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Animal shelter in Las Cruces creates checklists for drivers after four kittens die in move

Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley.
Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley.
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An animal shelter in Las Cruces reconsidered safety precautions after four kittens died on their watch when moving them to another rescue group in Colorado.

Clinton Thacker, the executive director of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, told KFOX14 they were working on creating a checklist of what needed to be checked in their vans before heading out to transport their animals.

"We are responsible for what happened. These are our animals and this was our employee that was driving them and it’s our vehicle," said Clinton Thacker the executive director of Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, "What we’re taking from this is that we lost four precious little kittens that were less than four months old and it’s been hard for all of us here at the center."

Thacker said they moved animals to different rescue organizations every week across the state of New Mexico and other states.

"We’re sending them so animals can leave our center alive otherwise they would be euthanized," said Thacker.

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Thacker told KFOX14 they were working with their medical department to determine the amount of time it took an animal to show signs of stress to organize stops according to that time slot.

He said they assumed the problem started when the driver made their first fuel stop.

"When I say the heater it’s a special unit that’s in the transport vehicle, so that reset itself to a higher level than it was previously set to," said Thacker.

He said the driver checked on the animals and they were fine.

It was not until they reached their destination that they saw four kittens were dead.

Upon return Thacker said they noticed all vents were closed except for two back kennels that the four kittens were in.

Meaning, all that hot air flow was directed at them.

"We’re assuming that during cleaning or some time period those vents were accidentally closed except for those two kennels. They were left open for some reason," said Thacker.

Thacker said they were working on having a checklist before heading out and checking if vents were open or closed was an item they would be including.

He said they also wanted to train their employees to watch out for signs of stress on an animals that is overheated or too cold.

"These deaths aren’t in vain and we’ll be able to learn and never do this again," said Thacker

Thacker told KFOX14 he encouraged the community to spay and neuter their pets so they could have less animals going in and they could try to send them to local areas instead.

To find resources made available by the shelter including finding a place to spay or neuter your pet for a low cost click here.

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