Animal rescues

Animal Abuse Rescues Improve With Agency Coordination

The New Mexico State Attorney and the Humane Society of the United States are

rescuing dozens of dogs and more than 10 puppies from a suspected cruelty situation in San Miguel County, New Mexico. The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office also provides on-site assistance.

Local authorities served a search and seizure warrant on a residential property around 8 a.m. on March 14. The dogs were found living outside in crowded and dirty enclosures, some with no apparent access to food or water. Rescuers worked cautiously in freezing weather to avoid slipping on ice and other hazards such as broken glass, wires and other debris found in areas where the dogs lived.

The dogs were unaffected and apparently allowed to breed freely – vets noted that several dogs are pregnant. A puppy was found dead in one of the enclosures as an adult dog, possibly the mother, paced and whined nearby. Some of the dogs hid behind pieces of plywood and in various makeshift structures, while others appeared curious and approached rescuers.

As someone who works in an animal shelter, I certainly feel like stories like these are on the rise. But, like many statistics in our industry, you need to dig deeper into the data to really understand what’s going on. Locally, we had one of our most serious animal cruelty investigations that culminated in September 2021. At the time, 46 animals were seized and 100 prescription drugs were taken along with $20,000 in cash from a Flagler County animal rescue group.

And last month we took in 5 dogs from a hoarding situation in Santa Rosa County. In both of these cases, well-meaning relief groups wanting to do as much good as possible were quickly overwhelmed and did not know how to seek relief from the circumstances they had created. Just as we saw the number of animals in shelters decrease significantly between 2013 and 2018, we had to admit and point out that our years of low-cost neutering and neutering and humane education were paying off.

But as I asked before, are there more animals being abused today or is there something else we may not see? And while I haven’t taken the time to really look at the numbers today, I’d say the answer is no. It is not the number of abused animals that has increased, but animal cruelty investigations and officers have improved. Additionally, animal cruelty agencies are increasingly working together and recognizing that collaboration may end up being a necessary factor that can determine our success or failure.

Jeffery Ritter is Director of Development at Flagler Humane Society and can be reached at [email protected] Flagler Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1980. For more information, visit