City shelter director violates new policy

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – On the same day Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry signed new policies at city shelters, animal welfare director Barbara Bruin was already breaking the rules.

The case, spelled out in memos obtained by KRQE News 13, centers around a 9-month-old pit bull puppy named Jewels. Jewels was brought in as a stray on July 1 according to shelter records. She has been in city custody ever since.

“She just recently, last week, started losing it because of kennel stress and just being locked up for so long,” said Bruin.

Jewels jumped and grabbed onto a shelter worker’s arm with her teeth. She was evaluated by the shelter’s Population Management Team, which is tasked with making decisions about which dogs should or should not be euthanized. The team determined that the “dog is showing signs of kennel deterioration,” but did not decide to recommend euthanasia.

However, another memo from the following day says the bad behavior continued. It reads:

Dog attempted to bite at me when I came near. Similar behavior reported by other staff. Dog has deteriorated.

At some point, a shelter employee put the dog on a recommended euthanasia list.

That’s when Bruin stepped in. Another memo from that same day by animal welfare operations manager Joel Craig says that Jewels was “removed from euthanasia list per [Barbara Bruin].” Bruin recommended Jewels be considered for a new program the shelter is running that allows cooped up dogs to get some time away from the kennel.

“We thought she might be able to use a little vacation, a break from the shelter and also some training,” Bruin said.

The next day, while Bruin was walking Jewels, the dog bit another shelter staffer. Jewels is now in quarantine as a result.

It’s happened before. An Inspector General’s report that looked into allegations the shelter had adopted out dangerous dogs found Bruin had overruled experts and saved a dog named Pappy from euthanasia lists twice. In between those decisions, Pappy attacked and killed a poodle.

Because of that and other concerns surrounding the department, Mayor Berry signed into place a new policy on Friday that the shelter director is not allowed to be involved in the decision to add or remove animals from euthanasia lists.

Although Jewels was added to the list in violation of that same policy, Bruin’s decision to remove the pit bull broke the rules as well.

“Per our new standard operating procedures, she violated that procedure,” said Michael Riordan, the City of Albuquerque’s chief operations officer. “From our eyes she is too involved in this case. [It’s] not that she made a wrong decision but it shouldn’t be her making that decision.”

Bruin says it won’t happen again.

“Going forward, there will be staff handling all these kinds of things,” Bruin said.

“We’re going to continue to work on it to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Riordan said.

Jewels will remain in quarantine for at least the next week and a half. She could be transferred to the program after that time.

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