Sandoval Community Animal Services Department is working to help care for the county’s homeless pets.

Animal Services, a division of Sandoval County Community Services, is a department of three employees that cares for and tries to find homes for pets in need.

“We’re basically the first point of contact when the animal control officers bring animals that are stray had been abandoned from hoarding situations, things of that nature, and they come into us,” Animal Care Associate Kimberly Jaramillo said. “When the animals come into us, it’s our responsibility to care for them, rehabilitate them. We provide veterinary care. We don’t have vet staff here. But whatever vet care is needed, we have contracts with  local vets so all animals that come into our care will receive vaccinations, microchips, spay and neuter and all heartworm tests. Our goal then once they’re here, is to identify either rescues, adoptive homes or foster homes for the animals in our care. And that’s how we filter them out and get them placed into the community. We have a very active adoption program. We go into the community at least once a week, mostly Saturdays. We’re out in the community a lot promoting the animals in hopes that they will get into that forever home or they at least a foster situation until we can get them a home.”

As of last week, the county had 50 animals in either its kennels or foster care. Jaramillo said there is a continuous rotating population.

“But that’s why it is so critical for us to be able to get these animals into other situations,” Jaramillo said. “Because on a day-to-day basis, we don’t know who’s going to be coming in.”

Community Services Director Jayme Espinoza said that Animal Services only has 19 kennels, so it is constantly looking for foster homes and adoptions for the pets.

“We are always, always always juggling,” Espinoza said. “These girls work day and night to try to find homes.”

Jaramillo said it’s not getting any easier to juggle the situation as numbers have quadrupled in a year of intakes on a month-by-month basis.

“We’re seeing, like, a quadrupling of numbers and other counties are as well,” Jaramillo said. “I think, my personal thought on it is OK, we had COVID. People took a lot of animals in, animals were born. People weren’t doing as much so a lot of spay and neutering wasn’t happening. Now we’re post-COVID. People may be not able to care for their animals anymore. Also, the cost of food some people tell us is a factor. We do have resources and information for people who are in need of animal food, domestic animal food, dogs, cats, and we are happy to help them so they can keep their animals.”

The Community Services Department is always seeking volunteers and donations to help care for the  county’s homeless pets. Its Animal Ambassador Program provides people the opportunity to help homeless pets through foster, adoption or other volunteer opportunities. If you’re not able to foster or otherwise volunteer but still wish to help, you may drop a check or money order off with the County’s Finance Department made payable to Sandoval County Animal Services with “Medical Fund” in the note.

Dogs impounded by Sandoval County are initially taken to a climate-controlled kennel facility located on the Administrative Campus at 1500 Idalia Road in Bernalillo, while cats are placed in feline-specific safe environments. Most pets impounded by Sandoval County are either returned to owner or Animal Services uses PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet to post animals ready for adoption.

There is an adoption fee of $120, but all adopted animals are spayed or neutered, have age-appropriate vaccinations and microchips. Animal Services does home visits or meet-and-greets prior to placement to determine that the new home is a good, safe environment. The animal then goes  into the trial adoption home for a 30-day period.

Sandoval County Animal Services began a partnership with Loretto Veterinary Clinic in Bernalillo this year to provide shots for dogs and cats.

The next vaccination clinic will be 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 14  at 370 Rotary Park Road in Bernalillo. The clinic will offer the following vaccinations: K9 DA2PP: $25; puppy DA2PP with coronavirus: $30; feline FVRCP: $20; one-year rabies: $15; three-year rabies: $28 (with proof of one-year given previously); microchips: $25.