have stories like out of Las Cruces in which the citizens who pay for animal control services are further alienated and unnecessarily criminalized. We can be better than this.

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