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A Little Help for a Lot of Territory

In one New Mexico county, animal control volunteers help the pros provide better service

In one New Mexico county, animal control volunteers help the pros provide better service

 

ACR and herpetologist Frank Bryce served as one of the trainers during the class for new volunteers. He explained how to identify snakes and catch them safely, using this prairie rattlesnake as an example of a poisonous snake. CHERYL A. FALLSTEAD

Faced with handling almost 14,000 calls a year in a territory that covers more than 3,800 square miles, the Doña Ana County Animal Control Department in New Mexico is trying something new: using animal control volunteers for tasks that don’t require specialized training, thereby freeing up the department’s eight full-time officers for more demanding duties. Two classes of animal control reservists (ACRs) are already trained and on the job, backing up their professional colleagues on tasks ranging from public education efforts to creating specifications for the county’s new disaster relief vehicle.

One of the southernmost counties in the state, Doña Ana County is home to New Mexico’s second-largest city, Las Cruces, which has its own animal control department. But surrounding the city is an enormous desert county, spotted with small communities and rural homes where some people don’t know about animal control regulations—or believe the laws and codes don’t apply to them, says animal control and codes director Curtis Childress.

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