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City Modernizes Westside Animal Shelter

Renovations will improve the experience of both shelter pets and visiting patrons
May 23, 2024

Today, Mayor Tim Keller and Animal Welfare Department (AWD) announced the essential completion of phase one renovations to improve and modernize the Westside Animal Shelter. The renovations were designed to reduce stress for the shelter animals, while creating a welcoming positive experience for patrons, prospective adopters, and volunteers. The $4.5 million-dollar project is funded by a combination of Capital funding, GO Bonds, State Junior Bill, State Capital Outlay, General fund and donation. 

“Albuquerque is recognized nationally as a pet-friendly city, and we take their health and well-being of our pets seriously,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “By extensively improving and modernizing the Westside Animal Shelter, we’re investing in a brighter future for these animals and the families who will give them their forever homes.”

“I am grateful for the backing provided by our state legislators for these crucial enhancements to our animal shelters, said Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn. “Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto's extraordinary donation of over $1 million served as the bedrock of our funding. His generous contribution empowered the City to greatly elevate the living conditions and welfare of all the animals who spend time in our shelter system. A sincere thank you to Senator Ivey-Soto!”

"The mark of a community is how they treat the least among them said NM State Senator Daniel Ivey.”  “Animals provide comfort and care, but cannot speak for themselves and can be very vulnerable. I was pleased to support Councilor Fiebelkorn's request for funding the City's animal shelters so that we can continue to provide proper care for those creatures who often care for us the most."

The phase one milestone is now close complete. The renovations have doubled the outdoor play space for dogs by reconfiguring dog runs from six to eight, and added two new bonding areas for dogs to meet their potential new families. The department was able to optimize the two existing play yards by converting them into a total of 5 play yards. The transformation of these play yards will allow dogs to socialize with each other and run free in an open space, allowing dogs to burn off energy and reduce stress, thereby helping them to become more relaxed when meeting families hoping to adopt.

The upgrades include three large shade structures that cover 3,250 square feet of the play yards. The shade facilitates exercise and training for dogs nearly year-round. One of the yards also includes a new elevated walk way, a fire hydrant statue, benches and a table. 

New colored privacy panels are being installed in front of the dog kennels. These panels will provide a partial visual barrier, allowing dogs more choices in their kennel environment and a place for retreat. The privacy front panels are intended to improve the well-being of the pets in AWD’s care by providing a safer, more comfortable and less stressful environment than offered by the previous kennels.

Other improvements include:

  • HVAC system upgraded to refrigerated air will keep the shelter pets cool throughout the summer months
  • Landscaping – xeriscaping, new gravel, irrigation, trees, plants
  • Custom interior wall graphics added to the facility
  • Renovation of employee restrooms to be ADA compliant

Additionally, internships with Atrisco Heritage high school are being introduced for students to learn new skills while supporting the AWD staff and shelter pets

Phase two will start in the summer with replacing facility doors, expanding the landscaping and replacing trough drain covers in kennel buildings.

“I am excited that our Westside animal shelter has been upgraded so that our animals in search of a home are well taken care of said State Representative Eleanor Chavez.”

AWD would like to acknowledge support on this project from Mayor Tim Keller, NM State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, State Representative Eleanor Chavez, Representative Cynthia Borrego, Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn, Councilor Klarissa Pena, President of Kennel Kompadres Vickie Fisher, DCAO-Matt Whelan and Director Solid Waste, Billy Gallegos.

“It has been wonderful to see the One Albuquerque spirit in action at the Westside shelter,” said Director of Animal Welfare Department, Carolyn Ortega. “The renovations are a great example of a partnership between elected officials and inter-departments working together, so that AWD can keep progressively moving forward to provide resources to the public and pets in need.”

AWD also acknowledges the entities whose work has made it possible to continue to care for the pets at the shelter during the improvements. These include Lead Architect Oscar Tovar, General Contractor Franken Construction Project Foremen Rusty Hiers, CABA DMD Construction Project Manager Juanito Serna, AWD Building & Maintenance staff and Solid Waste Clean Cities.

The department encourages families who visit their shelter to choose any one of the hundreds of loving pets, who are ready for a family, and to make new memories. The adoption fee is waived for all pets. Each adoption will include spay or neuter, vaccinations, a custom pet tag and a microchip. AWD is also offering one day of free basic dog training with every adoption. To view adoptable pets, go to

Link to the press conference:



The City of Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department’s mission is to protect and serve the pets and people of Albuquerque by providing Caregiving, Awareness, Resources, Enforcement and Service excellence.