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Mayor Keller: Work Continues to Clean up the Animal Welfare Department

Mayor Keller outlines challenges and solutions at the Animal Welfare Department

February 22, 2018

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller today was joined by John Soladay, Acting Director of the City’s Animal Welfare Department, to detail the City’s ongoing efforts to address past leadership and policy concerns and to reiterate their commitment to care for all of Albuquerque’s pets. Director Soladay stepped into the role of Acting Director at Mayor Keller’s request to help address a number of concerns raised by staff, volunteers, and the broader community. The two were joined by Chief Operations Officer Lawrence Rael and Vickie Fisher of Kennel Kompadres.

“While the Animal Welfare Department has faced some leadership challenges, we have moved quickly to make necessary changes that are putting us back on track,” stated Mayor Keller. “Our dedicated staff and volunteers help take in nearly 1,500 pets each month, and we are doing everything we can to help care and find forever homes for them. We’ll continue to work diligently with our staff, our volunteers, and our partner organizations to address the challenges, and to create a culture that allows us to adequately care for our pets.”

Mayor Keller and Director Soladay detailed how past leadership inaccurately calculated euthanasia rates and ignored Department policies in order to maintain the City’s no-kill status, which is often defined by a euthanasia rate of less than ten percent. From the beginning of December to early February, the City took in 2,430 pets and euthanized 233, indicating a rate of 9.7 percent. Currently, more than 60 percent of the pets in the City’s shelters have been there for more than 90 days, putting them at risk of behavioral issues that could cause them to become unadoptable.

Mayor Keller also addressed concerns surrounding an associate director who has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of inappropriately transporting dogs for profit.

Under Director Soladay’s leadership, the Department is currently reviewing its policies and procedures to ensure they reflect the City’s commitment to the humane treatment of Albuquerque’s pets. Department employees are undergoing additional workplace training to ensure all procedures are properly followed. Additionally, the Department is working closely with its 400 active volunteers to help fill gaps and ensure pets are receiving the care and exercise they need.

Mayor Keller also announced Department leaders are working with their partners to improve spay and neuter programs and to ensure the Department’s commitment to ending breed discrimination. Mayor Keller has initiated a national search for the next department director.