By Robert Nott
The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 17, 2024

ESPAÑOLA — Two big dogs recovered from surgery on blankets on the floor of the Española Humane Spay/Neuter Clinic on a recent busy day.

Nearby, clinic manager Dora Montano took the temperature of Mongol, a 9-month old tabby cat with a purr that could melt a heart of ice.

Elsewhere in the 1,700-square-foot clinic, veterinarians and vet technicians worked on a number of dogs and cats requiring everything from basic checkups to vaccinations to spay and neuter surgeries. Many of the services come at no cost to the animals’ owners.

The clinic sees 40 to 50 patients a day, Montano said as she prepared Mongol for a shot of vaccine. That number could double if fundraising comes through to pay for a larger facility. The site has already been chosen: It will be built at the intersection of Riverside Drive and N.M. 291, about a mile north of Walmart.

Española Humane Executive Director Bridget Lindquist said Española Humane has raised $5 million for the project since October with a goal to raise $2 million more to cover operating costs for three years after new clinic opens — ideally by the end of 2025.

The organization is seeking donations to help match a $500,000 gift made by an anonymous donor that will, if successful, raise $1 million, she said.

Lindquist added she’s confident the organization will raise the last $1 million — possibly through another matching gift.

“We need help getting over the finish line with the remaining amount,” she said.

Lindquist and the board are in the process of hiring a general contractor to oversee the project, which will be built out of modular units. Four finalists will be interviewed next week.

The 5,900-square-foot building’s design will give off an “airy, light” vibe with lots of windows, Lindquist said. It will include a comfortable lobby and “space to accommodate 100 animals a day.”

The need for a larger facility has been exacerbated by the fact that many local private veterinary clinics haven’t been taking new patients since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, she said. “We are seeing greater and greater numbers of people coming to us saying, ‘Our animal is sick; our animal broke a leg; I have nowhere to go.’”

Ben Swan, a spokesman for the shelter, said the current facility is “always crowded, overcrowded” with pets.

The clinic serves both private customers and the shelter next door, he added.

Lindquist, who announced she will retire in October after 19 years in the position, said she wants to get all the financial and operational aspects of the project in order before her successor comes on board. The clinic hopes to have a new director in place by September.

Other plans tied to the new clinic include developing an internship program for New Mexico residents, including tribal members, and recruiting surgical veterinarian students to serve three-month stints with the clinic, with the hope of enticing them to stay in New Mexico.

She said the clinic’s leaders are still talking about how to make those plans a reality.

The clinic provides a lifeline for the community because it offers “veterinary service to pets who may have never experienced it before,” Lindquist said. “Nobody knows how many pets here need that help.”

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