A dog at Sandoval County's modest kennel facility near the county courthouse in Bernalillo enjoys a little exercise time. Credit: T.S. Last

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The much-anticipated plan to build an animal services complex to include a full-service shelter, veterinary clinic and training program has found a home in Bernalillo.

The Sandoval County Commission last month took action to pursue a $2 million sale of 22.6 acres of vacant land south of the US 550 interchange.

The property is on the west side of Interstate 25 along South Hill Road bordered to the north by Eldridge Lane and to the south by MCT Industries, Inc.

Little was said at the Dec. 14 commission meeting about the animal shelter itself, with the commission voting to authorize the county manager and county attorney to take steps to facilitate the sale of the property, owned by the heirs of Barbara and James Baylor.

To facilitate the purchase, the commission voted to waive the conflict of interest provision to allow County Attorney Michael Eshleman to represent both parties in the transaction (see story on page ??).

Sandoval County has already developed plans and set aside funding to build a $3.85 million complex anchored by a full-service animal shelter with adoption services.

The complex will be built in phases, with a 24-hour veterinary clinic coming after construction of a kennel facility, the Signpost previously reported. The county also has an agreement with Colorado State University’s Veterinary Medicine and Biological Science program to create and conduct a professional mentorship and training program.

Sandoval County has spent the last two years looking for a location for the facility. It has spent some money on the design already and tucked away some more in preparation for the build.

In 2021, Sen. Brenda McKenna, D-Corrales, and Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, secured $600,000 in capital outlay spending for construction of a Sandoval County animal shelter. That same year, the county commission approved a plan to borrow up to $6.75 million for two separate loans to be repaid from existing tax revenue. One loan covered cost overruns in the design of a new Sheriff’s Office, and the other was to fund the planning of an animal shelter.

According to county assessor records, the property is zoned non-residential with an actual value of $331,000. 

In 2022, the Baylor heirs, whose address is in Sierra Blanca, Texas, were assessed $3,200 in property taxes.

Sandoval County Animal Control Services operates under the Sheriff’s Office and is responsible for enforcing the animal control ordinance. Two full-time animal control officers serve the unincorporated areas of Sandoval County, according to the county’s website.

Another three animal care associates tend to a temporary kennel at climate-controlled kennel facility located at the county’s administrative campus at 1500 Idalia Road in Bernalillo. That facility consists of just seven kennels and an exercise area in back.

That’s where dogs are first taken when they are picked up by animal control officers. Cats are placed in “feline-specific” safe environments, according to the website.

Most impounded animals are either returned to their owner or transferred to a pet adoption agencies. In some cases, homeless pets are adopted out through the Community Services Department.

“And in all cases where appropriate, the preference is to place impounded pets in temporary foster homes rather than a facility environment,” according to the county.

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