LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The Mesilla Valley Animal Services Executive Director admitted to ABC-7 Thursday that the shelter conducted medical experiments on dogs three years ago.
Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock said the shelter took part in an experiment in 2013 and 2014, but no animals were ever harmed.
Now, the Humane Society of Southern New Mexico (HSSNM) is questioning why the public was never notified about the experiments.
Frank Bryce, the president of HSSNM, told our New Mexico Mobile Newsroom on Tuesday, he and the chairman of the board that oversees the shelter took an unannounced tour of the facility.
"I asked her directly, 'Are you doing medical experiments?', and she said yes," Bryce added.
Vesco-Mock told ABC-7 that the experiment involved giving treatment to dogs for diarrhea. "We got $1,200 dollars per dog", added Vesco-Mock. She said she worked with a drug company called Jaguar. In return, the shelter received money per every dog they treated.
Bryce wanted to know why the board was never notified about it. "I think it's improper that the board didn't know about it, that it's never been reported," said Bryce.
Vesco-Mock admitted, "I do not believe I ever specifically mentioned it to them."
Vesco-Mock said the drug company was listed in the shelter's budget, adding that she enters into contracts all the time since she is the executive director.
She's adamant no animals were ever harmed.
"The line item is reviewed by the city's finance department," said Vesco-Mock. "It is presented to the board every month. There is no harm being done to these animals. Actually, these animals got a little bit better care."
Vesco-Mock said the money went into the shelter's general fund. She decided not to take part in it again because it was a big time commitment.
"I don't know if I felt any different for my outrage, or my concern for the animals," said Bryce.
Last month, ABC-7 reported that the kill rate at the shelter is down 75-percent since 2008. Although Vesco-Mock's work gained her a round of applause from the board of directors, she stressed that the shelter needs more money to save the animals.
Vesco-Mock said the shelter spends under $160 per animal. In comparison, the city of El Paso spends $365 per animal.
The center is working to educate the public on being better pets owners, which means spaying and neutering to help reduce pet over population.
Staff members are also turning to volunteers and foster families to give more animals a second chance. Dog and cats are also being transferred to other shelters throughout the country that are not overpopulated.
The No. 1 breed of dog euthanized at the shelter is a pit bull. Two out of three dogs killed are pit bulls.