Robyn Gojkovich, a certified law enforcement officer with the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department, has been a criminal investigator for over 10 years. In 2005, she began investigating animal crimes in the Doña Ana County expanding to the parameters of New Mexico.
Originally, all the dogs that were seized went to a local animal shelter because it was the only option at the time. However, while the criminal cases were being filed, some of the dogs began to disappear. Some were unfortunately accidentally euthanized due to over crowding, others were housed together, creating an environment where they would fight and kill each other. Some would get sick and die on their own. Because these dogs were still considered evidence, it was extremely detrimental to the cases and more secure measures were in need.
Officer Gojkovich sought assistance to build a new structure from both the City and the County but regrettably got turned down, so she approached the Sherriff who offered a couple of acres of land that belonged to the department and began building a temporary shelter with the help of supplies donated by a local animal shelter.
Despite the limited resources, animal cruelty complaints such as hoarding, neglect and abuse continued to pour in to the sheriff’s office, which made Robyn’s job quite difficult as she continuously struggled to find suitable shelter for the victims.
In 2010, after many hopeful promises and a shoestring budget, the County built the shell of a shelter. Today it sits unfinished due to lack of funding, and the animals are still kept at the outdoor facility that was only meant to be a temporary solution.
In the summer, it is so hot they have to continually water the ground so the dogs won’t burn their feet; in the winter, it’s not any better, they stuff the dog houses with straw to keep them warm. When it rains, they have to make sure the dogs are off the ground so they don’t drown. And sadly, they often have to beg for money just to feed the animals.
Because justice isn’t always swift, and the court system can get bogged down, a lot of these animals at the shelter stay longer than expected. They didn’t choose this lifestyle; a criminal did. It is up to us to give them a better, more comfortable place to call home while they a wait the next phase of their life.