four Investigations: Albuquerque’s “distinctive” cause for violating its personal animal welfare regulation

“We made a call on this case,” said Animal Welfare Director Carolyn Ortega, “and we probably won’t do it again. It was just … it was the perfect storm. “

In its more than 20,000 words, the HERZ regulation provides for no exception to the “perfect storm”. His strict rules make the case of a one-year-old Belgian Malinois in the Eastside Shelter so interesting.

The bitch, a bitch, was not neutered when she was admitted on October 29th. The breed, which resembles a German Shepherd, is known to be determined, smart, and a popular choice for K9 law enforcement units. Within minutes of the animal being brought into the shelter’s reception lobby, the animal was recognized by Albuquerque Police Department Sgt. Jason Saavedra.

The APD veteran works with the department’s K9 unit and, according to the city, had his police unit filled at the city pumps next to the animal shelter. Animal rights officials said he recognized the woman who brought the stray dog, asked about it, and followed the couple to the shelter. It’s a circumstance manager named Ortega who is called “Unique”.

After the dog was given up for adoption, Saavedra asked a shelter manager to give him the dog “intact” – or without neutering. It’s a motion that the city should have turned down according to the HEART regulation. The records show that the shelter manager knew that Saavedra was working with the police and that Saavedra planned to “train this dog as a personal shelter pet for his family. He asked for this consideration because he had concerns about sterilization before the age of two, which could possibly cause problems with growth, drive and health. “

The HERZ regulation provides for an exception for castration or castration: the health of the animal, which is documented by a veterinarian. The dog’s file contains no evidence that anything ever happened; Instead, he showed several times that the animal welfare officer, Joel Craig, had agreed to Saavedra’s adoption of the dog, only with the promise that the officer would have her neutered within a year.

This exception alone raised the eyebrows of the city employees. One of them turned to KOB 4 and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation in the workplace.

“You mustn’t,” said the employee about the shelter’s decision. “We have never done that before.”

The rules are so strict that if the dog had been claimed by its owner, the city still would not have released it without first changing the animal. Unless it was the first time at the shelter for a dog that had an “intact” permit; a document that enables an owner to have an animal that can be bred. On November 2, Saavedra left both the dog and an intact permit.

Again, the agent said it was something that didn’t happen to a member of the general public.

“We’re forcing them to obey city ordinances, but are we allowing someone else not to obey the same ordinance that everyone else has? That doesn’t make sense, ”said the employee.

This is especially true because Saavedra has a second file in the city’s system with a second internal identification number and a second intact authorization for another Belgian Malinois. A man.

Reached by phone, Saavedra informed KOB 4 that the dog, now called Xyra, is not being bred. He said he asked a breeder for advice and the breeder told him that an unchanged dog is a healthier dog. Saavedra did not say whether he had provided any veterinary records on the dog’s health as required by city law.

Veterinary work on the health effects of castration / neutering prescriptions is not as exhaustive as one might think, said Dr. Heather Weir. As a professor at Colorado State University’s prestigious College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Weir teaches neutering to veterinarians.

“Yes, there can be individual exceptions,” she said. “Sometimes an animal is just not healthy enough at the time of adoption to undergo surgery.”

Dr. Weir said Belgian Malinois are considered to be skeletal at 9 months to a year – an important marker of willingness to be castrated or neutered. Furthermore, the argument about keeping a female intact for training purposes does not hold up.

“For women, estrogen really isn’t the same type of steroid (as testosterone),” she said. “And I’m not sure if you will really do much in a woman’s muscle development or drive change like you would in a man.”

Spay or neuter laws are almost invulnerable to control the booming pet populations. Making unnecessary exceptions, said Dr. Weir, ask for trouble.

“Trying to keep track of individual animals that are going outside unchanged and then making sure their owners are performing this sterilization really becomes a management nightmare for a shelter. And then it will too, what if they say they just won’t? Are you really going to go in and take the animal back? ”Explained Dr. Weir.

From the point of view of the shelter, the policeman and the dog were an almost ideal match. He had experience with the breed and, perhaps more importantly, Ortega said, they expected this to be the last time they would see the animal. However, she said the second intact permit worried her.

“That bothers me,” she said. “I only knew that afterwards.”

Xyra is not taken by the city, which remains understaffed and overcrowded in both accommodations.

While the staff at the shelter would have known that Saavedra was a police officer, he was apparently not acting in an official capacity. Albuquerque police did not comment on this story.

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