LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Dona Ana County is taking a big step in curbing the feral cat population after the Board of County Commissioners approved an ordinance Tuesday morning that will help with trap, neuter and release programs.
The cat population has been a problem for years with the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley reporting more than 32,000 cats caught since may of 2008 and about 70 percent of those euthanized.
"We're going to have less kittens come in and we're going to have less cats period coming into the shelter," said Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, director at the shelter.
She said most of the cats are too timid for adoption and cannot be rehabilitated.
While the shelter director said it will take years to see the effects fully materialize the impact will be positive.
"In most communities that this is very active, they have dropped the euthanasia by 75 percent," Vesco-Mock said.
The cats caught in the county as a part of the trap, neuter and release program must be sterilized and verified by a licensed vet.
The ordinance also requires cats to be microchipped and vaccinated for rabies.
The changes will still allow for animal control to pursue cases of animal cruelty.