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Vets see more cases of one type of animal cruelty

By: Genevieve Curtis

Las Cruces: N.M.--- Animal cruelty isn't always direct.

One Las Cruces veterinarian said they see an alarming number of dogs who haven't been groomed in months or years often times causing major health issues and pain for the animal.

Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock of the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley said she sees at least one dog a day with an overgrown coat; sometimes it's been years since the dog's last haircut.

"It runs into money and a lot of people don't realize that. They are really cute when they are puppies. They are a little white fur balls and then they grow up and they need to be groomed they need to be maintained and a lot of people in this community don't want to maintain their animals at the level they need to be maintained," said Vesco-Mock.

This type of neglect creates thick mats which tug on animals' skin and sometimes flies lay eggs underneath the dogs' fur and maggots get into the dogs' skin.

To be clipped, trimmed and groomed is all some of the dogs at the animal services center long for.

One abandoned poodle at the center has such thick mats on her paw it's causing her great difficulty to walk.

Another poodle has such bad mats it's caused her to go blind in her right eye; she's not even 2 years old.

Vesco Mock says they've seen some cases of neglect so severe they've had to remove body parts.

"It is very disgusting. We have seen it to the point that the mats have been so tight around their extremities, it cuts off blood supply and the leg is dead and we have had to amputate," said Vesco-Mock.

Once a week seven to nine dogs head off to Animal Haven for a desperately needed cut. "Basically what it takes is a surgical blade to get in that close," said owner Steve Smelser. Steve and Margaret Smelser volunteer services at their business to give the dogs a new lease on life.

"After you get that hair off of them you can start to see their personality change, they start moving around, you can tell it feels good because their air is getting to the skin and they don't have this constant tension of the hair being pulled," said Steve Smelser. After years without so much as a trim, Smelser said it can take more than an hour just to shave off the fur of one dog. Often times once they peel back the fur they find the lesions, maggots, sticker or grass seeds that are causing the dog pain. "Ninety percent of them come back, shaved down and big sores on them where the mats were sitting causing lesions against their skin," said Vesco-Mock.

After a day at the Haven Salon, the dogs leave with a new do which hopefully turns into a new home.

"If they look better, than they have a better chance of getting adopted," said Margaret Smelser.

The problem with this type of animal cruelty is that owners often surrender their dogs or abandon them and so there is no one to hold accountable.

"But unfortunately nobody is claiming these dogs so there's no one for the officers to charge so they're not able to follow up," said Vesco-Mock.



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