Animal Welfare eliminates calls for service backlog

The mayor’s office held a news conference Tuesday celebrating what they call major improvements in the Animal Welfare Department, but it’s still unclear if their new approach to dealing with negligent animal owners is working.

The mayor rode along with animal control officers before announcing what he thinks is the key to a turnaround in the department.

“In the last year, Animal Welfare has eliminated our officer shortage. We are now 100-percent full,” Keller explained.

He said that extra staffing has helped eliminate a two-year backlog of approximately 2,300 calls for service for anything from animal cruelty tips to reports of stray pets.

The department said now there are 22 field officers, up from 18 in January, who respond to about 30,000 calls a year.

In some cases now, officers will not cite a pet owner, but might offer a voucher to get it spayed or neutered, or give them time to fix a fence where dogs keep escaping.

“Over the last six months, we’ve actually been seeing a decrease in the calls for service that we’ve been receiving. So it illustrates the changes we’ve made in responding out is actually reducing calls and making the public safer,” Chief of Field Operations Adam Ricci said. 

The news conference follows a KRQE News 13 report in January revealing Animal Welfare citations to negligent pet owners were down 40-percent in Keller’s first year in office. KRQE News 13 asked how many citations have been given since January, but no one could provide an answer.

Animal Welfare said its priority is tracking response times, which is down from an hour to about 20 minutes.

The department also announced its save rate is up to 90-percent over the past year. That’s the number of animals that are being adopted, reclaimed or transferred to another facility.

Animal Welfare could not give a total number of animals that had been euthanized.

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