Thursday, June 26, 2008

Albuquerque Does it Right!

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:


Diane Sullivan said...

Oh this did make me laugh. I was the City's Trainer/behaviorist for 2 yrs and believe me the snow job you got from them is bigger than any Buffalo NY sees in it's worst winters!

Darlene said...

I have no idea who you are although you say that you are a "behaviorist." I know the Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorists and I know that your'e not one of them. I know the Applied Animal Behaviorists. I don't think you have those credentials, either. I am a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant and I know with certainty that you do not have those credentials because I'm aware of my colleagues. I am also a member of the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians even though I'm not a veterinarian (I was repeatedly invited to join).
For you, whoever you may be -- and the words "disgruntled former employee" come to mind -- to say that I was "snowed" is pure slander. No one "snows" me. My credentials speak for themselves and I have earned the respect of my colleagues. I also know what I'm looking at whenever I walk into a shelter. I am also an award-winning journalist and author, I am accustomed to investigative journalism. I see things quite clearly and I know what questions to ask and how to evaluate. Translation: I know what I saw. My statements in my blog post stand. Your post, however, is more than surprising and not a little imprudent. I believe in freedom of speech, I hold it dear, but understand that I will not be slandered by you or anyone else. I have *earned* my credentials, my credibility speaks for itself. For you, whoever you are, or *think* you are, to attack me is completely unacceptable. While there is freedom of speech, you cross the line when you slander someone. You haven't just slandered the Department of Animal Welfare in Albuquerque but you have slandered me as well.
Frankly, I've never heard of you which, in itself, speaks volumes.
And I want you to know that I do not tolerate slander.

Kari said...

Darlene, I've volunteered with ABQ Animal Services for about a year and I can tell you that it's true that things weren't so great in the past. However, things have turned around immensely. I've been involved in rescue for many years and have seen many shelters. I'm very impressed with ABQ now and tell everyone I know. You did NOT get a snow job. Kari Winters

PS. You say that you don't know who Diane Sullivan is. I laughed when you said that the words "disgruntled employee" came to mind. Well, Diane Sullivan was the trainer at the ABQ shelters. I'm an award winning animal author and I can tell you that I was never impressed with her (to say the least!)

Anonymous said...

With respect to your extensive and impressive credentials, Ms Arden, I agree with Diane Sullivan. Those of us who live in Albuquerque and who have years of firsthand experience with the workings of its municipal shelters – up to and including the present – will tell quite a different story.

I am curious about what, exactly, you witnessed to lead to your conclusion that the Albuquerque Animal Care Centers are so humane and progressive. Certainly, Jeanine Patterson is an exceptionally qualified nurse. Does that automatically qualify her to run a shelter? More than just disease control is required when running a modern, progressive municipal impound for stray and unwanted animals.

Likewise, those statistics proving lowered euthanasia rates? They are in fact under investigation. Back in the spring, the shelter admitted that its numbers regarding lower euthanasia and adoption numbers were incorrect due to an “error” in its computing formula.

Also, did you witness the shelter’s behavioral modification program and/or the temperament testing methods used to evaluate dogs and cats and assess them as suitable/unsuitable for adoption? I’d love to know if you did and hear a description of those methods/criteria, because as far as I know, when I last checked (yesterday, in fact), there are NO behavioral modification or temperament testing programs in place at the City of Albuquerque’s municipal shelters. Last fall, Sullivan did in fact outline an extensive behavioral modification program for the city shelters. Management refused to implement it, or another one in its stead. All temperament testing, originally part of Diane's job duties, was halted at the beginning of this year.

As of now, the only interaction adoptable animals receive with humans is via volunteer handlers and the occasional kennel worker. There are simply not enough of either one to ensure that each dog and cat gets out of its kennel once, much less several times, a day for socialization, potty breaks, etc.

I would be happy to describe to you, outside this forum, all that I have witnessed that leads me to believe that much still needs to be done to bring this shelter into compliance progressive and humane animal sheltering criteria.

As for Ms Sullivan’s credentials, she is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer with years of experience. She is also the person who trained Mayor Martin Chavez’s dog, Dukes. So impressed was the mayor with Sullivan's skills, he created a contract position for her as the city's trainer. She was not fired. When her contract ended, it was decided that the job be put up for bid, as that is how the city of Albuquerque is supposed to hire employees. (But often does not, as witness Ms Patterson’s hiring, which was not put up for bid.) So Sullivan is far from a disgruntled employee. To the contrary, if anyone has up-to-date, objective knowledge of what goes on at the shelters, it would be she.

Finally, I do not see how you can claim, in an open forum such as this where opinion naturally reigns, that Sullivan is slandering you. She has simply pointed out that there is a disconnect between what you report and what she knows goes on there. How is pointing this out slandering YOU? As for slandering the shelter itself, when a tax paying citizen makes a complaint against a mismanaged government entity, that is not called slander. That is called citizen oversight.

Darlene said...

Ahh, someone who does not understand the meaning of "slander" (the attack on my abilities, experience, credentials and ethics) and posts "anonymously." That speaks volumes. I will not engage in discourse with "anonymous" individuals. My comments stand.

R. Warren Ash said...

I'm afraid it might be Diane Sullivan who suffered the ill effects of a snow job: perhaps to the degree that her thinking was frozen 'in situ,' and she is confusing Darlene Arden with. . .say. . .someone who is NOT Darlene Arden?

If Ms. Sullivan had any reasonable knowledge of Darlene Arden, who is foremost in her field, with credentials that can stagger, then Ms. Sullivan might have taken the odd moment to THINK before she made a comment such as she did.

It is as likely that Darlene Arden could be 'snowed' by anyone, anytime, anywhere as it relates to her profession as it would be for the snows of Kilamanjaro -- or Buffalo --
to have not left such an indelible impression on Ms. Sullivan's frontal cortex. Were this NOT so, her two-sentence comment would feel less like an avalanche of inanity.

Kari said...

Darlene, I doubt that the person who didn't have the guts to sign his or her name can be educated, but I hope that you won't mind if I educate your other readers. I know that many people read this blog and I'd like them to know that the fact that Jeanine Patterson is an RN doesn't automatically qualify her for the job. I'm also an RN and I've had a lot of management experience in hospitals and private companies. I believe that I would be highly qualified for the job, although I'd never want it. Jeanine also has a lot of management experience and that's what qualifies her for the job. The fact that she's an RN is just a very, very nice bonus.

UC Davis has a Shelter Medicine veterinarian who consulted with the ABQ shelters and came back again later to follow up. UC Davis was extremely impressed that the shelters had followed up on their recommendations and even noted that in their newsletter that goes out to all their big contributors. What are the chances that the shelters could "snow" both you AND UC Davis? I suspect that it's not very likely.

Michelle said...

I don't know what on earth you people are thinking! I had 4 of my little angels MURDERED by the Albuquerque West side pound. They are the most evil people I have ever seen in my entire life! I doubt that they will even let anyone see this because they know that this is the honest to God truth! I had the most amazing babies in the world! One of my girls I found when she was only 8 weeks old and she was unable to move anything below her neck. I was told to euthanise her because she would die any way, I chose not to play God and I thank him every day that I didn't. By the time these evil people killed her 41/2 years later she was completely normal. Granted for the first 6-8 months of her life I had to bottle feed her and express her bowels and urine myself she slowly recovered. She ran, jumped and played just like any other baby in the world. They took it upon themselves to murder her. I also have epilepsy and one of my little angels could sense my seizures. They murdered her too. They made the prices so high that it was impossible for me to get my babies out of there, $100.00 a day how am I going to pay that not to mention we all know that it does not cost anything close to that to bored 4 cats for 14 days. When I walked into that place and seen that everyone of my girls were gone I lost all control. I fell to the floor crying so hard that I couldn't breath. All that could come out of my mouth is " you are all evil and your all going to hell!" I ment every word! My mother had two full term pregnant mamas and they waited for them to give birth and then killed all of their babies. Please tell me where you people see that the pound "does it right"? Not a day goes by that I don't think of my little angels and what those sick bastards took from me and all to make money. I firmly believe that they make more money murdering these poor innocent animals than they do to adopt them out or they would not have waited for those babies to be born just to kill them. They are the sickest and most evil people I have ever seen in my life!!! The only comfort I have is in knowing that they will one day have to answer to God for their sick actions, they will all burn in hell!! Nothing makes me happier than to think of every person in there burning in hell! They all deserve it!

Kari said...

Michelle, How did your animals end up in the shelter??? It's very difficult for me to conceive of how any responsible pet parent could let their animals end up there.

Robin said...

Why did your pets go to a shelter (pound)? I don't understand what you're saying.

rescuegal said...

I am so confused by this post. I'm having a hard time telling if you had dogs or cats there. Also why would any responsible pet owner/parent board their pets in a pound/shelter. There is just a whole lot of what you say that is not making sense to me. Are you sure that you and Ms. Arden are talking about the same place???