The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Dave Harper (right) and friendAnimal Hotline is a nonprofit service to help reunite lost and found pets with their people.
P. O. Box 100, Placitas, NM 87043

If you find or lose an animal in Placitas or the surrounding area, call Dave Harper at the Animal Hotline. Placing a lost or found notice in the Hotline is a free service.

kitten for adoption

Four black kittens are available—#3016-#3019


Two dogs: Half Rottweiler/half Doberman Pincher lost from about 1.5 miles south of the Village of Placitas off Highway 165 near the eight-mile marker (Camino Don Juan) in late April. “Blossom” is a medium-sized, spayed female, brown with orange to white belly. She is a calm, five-year-old dog and has tags and microchip. #3001

Cat: Grey and white, five-year-old male cat lost from Pine Road in Ranchos de Placitas on May 1. Not neutered. #3006

Cat: Black and grey striped, one-and-a-half-year-old male cat, neutered, lost from Windmill Trail (about 2.5 miles north of the Village of Placitas) on May 21. #3015

Cat: Long haired, brown and white Tabby cat , neutered male, lost from Tunnel Springs area of Placitas on May 23rd. 16 years old. #3020


Four dogs: Seen in late April, off Camino de las Huertas, north of the Village of Placitas. One black dog, one white dog, one brown pit bull. #3002-3005

Dog: Female dog (possibly pregnant), spotted on Placitas Trails on May 10. She seemed like she could be very sick. #3009

Pack of dogs: Six or so dogs, running loose in Sundance Mesa (northwest Placitas area), have been seen by many neighbors in May (and off and on for quite some time). #3010

Cat: Black cat with yellow eyes, spotted on Los Lobos Court in the back of Ranchos de Placitas in mid-May. #3012

Two dogs: Two Blue Heelers, seen off Calle Montoya in La Mesa subdivision of northwestern Placitas area on May 18. #3013 & 3014


Four kittens: Four black kittens found in Placitas, available for adoption. They are very sweet, about six or seven weeks old. We think two are males and two are females. #3016-3019.

Animal News

Sognpost Cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert

Bear confrontations

A hiker’s encounter with a black bear in the Sandia Mountains was the latest of several reports of bears on the move and looking for food in the mountains, foothills, and bordering communities throughout New Mexico.

From Taos and Raton in the north to Silver City and Ruidoso in the south, black bears are out and about. Residents and visitors in bear country statewide are reminded to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves, their property, and the bears.
The hiker who came upon a black bear on May 6 in the Sandias put himself in danger because he wasn’t sure what to do when encountering a bear or other large predator. The man ran from the bear, and the bear followed him. Fortunately, he was able to contact Department of Game and Fish Conservation Officer Darrell Cole on his cell phone, and Cole advised him to hold his ground and fight back by throwing rocks at the bear. The strategy worked—the bear sniffed a rock and walked away, and the hiker returned home with a good story.

“Bear attacks are rare, but whenever you come across a bear, it’s very important not to run, no matter how scared you may be,” Cole said. “Running may prompt a bear to give chase, and you cannot outrun a bear.”

This is good advice, but few people expected that it would be come in handy in downtown Rio Rancho where conservation officer Darrell Cole described a “typical bear call” with a remarkably happy ending, especially considering it happened during rush hour. Department of Game and Fish officers tranquilized and removed a young black bear from inside Presbyterian Hospital in Rio Rancho about 7:30 a.m. on May 19. The one hundred twenty-five pound male bear was transported and released in the Manzano Mountains later that morning.

The bear apparently was able to enter the hospital by hitting an automatic door opener. A few witnesses inside said the bear did not threaten anyone or damage anything. Once inside, it retreated into a side room while Rio Rancho Police and Animal Control officers evacuated the immediate area. The bear retreated further into a restroom and was sedated within about a minute after it was darted by Game and Fish officers Cole and John Martsh.

“I guess if you’re going to be darted with tranquilizer, you might as well get it done in a hospital,” Cole said.
The Department of Game and Fish reminds people who live in or near bear country to take precautions to avoid encounters with black bears. The department publishes a booklet, “Living with Large Predators,” which is available on the Department website,, or by calling (505) 476-8000. The booklet contains important information about bears, cougars, and coyotes and how to avoid conflicts with them.

Of feral dogs, and feral Westerners

Feral dogs are more common in the rural West than bathtub methamphetamine labs or chainsaw carvers. They roam dumps, harass and attack wildlife and livestock, and I know from painful experience that they lie in wait on two-lane roads to discipline bicyclists.

“Rez” dogs may be famous for scavenging in roadside ditches outside Tuba City, Ariz., and Gallup, N.M., but chances are, if you’re living anyplace in the rural West—and that means not in a resort town—you’re going to meet a feral dog.

This leads me to suggest the feral dog as the region’s mascot. Sure, there are those who will protest; they’ll say wolves or bears or wild horses stand for the wide-open spaces of the American West. Thing is, there aren’t that many open spaces left. Feral dogs, on the other hand, can be found in every corner of the region. They also better represent the sort of freedom—libertarian, hardscrabble, pathologically independent, persevering and often ugly—that we embrace here in the rural West.

Take the pack of feral pups that gained semi-celebrity status in our spread-out county in western Colorado. Someone must have been unable to care for a couple of border collies, so the dogs were dropped off not far from a county dump, perhaps at the end of a gravel road where people drop off old televisions, and where teenagers pass the time by holding kegger parties and shooting at road signs. Eventually, the collie couple took shelter in a line of rusty cars sinking into the dirt. There, they bred without restraint, and by last fall the pack’s numbers had grown to some two-dozen animals scraping out a bleak existence. They ate roadkill and chased speeding cars down the highway, occasionally getting caught and crushed beneath the tires.

This was made possible, in part, because here in Delta County we don’t have a tax-supported supported animal shelter; in fact, we lack a lot that government normally provides. As is the case in much of the West, the loudest among us don’t want elected officials messing with our guns, our private lives, our homes, or even our neglected pets. Zoning is the “Z” word, and we can pretty much do whatever we want with our property. That means you can build some kind of ultra-efficient hippie home with composting toilets, or stack a few trailers on top of one another and call it a modular mansion. It’s fine until someone opens a hog farm or a gravel pit next door.

In the West, we’ve been so successful in keeping the government at bay that we’ve begun to look as ragged around the edges as a feral dog. Studies show we are less likely to have health insurance than anyone else in the nation, and adequate medical facilities are few and far between. Spending on public education is pathetic in this region, lagging far behind other states. Mental-health care is particularly under-funded, though many of us would probably rather be left alone anyway, to self-medicate. There are more substance-abusers in the West who need treatment but don’t get it, than anywhere else in the country.

When you stop and think about it, we’ve a lot in common with feral dogs. Perhaps equity refugees living in half-million dollar homes in the region’s resort towns can’t relate; for them, a well-groomed golden retriever who accompanies them on the morning run is a more appropriate mascot. But in the other West, the often-forgotten West—the underbelly where the housekeepers, dishwashers and other workers live—there’s the feral dog, the little pit-bull mongrel who can pierce a $100 running shoe and rip through an Achilles’ tendon in under a second.

In my county, the border-collie brood was finally gathered up by a volunteer animal rescue organization, which then spread the word that some 24 bred-to-herd, highly intelligent border collies needed homes. It didn’t take long for people from all over the country to swoop in and adopt all of the pups. Even semi-wild canines, it seems, can reverse their fate.

What that symbolizes, I can’t say. But as a feral Westerner myself, I’d be happy to sit around and talk about it. You bring your guns. I’ll bring the beer. We’ll go down to the end of the road and shoot up some signs or something.

Jonathan Thompson is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado ( He is the paper’s associate editor.

U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services stats

1.746 million: Number of animals killed in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, whose mission is to “resolve wildlife conflicts and create a balance that allows people and wildlife to coexist peacefully.”

32: Number of endangered black-footed ferrets killed by coyotes in Arizona

449: Number of pets killed by coyotes in California

1,744: Number of lambs killed by coyotes in Wyoming

72,817: Number of coyotes killed in the U.S. by Wildlife Services

39: Number of lambs killed by golden eagles in Wyoming

3: Number of eagles killed in the U.S. by Wildlife Services

166: Number of cattle and sheep killed by feral dogs in Arizona

165: Number of feral dogs killed by Wildlife Services in Arizona

1,147/552: Number of feral cats Wildlife Services killed and freed, respectively, in the U.S.

1.23 million: Number of European starlings killed in the U.S. by Wildlife Services

1: Number of feral sheep killed by Wildlife Services in Wyoming

Source: 2005 figures, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services






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