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Eunice youth achieve dream of holding center for stray animals

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Eunice youth achieve dream of holding center for stray animals

EUNICE — Seven Eunice High School students, all members of the Eunice Youth Advisory Council, celebrated a dream this week they’ve helped make come true.

Their dream was to build a holding center for stray animals picked up in Eunice, and although it took four years of effort, many talks with public officials, a certain amount of disappointment, they learned that determination and persistence can pay off. The holding center they wanted will become a reality sometime this year.

“The problem was, if a pet got picked up, it was carried to Hobbs to the Adoption Center and if people from Eunice didn’t have a way to get over to Hobbs to pick it up, they just lost their pet,” Jada Jones said. “We wanted a place where pets could be cared for here for a few days before they were transported to Hobbs.”

Four years ago, advisory council members presented their plan to state legislators, Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, and Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal. It included estimates of cost and plans for the facility and the plan made it through the legislature only to be vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

“She said it wasn’t compact enough,” Martin Moore said. “So we tried to get it more compact.”

The students tried again during the next two legislative sessions. They made appointments with the governor and had dates when they thought they would get to see her.

“But she canceled the appointments at the last minute,” Oscar Martinez said. “They said she was in a meeting with someone else.”

Disappointing as that was, the students didn’t give up. They contacted Gallegos and Leavell, who accompanied them to an appointment with the governor.

“She seemed to be really engaged with us during our conversation,” Kassady Hemmingson said. “She really paid attention to what we were saying. And then she signed the bill that authorized the shelter.”

Candy Brito, Eunice city clerk, is one of the advisors who works with the council. In an interview Tuesday, she said, “They really worked hard on this project and they are proud of it. And we are all proud of them.”

Marty Moore, Eunice city manager, is another adult who works with the youth council. He joined the seven members of the group Tuesday morning as they talked about their efforts to get the animal shelter.

“This is one of the quietest groups we’ve ever had, but they have been willing to get up and talk to people who have power. They have put aside being shy or being scared and they’ve done a terrific job.”

Moore said the animal shelter project is not the only concern the students have.

“They’re concerned about traffic flow downtown. And someone went to the park and vandalized it and killed the ducks and they want to get ducks back out there. They are interested in projects that will be good for Eunice and the people who live here,” Moore said.

Students involved in winning support for the animal shelter said they learned not to give up when you don’t get the result you want the first time.

“And it gave us a better understanding of how government works,” Kaylee Epperson said.

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