Inspector General report finds inconsistencies within Animal Welfare Department

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An anonymous tipster is accusing the city’s Animal Welfare Department of trying to cover up the number of animals euthanized at the shelters. The Inspector General’s Office investigated and says it all comes down to bad bookkeeping.

It started with an anonymous letter sent to the IG’s Office in September. The letter claimed then-Animal Welfare Director, Danny Nevarez, and Operations Manager, Joel Craig, were “defrauding the citizens of Albuquerque,” by deleting animals from the system that were put down.

The anonymous tipster claimed that’s the reason why the city’s kill rates have been at an all-time low. “Again we have Nevarez and Joel Craig involved in sort of decision-making within the department and leading to more questions,” says Thomas Grover.

Grover represents former director, Deb Brinkley, who sued Craig, claiming he helped remove her from her position. With this recent investigation, Grover says he’s not surprised by the department’s disorganization.

“To Deb, it just validates her concerns and criticism that there’s inaccurate numbers regarding the actual euthanasia rates regarding the animals taken in by AWD,” said Grover.

The IG’s office did not find any proof to show the tipster’s allegations were true. What investigators did find was a number of animals were unaccounted for.

Records of three animals were deleted from the system in 2018 and 2019, and the IG’s Office says they tried to ask Nevarez and Craig why. They never got a response.

The report goes on to say the system the department has been using to document animals is inconsistent, making it unclear what animals come in and out. Still, the results of this report don’t sit well for Brinkley and her attorney.

“It requires further investigation. I don’t think the conclusion of the report exonerates Nevarez nor the department,” says Grover. Following the investigation, a city spokesperson says they are actively making changes to their system to make sure the shelters’ data stays consistent.

The city says Nevarez stepped down as director last month, but it’s unclear why. Just this past summer, Animal Welfare announced it reached a no-kill status for being able to save 90% of the animals that come into the shelter.

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