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Senior Animal Handler Locates Service Dog

Employee of the Week: Animal Welfare Department’s Roxanne Sanchez

Mayor Richard J. Berry recognized Roxanne Sanchez, a Senior Animal Handler in the City of Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department, for going above and beyond to help a customer locate his service animal that had been impounded.


In March 2017, a gentleman went to the Animal Welfare Department’s Eastside Animal Shelter to claim his dog that had been collected by Animal Welfare after it was found without its owner. The owner of the dog had difficulty explaining to the shelter’s staff the series of events which led to the dog being seized, and had difficulty communicating his unique needs. Sanchez was listening in and noticed that the man was having difficulty explaining himself and decided to assist. She spoke to him with compassion, patience and sensitivity, which helped to reduce his stress level to better articulate the circumstance he was in. Because of her thoughtfulness, she helped the man to better explain that his missing dog was his service animal.


Sanchez worked with the shelter’s customer service staff to locate the dog, and identify the reclaim fees that might be applied. Sanchez learned that the service dog had been taken to Animal Welfare’s Westside Animal Shelter for housing during the animal’s stray wait period. The man explained to Sanchez that he wished to get his dog home as quickly as possible but that he did not have transportation to get it from the Westside shelter, which is located on the outskirts of west Albuquerque. Sanchez volunteered to pick up the service dog, transport it to the Eastside shelter where the dog would undergo required surgery to be neutered, and arrange for it to be held until the animal was fully recovered. Animals that are intact are required to undergo surgery, as part of the City’s support of positive animal population management. Sanchez explained to the man that all reclaim fees would be waived as this was the dog’s first impound.


Animal Welfare Department Director, Paul Caster, reported that Sanchez demonstrated true, outstanding compassion for the man and his service dog by continuing to work with him during the reclaim process, until it was resolved. He explained that because of her willingness to take time from an already busy day and invest her personal time and effort toward helping the customer in need is a reflection of her character. It is for these reasons that Roxanne Sanchez was recognized as this week’s City of Albuquerque’s Employee of the Week.