ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Director is under fire again after employees claimed he broke the rules on dangerous dogs — putting the public in danger. Those employee complaints prompted an investigation.
The city said while the findings of that investigation are a concern, they are not as bad as the problems that cost the last director her job.
The previous director, Barbara Bruin, stepped down in 2015 after a city investigation found she had a track record for taking dogs labeled dangerous off the suggested kill list to adopt them out. Shortly after, new euthanasia guidelines were put into place.
“To say that this dog is a danger to society and should be euthanized is a very difficult decision,” said Michael Riordan, City of Albuquerque. “We put together a Population Management Team, which had a three-person team from three different aspects of Animal Welfare that would determine whether a dog was adoptable.”
Now the new Animal Welfare Director, Paul Caster, is under fire for also trying to keep dangerous dogs off the euthanasia list. The city just released the results from a four-month investigation. Included in the report — emails showing Caster questioning the staff’s decisions to put animals on the “euthanasia list.”
The staff said ignoring medical and professional recommendations is a matter of public safety.
“Some of the staff thought that Paul, the director, was having too much influence on them not being put on the unadoptable list,” said Riordan. “Making sure that when we adopt an animal out into our society that it’s a safe animal. In one case where we found actually came off of the unadoptable list.”
In that case, the Population Management had found the dog to be “unadoptable,” but Caster still adopted the dog out to a volunteer.
“While some of those are understandable on the compassion side, on the policy side, we had to call him on it and he understands,” said Riordan.
The city insists that despite the policy violations, the shelters have not adopted out any dangerous dogs over the past couple years. The city said its animal shelter population is at its lowest point with close to 400 animals, which is about half of what it had in the past.