I arrived in New Mexico on Friday. Animal person that I am, I was at the Albuquerque Shelter on Saturday. This is a City that had one of the worst possible systems that was called Animal Services. An average of 28,000 animals was brought into the two shelters every year and far too many were euthanized. That is no longer true and within months it began to be turned around in a big way. Impossible, you say? Hardly. All you need is someone who cares and who is determined to do something.
In Albuquerque's case it was their Mayor, Martin Chavez, who saw the problem and set to work fixing it. In a stroke of absolute brilliance, he put Jeanine Patterson, a Registered Nurse by training, in the position of Director and she set to work turning the entire system around. For the first time in 20 years the euthanasia numbers dropped into double digits. The shelter was cleaned up and a new facility appeared in a mall where people can shop and stop by and visit cats and dogs who might just be great additions to their family. Patterson is no ordinary nurse. She opened medical clinics around the world for Intel. She knows how to make things happen. She even invited Dr. Sandra Newbury from the University of California-Davis visit because she specializes in Shelter Medicine and could make recommendations of everything from the most effective cleaning and deodorizing as well as disinfecting agents to better protocols to limit stress while cleaning cages.
Patterson is one of the nicest women I've had the pleasure of meeting and those who work with her and those who volunteer would appear to agree since there is such a warmth that passes among those at the shelter. The Albuquerque Animal Care Center is something to be seen. And something the residents of Albuquerque can take great pride in having in their City.
The shelter is clean, bright, well-maintained and there is a veterinary staff. The associate director is, in fact, John Romero who is on the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine. The method of adopting is fair.
The fact is that Mayor Chavez has his own dog who goes everywhere with him, including his office every day. One of the most popular annual fund-raising events is the Mayor's Dog Ball.
In concert with this effort, is a group called Kennel Kompadres. The Friends of Kennel Kompadres are those who donate money to help augment the money the City has set aside for the Shelters. In other words, in many other places it's common for donations to a shelter to go into one fund and the money might end up being used for road repair instead of going to the shelter. Kennel Kompadres raises funds to help augment the shelter needs including humane traps for feral cats, etc., puppy and kitten formulas, kitten beds, toys, pet food to help those who foster animals for the shelter. They also do a wonderful job of humane education for children. They bring dogs and cats into school classrooms to educate the children about caring for pets and how to stay safe. They also pay for and distribute coloring books filled with animal care information and they have the equivilent of pet baseball cards for the children to collect. On the back are pet care facts, including spaying and neutering.
There is an Eastside Shelter as well as a Westside Shelter and people who truly care about animals in each.
Thanks to Mayor Chavez, Jeanine Patterson and people who augment the staff like Rick DeReyes, as well as those involved in Kennel Kompadres, many dogs and cats as well as puppies and kittens have found loving homes, life instead of death. The numbers keep coming down for euthanasia and up for adoption. Who could ask for more.
If you know me, you know that I don't impress easily. Albuquerque's Department of Animal Welfare has certainly impressed me. Their motto: Spay, Neuter, Adopt, Love serves as a shining beacon for every community in the United States. And Mayor Martin Chavez should be honored for his foresightedness, compassion, caring, and his determination to take action for the animals of Albuquerque. Bravo!
Visit the Animal Care Centers and Kennel Kompadres online: