ALBUQUERQUE. N.M (KRQE) – Albuquerque’s Animal Welfare Department says by next week, they’ll finally finish filling their animal control officer positions to help with more enforcement and citations for irresponsible pet owners.
The city managed to fill the positions by changing major requirements for the animal control officer positions. Because of that, it gave them a lot more candidates to work with.
“We got an influx of more officers coming off of training and providing more training elsewhere on how to go about investigations,” says Lt. Thomas Romero.
It’s no secret the Animal Welfare Department has been struggling to fill officer positions for some time. Back in January, the city told KRQE News 13 they only had 18-officers to handle the more than 30,000 calls for service they get a year.
Now, Lt. Romero says they had to change the qualifications for officer applicants in order to get more candidates. “Now we changed it to, if you have security background. If you have military background,” he says.
Romero says before, the job description asked applicants to have a law enforcement background and experience with handling animals. He says now, a main requirement they really want to see is if candidates have had pets of their own. So far, that’s made all the difference.
“We were able to have more people come in and apply with us. At that point, we’re finding things within them that we wouldn’t find with other candidates,” he says.
With the city clearing its backlog of nearly 2,300 calls for service in recent months and the addition of these new officers, Romero says they can now do a better job at enforcing and citing irresponsible pet owners across the metro.
“Now that we’ve learned kind of the new skills and we’re starting to do more division meetings and learning new things, we’re starting to now implement those into the field a lot more than the previous administrations that we’ve had,” says Lt. Romero.
Animal Welfare says they once had only 8-10 officers patrolling at a time. Starting next week, they will have 25.
The city says this summer, officers have been handing out citations to people failing to microchip, spay or neuter their pet, and leaving pets in a hot car.