Animal Shelter: Divergent perspectives on ‘progress’

September 30, 2010

ANNOUNCEMENTS. (To get your announcement in our events calendar, neuropathologist e-mail information by the 15th of the month before publication to grassrootspress@gmail.com   Priority will be given to events with a progressive or social justice theme or arts, oncologist music and cultural happenings that resonate with a sustainable lifestyle.)

Southwest Environmental Center, 275 N. Downtown Mall, 575-522-5552.

Fall 2010 Back by Noon outings are here! The complete schedule of SWEC’s Fall 2010 Back by Noon guided natural history outings is now on our website. Check it out here <http://www.wildmesquite.org/files/Fall_2010_flyer_incomplete.pdf> .

Unitarian Universalist Church, 2000 S. Solano,

Roundtable Schedule for August 2010. Roundtables are held from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the library.

Oct.  3, Paul O’Connell: My Afghanistan Experience

Paul O’Connell will discuss the nature of his assignment in Afghanistan; results of discussions and observations; and likelihood of military/development success in that war-torn country.

Oct 10, Paul Lawrence: Visioning the Divine
How does the perception of the divine shape the religions of the world? Are Buddha and Jesus experiencing the same reality? How do UU’s live their religion if religion is individuals’ response to their experience of the divine? Is faith based on personal experience or on reason?  Can we at the Round Table share the perception of the reality that unites us?

Oct 17, Panel Discussion: What it Means to be Vegan

The Ethics of Eating Committee is bringing a panel discussion to Round Table on the topic of “Veganism- What it Means to be Vegan.”  Three panel members will present their connection to the topic, followed by a Q&A period. Panel members are Rosario Escobedo, Brian Johnson, and Joe Miele. Rosario has a degree in nutrition, is a wellness assistant at the food co-op and funds vegan meals while doing service work in Juarez. Brian has a master’s degree in communication, and is the program director at the Las Cruces Boys & Girls Club, where he provides activities in humane and environmental education, including the cultivation of a vegetable garden on-site. Joe is the president of the Coalition to Abolish Sports Hunting based in Las Cruces, a manger at Mountain View Market, an animal rights activist and a long-time vegan.

Oct. 24, Michael Hughes, Joyce Campbell-Leyman, Tom Packard: Fundraiser Brainstorming

The purpose of this discussion is to come up with an idea for a large fundraiser for Casa de Peregrinos.  This would be an additional fundraiser, not a replacement for current fundraisers.  While our congregation and other groups have been very generous in their contributions to Casa de Peregrinos, the need is far greater than the existing contributors can handle. We need a fundraiser that will entice enough interest and support to generate a sizable sum ($25k/$50k) from a wide spectrum of the population. Think about this problem and bring your ideas.
Oct. 31, Dale Robison: MORE LIFE

Human fascination and yearning for an after-life stretches from Neanderthals to modern humans and  from the Orient to the Occident. The concepts include portrayals from the real to the surreal, the ascetic to the erotic, fabulous cities to walled gardens, bored luxury to working for progress. Heaven also includes the idea of “The Rapture” of all living Christians caught up in a nanosecond into the sky to meet Jesus. Never tailgate a car with a bumper sticker which reads “Warning: The Driver Of This Car May Disappear Instantaneously.”

RECURRING EVENTS

  • EVERY WEDNESDAY from 4-6 p.m. Weekly Peace Vigil near the Federal Building, Church and Griggs, in downtown Las Cruces. Bring signs, water and sunscreen. Exact location may vary due to construction.
  • EVERY MONDAY from 5-6 p.m., Peace Vigil at Veteran’s Park, under the rotunda. For information visit http://clearmindzen.org
  • EVERY TUESDAY (ALBUQUERQUE) BE PEACE!  Join our Yang-style tai chi group each Tuesday evening 7-8 pm at the Harwood Art Center at 7th and Mountain Streets downtown Albuquerque.  For more info visit harwoodartcenter.org and click on the “classes” tab, or call 505 792.4519.
  • EVERY 1st and 3rd FRIDAY, 7 p.m. Howling Coyote Coffeehouse, New location: First Christian Church, 1809 El Paseo, directly east and across the street from Las Cruces High. Open mic music and poetry, refreshments. Doors open at 6:30. More information, Bob Burns, 525-9333.
  • EVERY 2nd and 4th FRIDAY NIGHT from 7 pm to 9:30 p.m., Open Mic at Starbuck’s on University. More information, contact Larry Stocker, 496-3638.
  • EVERY SUNDAY (ALMOST), 7 p.m. Open Mic at Starbuck’s on Valley. More information, contact Larry Stocker, 496-3638.
  • EVERY SUNDAY, The Sunday Growers Market takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mountain View Market, in the Idaho Crossings Center Parking Lot, 1300 El Paseo, Las Cruces, N.M
  • FOURTH THURSDAY: Progressive Voter Alliance monthly meetings, Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite. Next meeting Thursday, Oct. 28. More information, www.pva-nm.org
  • EVERY SATURDAY, CineMatinee. Each and every Saturday afternoon, a quality-talking picture (with an occasional silent one) will be screened at the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla, 2469 Calle de Guadalupe, one block south of the plaza. All screenings begin at 1.30 p.m., unless otherwise noted.  Admission is $4, or $1 for Mesilla Valley Film Society members. For more information, please call 524-8287 or 522-0286 or visit our web site: http://mesillavalleyfilm.org

CineMatinee October

Oct. 2, Mars Attacks! (1996, 100 minutes, rated PG-13). Ever want to see the U.S. Congress evaporated by a Martian ray gun? We thought so…hence, one of many reasons to come and see this off-the-wall comedy starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, and, believe it or not, Tom Jones (among many others). What is Mars Attacks!? A satire of modern America? A `60s B-Movie with a `90s budget? A sideswipe at the output of the Hollywood film industry? A chance to see lots of Hollywood stars and bits of Las Vegas get blown up? The film debut of Tom Jones? All of the above and more. Most importantly though Mars Attacks! is silly good fun. Film historian and archivist Jay Duncan will present footage from a few noteworthy examples of Mars-related films as an introduction to Tim Burton’s 1996 seriocomic homage, after the presentation; make sure and stay for a Q&A.

Oct . 9, Not Columbus Day Celebration.  Note: This event will start at 1 pm with a performance by Grammy Award winning musician, Yolanda Martinez.

Reel Injun (2010, 85 minutes, small parts shot in NM). Director Neil Diamond (a member of Canada’s Cree community) offers a look at the past, present and future of Native People on the big screen in the documentary Reel Injun, which includes interviews with actors Adam Beach, Graham Greene and Sacheen Littlefeather, filmmaker Chris Eyre and artists and activists John Trudell and Russell Means; Clint Eastwood and Jim Jarmusch also speak about Hollywood’s history and their own experiences in presenting Native Americans in their films. Followed by Reclaiming Their Voice; this 25 minute documentary follows people moving from disenfranchisement to becoming politically active. Closing with The Color of Hope (15 minutes, 2010). This short film is a collaborative effort of 20 Native American female artists that have donated their music for the benefit of the CD and DVD project. The goal of this project is to improve the lives of battered women, their children, and others impacted by domestic violence; providing education and raising public awareness; and connecting members of the community to direct service providers.

Oct. 16, The Hired Hand (1971, 90 minutes, made in NM). After years of roaming, and, being on the heels of bad trouble in the remote high desert, Harry Collings (Peter Fonda) decides to return to the wife and child he left behind to pursue his nomadic wanderings. His wife, Hannah (Verna Bloom) at first refuses to accept him and orders him to sleep in the barn alongside his friend and fellow saddle tramp Arch Harris, seen in a magnificent co-starring role by Warren Oates. Handsomely shot by Vilmos Szigmond, the film begins with one of the most beautiful sequences in film history. As director, Fonda refuses to force the action and captures sensitive, moving turns from the terrific Oates and a performance from Bloom that caused Fonda’s sister Jane to declare her brother had made a feminist western, which is also enhanced by its gentle lyrical soundtrack.

Oct. 23, Power (1986, 111 minutes, partially shot in New Mexico). Richard Gere is a campaign consultant. New Mexico resident Gene Hackman is his former mentor. Julie Christie is his ex-wife. And Denzel Washington is the lobbyist who will change his life. This story of politics and power is less about pot boiling and more about slow simmering. It is about scenes in the life of a campaign and what it may take to get the power a given candidate wants.  The performances are strong, and the subject will hold your interest throughout. Take a look behind the scenes at the people with real power, the ones who are putting the highest bidder into political offices around the world.

Oct. 30, Sunshine (2007, 107 minutes, rated R). As the sun begins to dim along with humankind’s hope for the future, it’s up to a desperate crew of eight astronauts to reach the dying star and reignite the fire that will bring life back to planet Earth in this tense psychological sci-fi thriller lead by director Danny Boyle, whose previous work includes Slumdog Millionaire. The skies are darkening, and the outlook for planet Earth is grim. Though the encroaching darkness at first seems unstoppable, scientists have concocted one desperate last-ditch plan to buy the human race a temporary reprieve from the grim future that looms just past the horizon. Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Michelle Yeoh star in a film that asks audiences just what would become of humankind if the sky suddenly went black.

OTHER EVENTS

• Oct. 14, Palomas Cooperative Sale of Artisanry, Silver City Tour Bus to Palomas, Chihuahua, and Lunch at the Pink Store, 10 am to 4pm in Palomas, Chihuahua, kitty corner to the Pink Store. Go to Palomas, Chihuahua, on the Corre Caminos sponsored by Isaacs of Silver City,  to and from Silver City. Have a wonderful lunch and margaritas at the famous and inviting Pink Store and support the ladies of Palomas who are trying to earn a living for their families. La Cooperativa de la Frontera, a group of women making handmade artisanry, such as hand-embroidered clothing, crocheted, knit, woven and sewn purses, rag baskets, rag rugs, beautiful jewelry and many other handmade items will be selling from 10 am to 4 pm in front of the Palomas City Hall or Presidencia, just kitty corner to the Pink Store. For more information please write Janet Shepard, janetsh@homernet.net or call 575-313-9685. Call Isaacs at 575-388-4090 to schedule the bus or drop by Isacc’’ in Silver City to put your name on the list.

• Oct. 23, Create Your Wild Legacy, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance  2010 Wilderness Conference, at The Bosque School in Albuquerque, 9 am-3 pm. Admission $20. includes lunch. $10 for students. This year’s Wilderness Conference is sure to instill new vigor and dedication in all who love, enjoy or work to protect New Mexico’s wildest landscapes!   A special journaling workshop delves into the richness of experiencing wild nature.  Here, attendees create a living notebook from reflections on nature through drawing, writing and alternative media.  A special award will be presented to Senator Jeff Bingaman for his outstanding work to protect Wilderness. Renowned landscape photographer David Muench will do a slide presentation honoring the memory of Stewart Udall, former Secretary of the Interior. Endangered species stenciling and wildlife viewing sessions will be held outside in the Bosque, during lunch.  A DVD highlights the work on the Mexican Wolf conservation stamp and a silent auction of weekend getaways and fun items round out the dayRegister on-line at www.nmwild.org or contact Trisha at 505-843-8696, ext. 1001 or Roger, ext. 1004 for details.

• Oct. 23, On the River, For the River. Mark your calendars! SWEC’s annual gala fundraiser—On the River, For the River—is only a month away on Saturday, Oct. 23, 5-10:30 pm. This year’s event promises to be another great party under the stars at the beautiful Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, featuring great food and beverages, music, tours of the park, a silent auction, and of course, great company! Tickets are now on sale on our website <http://www.wildmesquite.org/civicrm/event/register?reset=1&amp;id=1>  and at SWEC’s office. Tickets are $50 in advance, $55 after 10/20. If you are not a member of SWEC, you can purchase a ticket for $55 ($60 after 10/20) and get a complimentary one-year membership. More information : 575 522-5552.

• Nov. 13, Electronics Recycling, 9 am – 1 pm, County Government Center parking lot, 845 N. Motel Blvd. Back by popular demand, second annual e-recycling event, sponsored by SCSWA and SCRaP. List of items accepted: Old computers, computer parts, printers, cell phones, laptops, televisions, cables (wire), copiers, fax machines, networking equipment, audio equipment (stereos, CBs, 2-way radios, etc.), electronic test equipment, many more items – virtually anything that plugs in. More information: 575-528-3800.
By Steve Klinger

You’ve been in a growing malaise for a couple of years now, tadalafil
watching your retirement account shrink and your home value sink as your nation flounders in gridlocked futility.

Before that, discount
you endured eight years of Bush and Cheney that drained the Treasury and the national spirit with an unjust and immoral war in one country and a bungled, unending nightmare in another. On the home front, an enormous real estate bubble concealed a putrescent financial foundation fathered by greed and government collusion that undermined the crucial regulatory process.

Maybe you thought you saw a way forward and had come out of political hibernation in 2008 and shared that exhilarating historic moment with much of the world.

But since around Jan. 20, 2009, things have gone steadily downhill as you watched your silly hopes deflated a day at a time by the corporatism exerting its reality all around you.

All the while the great purveyor of hope and lofty campaign rhetoric continued to espouse bipartisan solutions in a shark tank where he is the live bait. You began to wonder about his own sharklike traits. Torture, assassination, extraordinary rendition? What happened to the pledges and promises that inspired you? As more than one blogger has noted, real change turned to chump change.

You see rich white men angry that the world is increasingly not composed of other rich white men to help them hold the unwashed masses at bay while convincing the latter it’s all in their own best interest.

Your see young inner city men and women angry that there are no jobs, no affordable housing, no hope, no money to buy the cheap crap from China, where their jobs have all gone.

You see Tea Partiers and middle-aged Heartlanders angry that their American Dream has been hijacked by what they say is big government but what they mean is minority party-crashers who want to redistribute the wealth. Their wealth. Or maybe their potential wealth.

You note that most other Americans are merely resigned, apathetic, distracted and addicted, eating themselves to death on the couch while the reality shows play out their fantasies and society crumbles around them in quiet microfractures. Who needs a conspiracy when free enterprise does such a wonderful job of empowering the oligarchy by drugging the willfully complicit legions with games, gadgets and high fructose corn syrup?

The dissolution of the Great American Empire rattles along inexorably, all around us, yet we still need to find a way forward because we’re alive and people plus planet are suffering – and Election Day 2010 is nearly upon us.

Maybe this is you: Disillusioned by the millions, voters who punched the ticket for change two years ago talk about staying home this time or even voting Republican in their anger and frustration. Those emotions are not greatly misplaced, given the infuriating spinelessness of the Democratic Congress, the uninspired leadership in the White House and the success of the obstructionist, lockstep Republicans. When things seem hopeless, inspiration is in short supply. Once bitten, twice shy.

But take note of this too: Worthwhile change never comes from the top down, and it never comes smoothly and without great resistance. Leadership and vision are born at the bottom and grow up from the grassroots, if at all. Politics, for all its tawdry posturing and phoniness, quid pro quo and hypocrisy, still affects people’s lives in the most pervasive way and is boycotted only at our great peril.

So stay home, watch the wingnuts and sociopaths take control of Congress and you accelerate the corporatization of America; quit now and you concede we are a nation of winners and losers (who must fend for themselves); give up and you invite the church into your bedroom; capitulate and you become part of America’s headlong plunge into darkness, while the rabble are snakecharmed and the privileged steal the rest of the pie.

But there are other alternatives: You can identify and support the candidates who are forces for positive change on the local level, where progress must begin. You can find those who could be enriching themselves in the private sector but choose instead to fight to preserve social safety nets, advance and improve the education system, protect the environment and stand up to the forces of greed and self-interest.

The system is maddeningly imperfect and so are even the best candidates and incumbents. But voter apathy and resignation will only empower those who have built their base on distortion and deception and whose darker agenda will render that apathy a bygone luxury.

Better yet, you can be the change you have come to expect from others. Organize, localize, harmonize with the beings and environment around you. Grow food, share resources, create solutions. Advance evolution. Resist devolution.
By Steve Klinger

You’ve been in a growing malaise for a couple of years now, endocrinologist
watching your retirement account shrink and your home value sink as your nation flounders in gridlocked futility.

Before that, buy more about
you endured eight years of Bush and Cheney that drained the Treasury and the national spirit with an unjust and immoral war in one country and a bungled, cialis 40mg
unending nightmare in another. On the home front, an enormous real estate bubble concealed a putrescent financial foundation fathered by greed and government collusion that undermined the crucial regulatory process.

Maybe you thought you saw a way forward and had come out of political hibernation in 2008 and shared that exhilarating historic moment with much of the world.

But since around Jan. 20, 2009, things have gone steadily downhill as you watched your silly hopes deflated a day at a time by the corporatism exerting its reality all around you.

All the while the great purveyor of hope and lofty campaign rhetoric continued to espouse bipartisan solutions in a shark tank where he is the live bait. You began to wonder about his own sharklike traits. Torture, assassination, extraordinary rendition? What happened to the pledges and promises that inspired you? As more than one blogger has noted, real change turned to chump change.

You see rich white men angry that the world is increasingly not composed of other rich white men to help them hold the unwashed masses at bay while convincing the latter it’s all in their own best interest.

Your see young inner city men and women angry that there are no jobs, no affordable housing, no hope, no money to buy the cheap crap from China, where their jobs have all gone.

You see Tea Partiers and middle-aged Heartlanders angry that their American Dream has been hijacked by what they say is big government but what they mean is minority party-crashers who want to redistribute the wealth. Their wealth. Or maybe their potential wealth.

You note that most other Americans are merely resigned, apathetic, distracted and addicted, eating themselves to death on the couch while the reality shows play out their fantasies and society crumbles around them in quiet microfractures. Who needs a conspiracy when free enterprise does such a wonderful job of empowering the oligarchy by drugging the willfully complicit legions with games, gadgets and high fructose corn syrup?

The dissolution of the Great American Empire rattles along inexorably, all around us, yet we still need to find a way forward because we’re alive and people plus planet are suffering – and Election Day 2010 is nearly upon us.

Maybe this is you: Disillusioned by the millions, voters who punched the ticket for change two years ago talk about staying home this time or even voting Republican in their anger and frustration. Those emotions are not greatly misplaced, given the infuriating spinelessness of the Democratic Congress, the uninspired leadership in the White House and the success of the obstructionist, lockstep Republicans. When things seem hopeless, inspiration is in short supply. Once bitten, twice shy.

But take note of this too: Worthwhile change never comes from the top down, and it never comes smoothly and without great resistance. Leadership and vision are born at the bottom and grow up from the grassroots, if at all. Politics, for all its tawdry posturing and phoniness, quid pro quo and hypocrisy, still affects people’s lives in the most pervasive way and is boycotted only at our great peril.

So stay home, watch the wingnuts and sociopaths take control of Congress and you accelerate the corporatization of America; quit now and you concede we are a nation of winners and losers (who must fend for themselves); give up and you invite the church into your bedroom; capitulate and you become part of America’s headlong plunge into darkness, while the rabble are snakecharmed and the privileged steal the rest of the pie.

But there are other alternatives: You can identify and support the candidates who are forces for positive change on the local level, where progress must begin. You can find those who could be enriching themselves in the private sector but choose instead to fight to preserve social safety nets, advance and improve the education system, protect the environment and stand up to the forces of greed and self-interest.

The system is maddeningly imperfect and so are even the best candidates and incumbents. But voter apathy and resignation will only empower those who have built their base on distortion and deception and whose darker agenda will render that apathy a bygone luxury.

Better yet, you can be the change you have come to expect from others. Organize, localize, harmonize with the beings and environment around you. Grow food, share resources, create solutions. Advance evolution. Resist devolution.

Falling into fall (an outdoorsy perspective)

By Gordon Solberg

For the past couple of years I’ve wanted to revive “Signs of the Seasons, try
” a column I wrote for the Las Cruces Bulletin in 1986-88, angina
but have always gotten sidetracked by more “serious” topics. But obviously, cheapest
whatever’s going to happen will happen whether I write about it or not. So why not write about something I love?

I have lived literally on the bank of the Rio Grande north of Radium Springs since 1973. As a beekeeper, gardener, and orchardist, I spend a lot of time outdoors, and have come to appreciate “life beyond the shopping malls.” I’d like to share some of my observations of our marvelous area with you.

We had a wet but relatively short monsoon this year – 8.57 inches of rain in slightly over two months. We’ve had six wetter monsoons since I started keeping rainfall records in1982, but in most of these the rainfall was spread over a longer period of time. Remarkably, the climate experts (www.climas.arizona.edu) didn’t predict a wet monsoon this year even as it was happening.

I’ve been looking for possible shifts in the Southwest monsoon rainfall due to global heating, but so far the data are all over the place. Since 2004 we’ve had alternate wet/dry monsoons, varying from 3.12 to 13.25 inches. Our two wettest monsoons were 2006 and 2008, with 11.90 and 13.25 inches, respectively. Some readers might remember the notorious 2006 “Monsoon from Hell” which caused disastrous flooding in Alamogordo, El Paso, Hatch and Radium Springs. That year, we had 10 inches of rain in slightly over a month.

There seems to be more of a climate shift regarding the winter snowpack at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Less snow is falling on average, and the springs are getting warmer, earlier. Those warm spring winds cause the snow to evaporate rather than melt, which reduces the runoff. We’ve long taken for granted the elegant simplicity of utilizing mountain snowpack for irrigation purposes. Ideally, the snow accumulates all winter, melts in the spring, and the runoff is collected by dams for summer allocation. However, if the precipitation falls as rain, or doesn’t occur at all, or if the snow evaporates rather than melts, the traditional irrigation model no longer works.

These days, even a very heavy snowpack will provide water for only two years. We no longer have a reserve of stored water; the availability of irrigation water is now on a year-to-year basis, depending on this winter’s snowpack. This is in stark contrast to the ‘80s and ‘90s, when Elephant Butte Lake was so full that it topped the spillway twice. One year there was so much water, they released some excess during the winter. I doubt if we’ll experience such a water glut again. In fact, before long I wouldn’t be surprised to see the snowpack fail completely some years, with a total lack of irrigation water for that year. And it might happen this winter – La Niña winters tend to be very dry. At any rate, most Grassroots Press readers aren’t dependent on irrigation water from the Rio Grande, which is not to say that they aren’t utterly dependent on nature somewhere down the line.

Fall is a remarkable time of year. The days shorten dramatically by mid-August, but temperatures don’t decrease as quickly, due to the enormous amount of heat stored within the top few feet of soil and rock. It’s this extra heat that makes autumn weather so pleasant. August is probably the most miserable month of the year, from my outdoorsy perspective, due to the heat, humidity and mosquitoes. Yet October, a mere two months later, is one of the finest months of the year – crisp cool mornings followed by warm afternoons. And November is even better. La Niña winters tend to be sunny and dry – what I call “Chamber of Commerce weather” –  so I would expect this winter to provide splendid opportunities for all manner of outdoor activities.

Autumn is our most colorful time of year. Peak color most years is early November. In the Las Cruces area, the most concentrated dose of fall colors can be found along Highway 185 as it parallels the Rio Grande between Radium Springs and Hatch. Golden cottonwoods, yellow willows, orange saltcedars and flaming red sumac bushes combine to create a colorful spectacle.

The cotton fields are white until harvest in November, looking like they’ve been struck by a natural fiber blizzard. But not for long, though, because farmers like to get that cotton harvested as quickly as possible, even running their cottonpickers at night if necessary. No sense tempting the weather, after all, because bad weather is always on the way sooner or later.

The chile fields, in their turn, ripen to bright shades of red. Until recent years, harvesting was a leisurely process lasting all winter, and the colorful fields provided a visual zap during a very brown time of the year. But research showed that both the quantity and quality of the chile was reduced by leaving it exposed to the elements like that, so now farmers like to get those peppers picked just as soon as they can.

As happens every year in late autumn, the waterfowl make like snowbirds and return to their winter haunts along the Rio Grande. Although they tend to concentrate in marshy areas like Bosque del Apache south of Socorro, plenty find their way into our area. Sometimes there’s a flock of a couple dozen snowy white egrets that fly in formation up and down the river about a foot above the water. (The air must be less turbulent there, making flying easier.) They make a beautiful sight as they fly, wingtip to wingtip, bodies reflecting in the water.

The sandhill cranes return from their northern summering grounds. Sometimes you can see them flying high above the river in multi-V patterns, necks outstretched, squonking back and forth to each other. Somehow the cranes epitomize autumn… slow but steady, and sure of its direction – winter is still to come, but spring is just around the corner.

(For pretty pictures and essays on a wide variety of topics, Gordon Solberg is still hammering out his blog: http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com .)

Falling into fall (an outdoorsy perspective)

By Gordon Solberg

For the past couple of years I’ve wanted to revive “Signs of the Seasons, diabetes and Pregnancy
” a column I wrote for the Las Cruces Bulletin in 1986-88, geriatrician
but have always gotten sidetracked by more “serious” topics. But obviously, whatever’s going to happen will happen whether I write about it or not. So why not write about something I love?

I have lived literally on the bank of the Rio Grande north of Radium Springs since 1973. As a beekeeper, gardener, and orchardist, I spend a lot of time outdoors, and have come to appreciate “life beyond the shopping malls.” I’d like to share some of my observations of our marvelous area with you.

We had a wet but relatively short monsoon this year – 8.57 inches of rain in slightly over two months. We’ve had six wetter monsoons since I started keeping rainfall records in1982, but in most of these the rainfall was spread over a longer period of time. Remarkably, the climate experts (www.climas.arizona.edu) didn’t predict a wet monsoon this year even as it was happening.

I’ve been looking for possible shifts in the Southwest monsoon rainfall due to global heating, but so far the data are all over the place. Since 2004 we’ve had alternate wet/dry monsoons, varying from 3.12 to 13.25 inches. Our two wettest monsoons were 2006 and 2008, with 11.90 and 13.25 inches, respectively. Some readers might remember the notorious 2006 “Monsoon from Hell” which caused disastrous flooding in Alamogordo, El Paso, Hatch and Radium Springs. That year, we had 10 inches of rain in slightly over a month.

There seems to be more of a climate shift regarding the winter snowpack at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Less snow is falling on average, and the springs are getting warmer, earlier. Those warm spring winds cause the snow to evaporate rather than melt, which reduces the runoff. We’ve long taken for granted the elegant simplicity of utilizing mountain snowpack for irrigation purposes. Ideally, the snow accumulates all winter, melts in the spring, and the runoff is collected by dams for summer allocation. However, if the precipitation falls as rain, or doesn’t occur at all, or if the snow evaporates rather than melts, the traditional irrigation model no longer works.

These days, even a very heavy snowpack will provide water for only two years. We no longer have a reserve of stored water; the availability of irrigation water is now on a year-to-year basis, depending on this winter’s snowpack. This is in stark contrast to the ‘80s and ‘90s, when Elephant Butte Lake was so full that it topped the spillway twice. One year there was so much water, they released some excess during the winter. I doubt if we’ll experience such a water glut again. In fact, before long I wouldn’t be surprised to see the snowpack fail completely some years, with a total lack of irrigation water for that year. And it might happen this winter – La Niña winters tend to be very dry. At any rate, most Grassroots Press readers aren’t dependent on irrigation water from the Rio Grande, which is not to say that they aren’t utterly dependent on nature somewhere down the line.

Fall is a remarkable time of year. The days shorten dramatically by mid-August, but temperatures don’t decrease as quickly, due to the enormous amount of heat stored within the top few feet of soil and rock. It’s this extra heat that makes autumn weather so pleasant. August is probably the most miserable month of the year, from my outdoorsy perspective, due to the heat, humidity and mosquitoes. Yet October, a mere two months later, is one of the finest months of the year – crisp cool mornings followed by warm afternoons. And November is even better. La Niña winters tend to be sunny and dry – what I call “Chamber of Commerce weather” –  so I would expect this winter to provide splendid opportunities for all manner of outdoor activities.

Autumn is our most colorful time of year. Peak color most years is early November. In the Las Cruces area, the most concentrated dose of fall colors can be found along Highway 185 as it parallels the Rio Grande between Radium Springs and Hatch. Golden cottonwoods, yellow willows, orange saltcedars and flaming red sumac bushes combine to create a colorful spectacle.

The cotton fields are white until harvest in November, looking like they’ve been struck by a natural fiber blizzard. But not for long, though, because farmers like to get that cotton harvested as quickly as possible, even running their cottonpickers at night if necessary. No sense tempting the weather, after all, because bad weather is always on the way sooner or later.

The chile fields, in their turn, ripen to bright shades of red. Until recent years, harvesting was a leisurely process lasting all winter, and the colorful fields provided a visual zap during a very brown time of the year. But research showed that both the quantity and quality of the chile was reduced by leaving it exposed to the elements like that, so now farmers like to get those peppers picked just as soon as they can.

As happens every year in late autumn, the waterfowl make like snowbirds and return to their winter haunts along the Rio Grande. Although they tend to concentrate in marshy areas like Bosque del Apache south of Socorro, plenty find their way into our area. Sometimes there’s a flock of a couple dozen snowy white egrets that fly in formation up and down the river about a foot above the water. (The air must be less turbulent there, making flying easier.) They make a beautiful sight as they fly, wingtip to wingtip, bodies reflecting in the water.

The sandhill cranes return from their northern summering grounds. Sometimes you can see them flying high above the river in multi-V patterns, necks outstretched, squonking back and forth to each other. Somehow the cranes epitomize autumn… slow but steady, and sure of its direction – winter is still to come, but spring is just around the corner.

(For pretty pictures and essays on a wide variety of topics, Gordon Solberg is still hammering out his blog: http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com .)

Falling into fall (an outdoorsy perspective)

By Gordon Solberg

For the past couple of years I’ve wanted to revive “Signs of the Seasons, look
” a column I wrote for the Las Cruces Bulletin in 1986-88, drugs
but have always gotten sidetracked by more “serious” topics. But obviously, diet
whatever’s going to happen will happen whether I write about it or not. So why not write about something I love?

I have lived literally on the bank of the Rio Grande north of Radium Springs since 1973. As a beekeeper, gardener, and orchardist, I spend a lot of time outdoors, and have come to appreciate “life beyond the shopping malls.” I’d like to share some of my observations of our marvelous area with you.

We had a wet but relatively short monsoon this year – 8.57 inches of rain in slightly over two months. We’ve had six wetter monsoons since I started keeping rainfall records in1982, but in most of these the rainfall was spread over a longer period of time. Remarkably, the climate experts (www.climas.arizona.edu) didn’t predict a wet monsoon this year even as it was happening.

I’ve been looking for possible shifts in the Southwest monsoon rainfall due to global heating, but so far the data are all over the place. Since 2004 we’ve had alternate wet/dry monsoons, varying from 3.12 to 13.25 inches. Our two wettest monsoons were 2006 and 2008, with 11.90 and 13.25 inches, respectively. Some readers might remember the notorious 2006 “Monsoon from Hell” which caused disastrous flooding in Alamogordo, El Paso, Hatch and Radium Springs. That year, we had 10 inches of rain in slightly over a month.

There seems to be more of a climate shift regarding the winter snowpack at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Less snow is falling on average, and the springs are getting warmer, earlier. Those warm spring winds cause the snow to evaporate rather than melt, which reduces the runoff. We’ve long taken for granted the elegant simplicity of utilizing mountain snowpack for irrigation purposes. Ideally, the snow accumulates all winter, melts in the spring, and the runoff is collected by dams for summer allocation. However, if the precipitation falls as rain, or doesn’t occur at all, or if the snow evaporates rather than melts, the traditional irrigation model no longer works.

These days, even a very heavy snowpack will provide water for only two years. We no longer have a reserve of stored water; the availability of irrigation water is now on a year-to-year basis, depending on this winter’s snowpack. This is in stark contrast to the ‘80s and ‘90s, when Elephant Butte Lake was so full that it topped the spillway twice. One year there was so much water, they released some excess during the winter. I doubt if we’ll experience such a water glut again. In fact, before long I wouldn’t be surprised to see the snowpack fail completely some years, with a total lack of irrigation water for that year. And it might happen this winter – La Niña winters tend to be very dry. At any rate, most Grassroots Press readers aren’t dependent on irrigation water from the Rio Grande, which is not to say that they aren’t utterly dependent on nature somewhere down the line.

Fall is a remarkable time of year. The days shorten dramatically by mid-August, but temperatures don’t decrease as quickly, due to the enormous amount of heat stored within the top few feet of soil and rock. It’s this extra heat that makes autumn weather so pleasant. August is probably the most miserable month of the year, from my outdoorsy perspective, due to the heat, humidity and mosquitoes. Yet October, a mere two months later, is one of the finest months of the year – crisp cool mornings followed by warm afternoons. And November is even better. La Niña winters tend to be sunny and dry – what I call “Chamber of Commerce weather” –  so I would expect this winter to provide splendid opportunities for all manner of outdoor activities.

Autumn is our most colorful time of year. Peak color most years is early November. In the Las Cruces area, the most concentrated dose of fall colors can be found along Highway 185 as it parallels the Rio Grande between Radium Springs and Hatch. Golden cottonwoods, yellow willows, orange saltcedars and flaming red sumac bushes combine to create a colorful spectacle.

The cotton fields are white until harvest in November, looking like they’ve been struck by a natural fiber blizzard. But not for long, though, because farmers like to get that cotton harvested as quickly as possible, even running their cottonpickers at night if necessary. No sense tempting the weather, after all, because bad weather is always on the way sooner or later.

The chile fields, in their turn, ripen to bright shades of red. Until recent years, harvesting was a leisurely process lasting all winter, and the colorful fields provided a visual zap during a very brown time of the year. But research showed that both the quantity and quality of the chile was reduced by leaving it exposed to the elements like that, so now farmers like to get those peppers picked just as soon as they can.

As happens every year in late autumn, the waterfowl make like snowbirds and return to their winter haunts along the Rio Grande. Although they tend to concentrate in marshy areas like Bosque del Apache south of Socorro, plenty find their way into our area. Sometimes there’s a flock of a couple dozen snowy white egrets that fly in formation up and down the river about a foot above the water. (The air must be less turbulent there, making flying easier.) They make a beautiful sight as they fly, wingtip to wingtip, bodies reflecting in the water.

The sandhill cranes return from their northern summering grounds. Sometimes you can see them flying high above the river in multi-V patterns, necks outstretched, squonking back and forth to each other. Somehow the cranes epitomize autumn… slow but steady, and sure of its direction – winter is still to come, but spring is just around the corner.

(For pretty pictures and essays on a wide variety of topics, Gordon Solberg is still hammering out his blog: http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com .)
In Defense of Public Education:
7  October 2010 – Thursday Noon thru 9 pm
CORBETT and MILTON HALL
As part of AAUP’s Week of Action to Fight for Higher Education as a Public Good – NMSU-AAUP has a day of Speakers and Workshops to highlight our Membership Drive here on the NMSU and DACC campuses.  Mark your calendar, mind
invite others – Faculty, shop
Students and all interested in the future of Higher Education Welcome !

12 NOON – 1:00: Mayra Besosa, pill
AAUP CBC Executive Committee Corbett – Colfax Room
Sharing the responsibility: Bridging the Gap between Tenure and non-Tenure Track faculty.  – The increased reliance of academic administrations on non-tenure track teachers has implications for tenure-track and contingent faculty alike.
Mayra Teaches Spanish on a full-time contingent faculty appointment at Cal State San Marcos, and is California Faculty Association chapter faculty rights representative with senate experience; co-chair of the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession; and member-at-large of the AAUP CBC Executive Committee.

1:15 – 2:30 Campus Café. Conversations on defending higher education
Modeled on World Café, AAUP national staff and members of the local steering committee will facilitate informal small group discussions with members of the NMSU community over coffee and food in Corbett (Colfax Room).  Join us!

5:30 PM: Marty West, Professor of Law Emerita – former AAUP general Counsel – Milton Hall – La Academia Rm 185
Campus life and family balance in a time of economic uncertainty
Professor Martha West retired from full-time teaching in 2007; was General Counsel for the American Association of University Professors, 2008 – 2010; Associate Dean of UC Davis School of Law, 1988-1992; th with J. Curtis, wrote the AAUP FACULTY GENDER EQUITY INDICATORS 2006. She chaired the subcommittee that drafted the Statement of Principles on Family Responsibilities and Academic Work, which was adopted as AAUP policy in 2001. West has also served as a member of the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure (2002–05) and as chair of the Legal Defense Fund (1998–2002).

7:00 PM: N’se Ufot, AAUP Government Relations – Milton Hall – Rm 169 Taking action to defend public higher education:  Local, state, and national issues
N’se, former Labor Organizer, now organizes Government Relations at the State and National level for AAUP. N’se will wrap up the Day’s Actions and discuss the future of AAUP and American universities.

8:00 Wrap-up Milton Hall Rm 169.  Where do we go from here?  Summaries of discussions
In Defense of Public Education:
7  October 2010 – Thursday Noon thru 9 pm
CORBETT and MILTON HALL
As part of AAUP’s Week of Action to Fight for Higher Education as a Public Good – NMSU-AAUP has a day of Speakers and Workshops to highlight our Membership Drive here on the NMSU and DACC campuses.  Mark your calendar, check
invite others – Faculty, viagra dosage
Students and all interested in the future of Higher Education Welcome !

12 NOON – 1:00: Mayra Besosa, AAUP CBC Executive Committee Corbett – Colfax Room
Sharing the responsibility: Bridging the Gap between Tenure and non-Tenure Track faculty.  – The increased reliance of academic administrations on non-tenure track teachers has implications for tenure-track and contingent faculty alike.
Mayra Teaches Spanish on a full-time contingent faculty appointment at Cal State San Marcos, and is California Faculty Association chapter faculty rights representative with senate experience; co-chair of the AAUP Committee on Contingency and the Profession; and member-at-large of the AAUP CBC Executive Committee.

1:15 – 2:30 Campus Café. Conversations on defending higher education
Modeled on World Café, AAUP national staff and members of the local steering committee will facilitate informal small group discussions with members of the NMSU community over coffee and food in Corbett (Colfax Room).  Join us!

5:30 PM: Marty West, Professor of Law Emerita – former AAUP general Counsel – Milton Hall – La Academia Rm 185
Campus life and family balance in a time of economic uncertainty
Professor Martha West retired from full-time teaching in 2007; was General Counsel for the American Association of University Professors, 2008 – 2010; Associate Dean of UC Davis School of Law, 1988-1992; th with J. Curtis, wrote the AAUP FACULTY GENDER EQUITY INDICATORS 2006. She chaired the subcommittee that drafted the Statement of Principles on Family Responsibilities and Academic Work, which was adopted as AAUP policy in 2001. West has also served as a member of the Association’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure (2002–05) and as chair of the Legal Defense Fund (1998–2002).

7:00 PM: N’se Ufot, AAUP Government Relations – Milton Hall – Rm 169 Taking action to defend public higher education:  Local, state, and national issues
N’se, former Labor Organizer, now organizes Government Relations at the State and National level for AAUP. N’se will wrap up the Day’s Actions and discuss the future of AAUP and American universities.

8:00 Wrap-up Milton Hall Rm 169.  Where do we go from here?  Summaries of discussions

AFTER: Workers at the Animals Services Center of the Mesilla Valley apply new paint and replace flooring in a doublewide trailer used to house sick animals.

Updated Oct. 4: There are some corrections/clarifications to the original article and the print version. Frank Bryce, purchase
president and founder of the Southern New Mexico Humane Society, Sildenafil
has never operated the animal shelter. For a long time, the Dona Ana County Humane Society did run the shelter; the two humane societies are different entities. Also, Grassroots Press is seeking clarification from ASCMV as to the number of cats who lose their lives at the shelter due to upper respiratory infections and/or lack of socialization. Michel Meunier, who is quoted in the article, said her quote should have stated that 100 cats per month lose their lives for lack of socialization.


After this article was written, the board that runs the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley decided in a special meeting Sept. 17 to fund repairs up to $120,000, overhauling a heating, cooling and ventilation system at the shelter’s North Main Street facility. The move was in response to longstanding complaints that the current system recirculates contaminated air, spreading infection. Animal activists so far have been unanimous in applauding the decision, and some have called it a promising departure from the feuding and contention that have surrounded the shelter and its operation for years. Editor

By Jeff Berg

In a report offered by the Humane Society of the United States in October of 2009, an estimated 6-8 million dogs and cats were cared for in United States animal shelters annually in recent years. Of those, about half, 3-4 million were euthanized.

The same report notes that in the 1970s, the number of animals ‘put down,’ a polite way of saying ‘killed because of human stupidity,’ was 12-20 million, while there were an estimated 67 million pets in U.S. households. That number (household pets) has increased dramatically, to a current estimated figure of 135 million, so the proportion, as well as the total number for euthanized animals, has dropped markedly as well.

In Las Cruces, controversy aplenty has swirled around the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV), which operates out of an antiquated and far too small facility in the northeast corner of town.  A visit to the shelter at any time will offer you a cacophony of animal sounds. Barking, growling, yipping, meowing, hissing; you name it, you’ll hear it. The dog compound is always quite noisy and always overcrowded.

So, just what is wrong with the people in this area who have ‘pets’? Why are there so many animal hoarders? Why do illegal dogfights take place? Why can I (probably) still take you to a place on the county line where 10-plus dogs are staked out on short chains, just itching to get at one another to rip the others’ throats out?

“Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune,” Nicholas Ling once said. And that maxim fits as one of the biggest reasons that Doña Ana County remains a place where animal cruelty and abuse continue to be widespread and common.

To bring you somewhat up to date on the happenings at the animal shelter, here are three different views of what is going on and what needs to happen to help create a better living environment for the animals

“The building is too small and outdated for the animals that are coming in,” says Michel Meunier, the founder of ACTion Programs for Animals, and a strong advocate for a no-kill shelter, when speaking of the building that houses the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley.

“They’ve known that since 2006, and it hasn’t been taken care of.”

Meunier insists that she is not an enemy of the shelter, but rather she is someone who is versed in the care and attention needed for shelters and their residents.  “I come from a progressive point of view,” she said, “and I am sending a message to our (local) leaders that they don’t seem to be responding to.”

She says that according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the ASCMV is not following the best practices for animal shelters.

“They need to have assessments for intake, enrichment programs, more space, more exercise for the animals. They also need to have socializing and enrichment for the cats. The shelter is an unfair place for cats, and over 100 have died from being in that stressful environment.”

“Why can’t we (ASCMV) follow the standards that are available, such as vaccinating animals during intake?”

Meunier is also concerned about the fact that the shelter, since it was taken over by local government entities, now has a bigger budget, 40 employees, and has still stayed on the same course.

“All we are asking for is for them to use the best practices available within the facility.”

In early September, I went out to the shelter on a breezy, slightly less hotter-than-hell day to see how things looked as a layman. I had last been there perhaps a month earlier.

During that first visit, I found the shelter to be as it always was: crowded, noisy, and with only a few guests checking out the available animals. Staffers were humorless but efficient, and I found it odd that I was accompanied by one (from a distance) during the visit.  The area where the adoptable animals are kept was tidy, and staffers were prompt in cleaning the pens. A water mister was running to help cool the larger canines that were held in the bigger outside cages, which were once designed as exercise areas but now converted to holding cages because of the never-ending population problem.

The second visit was nearly the same as the first – but the big difference was that the place was full to the rafters but very quiet. It was a pleasant day and the dogs, who usually bark, growl, cry, and whine up a storm, were very docile, for the most part. Few were jumping up in the air as they tend to do, possibly since the pens are so small, and two dogs were in each, and the attendant again accompanied us, albeit from afar, hosing down cages that had fresh dog droppings.

But that is what the public sees.

Behind the scenes, especially recently, a spate of issues has emerged concerning the poor sanitation and ventilation systems within the shelter.  A doublewide trailer that was being used to house dogs with infectious diseases such as Parvovirus, a viral disease that attacks a dog’s digestive system, (some accuse the shelter of being the only place in the county where a dog could get Parvovirus) was shown to be dirty and unsafe.  A visit from the ASPCA to the shelter in July of this year resulted in the organization suggesting that the facility be closed entirely for 60 days because of the sanitation issues, which include the poor ventilation system that can carry germs to other areas of the shelter.

“Even contractors noted the ventilation deficiencies,” says Frank Bryce, president of the Humane Society of Southern New Mexico, which used to operate the shelter. Bryce, a retired government employee, now runs the Doggie Dude Ranch, a tidy and small pet operation that houses animals for a variety of reasons – from doggie daycare to so-called ‘problem’ animals. Bryce tells me of some of his experiences while a volunteer at the shelter, including viewing duct work inside the air vents that has been installed improperly, which in an odd way was one of the reasons that he was asked to stop volunteering by shelter management after pointing out this problem and other issues.

Bryce brings up the recent ASPCA inspection, along with a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that was sent to Mayor Ken Miyagishima in June of this year, noting grimy conditions, overcrowding, and deriding the ASCMV Strategic Plan Phase 1, which says in part that the “Population Management: Reduce Intake” and “Additional Funding” sections would discourage the public from relinquishing animals to ASCMV by charging fees and would also require pet guardians seeking humane euthanasia for their animal companions to pay for the service, among other things.

Bryce supports the ASPCA’s proposal that the shelter be closed for 60 days, something which city, county, and shelter officials nixed immediately.

But Bryce, unlike most people around here, has cobbled together a solution that could temporarily house the animals in other facilities, noting that the ASPCA itself would take 500 animals, which would help to allow for retraining the director and staff, and supervise the needed resealing of the shelter walls.

“They could use substations,” he offers. “They have 40 employees that could run the substations. Jess Williams (board member of ASCMV) claims that they have 300 volunteers. They could be put to work as well.” (Bryce is not afraid to scoff at the volunteer figure and suggests that it carries an extra zero). “Someone else has even been able to find a large tent that could be utilized,” he adds, and then he drops the biggest and best part of the temporary closure of all –noting that the county fairgrounds have facilities that could be utilized easily and that that idea has already been tentatively agreed to by fairgrounds staff.

“This shelter qualifies as an animal hoarder,” he says firmly but without malice. “There is no licensed vet, and the last one said that her time there was the worst eight months of her life.” Bryce also notes that the shelter lacked a facility license for many years.

“The biggest problem is that the city and county are not putting basic standards of animal care into place. They are not qualified to run a shelter.  The ‘cancer’ for the animal shelter is the lack of maintenance (one maintenance person for the entire site), leadership and modern thinking on how to run a shelter. They don’t need to destroy the building; they could bring it up to speed.”

He even offers a new design for the 15 acres that are allotted for the shelter, which currently occupies 3.5 of those acres. He expresses puzzlement why they don’t do something with the rest of that land, observing, “They need to start thinking outside the box.”

Bryce himself seems to be a possible solution to one of the perceived problems…lack of quality management.

Would he take the job?

Without hesitation, he answers, “No.”

As the hot summer weather threatens to drag on into the early days of winter, I visit the shelter again for an appointment with Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, the director of the shelter.

“There are too many animals in Doña Ana County,” Vesco-Mock says; as we sit in her office that houses four young dogs and pups who certainly prove her point.  The animals are all being treated for sickness, mostly respiratory ailments. Vesco-Mock (or “Dr. Beth” as she has come to be known) says that two probably won’t make it, but the other two, who bound out of their cages when she opens the doors, are doing well and will hopefully be adopted when they are better.

She relates how just the night before, a Sunday, two cocker spaniels were surrendered because the owners were moving and couldn’t take the animals with them. She questions such logic…why move someplace that won’t take your pets. She hints that this is a cop-out for animal surrender, another huge problem in the area.  She says she had also been called to the shelter at 10 p.m. to help with an ill-cared-for Great Pyrenees who had to be put down…again another “surrender.”

She offers up some figures…in the first seven months of 2010, shelter staff had to put down 5,175 animals. In 2009, the shelter took in a staggering 15,061 animals, all from a county of an estimated 200,000 people.  A recent story about the El Paso animal shelter noted that in 2009, 25,472 animals were picked up, and of those only about 6,500 made it out alive.  2008 Census figures show 742,000 residents in El Paso County.( More than three times the human population in El Paso County, but “only” 10,000 more animals picked up.)

“I came here in May of 2008 from Georgia, and our intake in DeKalb County [where she was shelter director] was 700 a month for a population of 700, 000,” Vesco-Mock says.

She points out that in June of this year 1,463 four-leggeds were brought into the shelter, and 1,425 in July. May was a very bad month, but that was because a huge number of “pet” rats were found at a home, 240 or so. Few met happy endings, but none were killed by shelter staff, she said.

Dr. Beth addresses the issues that have faced the shelter and continue to be hot buttons.  She points out that progress, although slow, is being made in deep cleaning, remodeling, and painting. The notorious doublewide trailer that was used for sick animals and that was in poor sanitary condition is empty now, she says, and it will be getting all new floors and paint, among other improvements.

The kill rate is down about 10 percent from the previous year, according to Vesco-Mock, in spite of the fact that the intake is not going down. She adds that she is working to develop some grassroots programs she hopes will help reduce the kill rate further.

When asked about the ASPCA letter that advised closing the shelter temporarily for a complete overhaul, she admits that she was disappointed in the outcome of that dialogue, as she was hoping the group would help with suggesting community outreach programs that could be developed.

But the conversation always circles back to the one thing that Vesco-Mock feels is the most apparent and ongoing problem: the number of irresponsible pet owners in the county.

“I’m hoping that adult peer pressure will become something useful,” she offers.

Say you’re at dinner with friends, one of whom mentions a pregnant pet or one that has just had a litter. Ideally, Vesco-Mock says she hopes people who realize that animals procreate out of an instinctive drive to sustain their species, will start talking to their friends and families about the problems unwanted litters of puppies and kittens create.  Sort of like an ad hoc volunteer program. It’s dreamy, for certain, but she feels that it could be effective.

Dr. Beth says she does classroom visits each week, and is working to get a program started in the colonias south of Las Cruces.

The shelter director stresses that she takes the issues of budget and staffing seriously as well. She offers that the shelter indeed has a $2 million budget, (averaging $112 spent per animal) but that part of that is from the money that the shelter takes in. A full-time vet is a possibility soon; currently, others on contracts come in several days a week.  There was no vet or vet tech on staff when Vesco-Mock arrived.

A staff of 40 may not be enough, she feels, since the shelter operates 24/7/365. She says most staff work four 10-hour days.

She offers a walkthrough of the entire facility, which, as noted by all, is in need of upgrades, repairs and modernization.  Some repairs are taking place now, such as acoustic boards to help keep the noise level down and the addition of new cleaning equipment and a revamped storage room.

The shelter is completely full, and each dog cage has two residents per cage, except for smaller dogs, where sometimes as many as five share quarters. It is early morning and several employees are working to clean the kennels among the earsplitting barking of the canines within.

The cat area is much calmer and tidier, but the naturally fastidious cats certainly play a part in that as well, and Vesco-Mock notes that many of them will find homes. It is the number of dogs that remains the biggest problem.

“Too many brown Chihuahuas,” she notes as we walk through the holding facility, which is indeed home to an awful lot of the little yappers, all of whom are barking at once.  During the walkthrough for the kennels that hold larger dogs, she notes that most pit bulls are put down, although there are several mixed pits in the kennels and a couple that look like they are purebred.

In our visit, Vesco-Mock was not afraid to address the issues that challenge the shelter and appears not only aware of them but ready to offer ideas that could provide solutions.

Is she going to keep working here?

“Many days I want to leave,” she says after a pause. “But you just can’t get up and leave. I have to make a lot of decisions that no one knows about.”

“I have news of what I think may be a really good turn of events,” Frank Bryce said to me in a recent e-mail.

ASCMV board members (County Commissioner Scott)  Krahling, (City Councilor Miguel) Silva and Jess Williams “all appear to be ready for the ASPCA to come in here and do their thing – no longer is the ASPCA plan unreasonable or undoable but admittedly necessary,” he wrote.   “They have formed a rather unlikely ‘fast action team’ of Bob Hearn, Krahling, Silva, Shelter Director Vesco-Mock and myself to get the ASPCA assistance moving.  This amounts to tacit acknowledgement that the shelter really does have the problems that have been identified and we need help to solve them.”

His note continues, “It is also tacit acknowledgement that the director is failing to do the job they have been led to believe was being done.” (Bryce does not say whether others on the board or the team share his views about the director.)  “Also the HVAC report is available now and it is really quite good as far as I can see.  The glaring statements in my opinion are they observed that the facility was not being cleaned adequately.  This is not something they should have even had to say in this type of report if it was being done right.  The sad part is much of the information in this report was pretty much known from several previous reports and still cost $22,000 to be done.  The cost of repair and bringing up to working condition was originally estimated at over $400,000 and now is at $106,000.  The second damning observation is that poor maintenance by the city is probably the major fault for the condition the system is in currently.”

Several summers ago, I had the distinct privilege of riding for a day with Animal Control Officer Paul Richardson, who is now the kennel supervisor at the shelter. His assignment for that day was in the southern part of the county, La Mesa, and points south, ending in Anthony. In less than four hours, we had an overloaded truck of animals, mostly dogs, that had been loose, given up, taken for not having tags or licensing and whatever else the animals need. We missed many more.

We went back to the shelter, where most of the animals were killed by staff members, as humanely as possible. I watched the process. I’ve seen animals die before, although I don’t eat them or use them to hold up my pants or hold my money when I have some. I don’t stuff my feet into dead animal parts, and if it weren’t for my cheese fancy, I would have no use for animal by-products as well.

But those images have always stuck in my head. They remain there to this day, especially a litter of puppies given up by an ignorant irresponsible person who had dogs chained in the yard, and the puppies with their chained mother, living under a camper shell in their own droppings.

I took some pictures. I keep those pictures on my desk. I’m looking at them now. My eyes still moisten, as I remember being the only creature with any sort of emotion- other than the shelter attendant who did the job quickly and as gently as possible– witnessing when those puppies were killed.  No other person on the planet will know those puppies. No one else ever held them in their arms and scratched their tiny heads just moments before they were killed. No one else thinks about it that even the dust of their remains is long gone from the city landfill where their once warm, wiggly tiny bodies were later taken.

With that in mind, I conclude this article thusly.

Change finally seems to be on the horizon, and will certainly work better if personality conflicts are set aside and everyone does what is necessary to ensure that the animals have food, water, and clean shelter in which to live before most of them have to be put down.  It offers a modicum of hope to see what is happening, among those who have the most time and emotion invested in this problem.

But the real problem won’t cease. It won’t cease now, it won’t cease tomorrow. It has existed for years in communities all over the world.  As in everything, education is the key, but you have to have a willing audience, and I don’t think that exists in Doña Ana County.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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