With all the recent animal hoarding cases in Doña Ana County, the county's animal control unit is struggling with an overcrowding issue.
Officials told ABC-7 there isn't enough room to house all the animals they have confiscated. They said the problem should have been fixed years ago with the construction of a housing facility that was never finished.
"Here we are three years later, and nothing's changed. The building is in the exact same condition that it was when it was built three years ago," said Animal Cruelty Task Force Coordinator Curtis Childress.
A building in Las Cruces was meant to house up to 24 evidentiary animals for animal control. Instead, it's sitting there empty.
"We still need the cages to be built on the inside. We still need the ventilation system. We need air conditioning and heating," Childress said.
For now, animal control is using what was supposed to be a temporary facility west of Las Cruces.
It's an outdoor facility with makeshift cages where the animals have to sit out in the hot sun all day.
"We actually have to go out there, and we have to spray the ground down with water," Childress said.
The animals are all kept as evidence for cases ranging from animal cruelty to animal hoarding. It's up to animal control to care for them until the cases go to trial.
"You're talking years, or the potential for years, before you ever go to court," Childress said.
Doña Ana County Commissioner Karen Perez told ABC-7 after touring the facility last week that something needs to be done.
"To say that it is not an ideal condition would be an understatement," Perez said.
The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office used grant money to start construction on the building. When it ran out, construction came to a halt. Now, they're searching for the funds to finish it.
"To have this building so close and still unfinished, it definitely needs to be a priority, and it needs to go into the budget for this year," Perez said.
With its location on animal control property, officials said animals housed in the new building would get care from their mobile veterinary clinic just a few feet away.
"The animals are right there, so when it comes to assessment of the animals, when it comes to care of the animals, we're ready to go," Childress said.
Perez said she's waiting on an estimate from contractors before she can take action to find the funds to finally get the project finished.