Benefits of Having a Pet
As the new year commences, are you looking to relieve depression and anxiety, lower stress levels, and improve your overall health and happiness? Thinking back to January 2010, I can recall taking a trip to the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley (ASCMV) in search of a furry friend to accompany me on my journey through life. During the visit, I was drawn to a border collie/shepherd puppy that was left via owner surrender along with her siblings. I had an immediate connection with the one female of the litter due to her strong and independent nature, so I decided to spend quality time with her in ASCMV’s outdoor facility to ensure the feeling was mutual. Once I was convinced we were a match, I filled out the application to provide her a “forever home” and dubbed her Dallas. Since then, she has brought an indescribable amount of joy, unconditional love, and acceptance to my life, and ultimately, I adore having a best friend who always eagerly awaits my arrival home.
How to Save a Life
All local adoption facilities are following similar procedures due to COVID-19 restrictions. One can visit their respective websites to explore animal options, including pictures and information such as breed, sex, age, and weight of the animal. When you find yourself ignited with intrigue, you can fill out the general application online and proceed to contact the center to view the animal in person prior to making any final decisions. There are many adoption centers to explore in our area, such as the ASCMV where my success story was written; ACTion Program for Animals, which recently moved to a new home at 537 N. Solano Drive; Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, which is worth the quick drive up the highway; and the Cat’s Meow, which is Las Cruces’ first permanent, feline-only adoption center. Each of these facilities shares a common goal in working to find displaced animals a home. Most commonly, folks opt to adopt a dog or cat. However, if you are feeling adventurous, ASCMV also offers rabbits, small and large mammals, birds, horses, barnyard animals, and other exotic animals when they are in need of new homes.
There are two main costs to consider when thinking about adoption. First are the initial adoption fees and supplies, then the general cost over the course of the animal’s lifetime, including food and grooming as well as medical care. Most facilities offer a one-time adoption fee that covers all of the animal’s medical care up until the point of adoption, plus licensing, microchipping, and spay or neuter. Based on my experience, new pet owners should expect start-up costs to be around $150 depending on the health of the animal. Your expenses after that will vary widely, but be sure to consider vet and food bills, training, pet beds and toys, boarding or pet sitting while you’re on vacation, and other items.
Adopting an animal is a lifelong commitment and thus there are several factors aside from financial expectations to consider before making the leap. For instance, the amount of time and effort it may take to fully integrate an animal into your family must also be considered. The size of the animal, exercise requirements, personality, and compatibility with others, including children in the home, should all figure into your ultimate decision.
“It is important to make sure the person matches the animal,” says Executive Director of ACTion Program for Animals, Michel Meunier. For instance, if you live in a small space with low retaining walls, “adopting a dog that is an escape artist may not be the best choice,” says Michel. Conversely, if your family maintains an active lifestyle, a golden retriever may be the perfect match.
I asked Cloud K-9 Dog Training Services Co-owner and Head Dog Trainer, Claren Mulhall, what she thought would be the most important thing to consider when looking to adopt. She said, “Make sure to have a realistic expectation. Animals are great, and we love them like they are part of the family. Keep in mind though, they are animals and may not have the best behaviors at times, like destroying things, jumping on things, and digging holes.” She encourages owners to work on teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors versus jumping straight to punishment.
Time is something that should be at the forefront of potential adoption owners’ minds. The animal will require time to get comfortable in its new environment and around new family members of both the human and furry kind. Your new companion will likely require at least a couple days of decompression time before really attempting to delve into its new surroundings. Claren also mentions that in her experience, owners should give the new animal at least a couple of weeks to fully adjust. Getting help and support to train new animals in terms of behaviors, or even simply adapting to their new forever home, is a great option to consider and businesses such as Cloud K-9 Dog Training Services offer group classes, individualized sessions, and now even have the ability to host sessions virtually.
Other Ways to Help
Saving an animal’s life is certainly something positive to bring to your new year and there are several avenues available to accomplish this goal. While offering an animal a “forever home” is fantastic for all parties, if this doesn’t seem practical for you at this time, no need to fret! You can help homeless animals in our area by providing a safe environment and fostering a pet while it waits for a forever home, volunteering at local shelters by dog walking or socializing cats, or at off-site adoption events and outreach programs. If you prefer a hands-free way to help, you can donate funds or supplies. When it comes to helping animals in need, everyone’s path and experience is unique. However, if you find that you are prepared to add a member to your family, I am confident that true joy and unconditional love will undoubtedly be added to your life!
Where To Go
ACTion Program for Animals: (575) 644-0505 or apalascruces.org
Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary: (575) 527-4544 or shaspets.com
Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley: (575) 382-0018 or ascmv.org
The Cat’s Meow: (575) 639-3036 or thecatsmeowlascruces.com
Written and Photography by: Desiree Bustamantes • Photos courtesy
Originally published in Neighbors magazine | 2021
Posted by LasCruces.com