Complaint: City released dangerous dogs to community

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) –  Albuquerque’s animal shelters are under fire, accused by workers of knowingly adopting out dangerous dogs. The Animal Welfare Department Director responded to the claims, and said there will be changes made.

Two employees filed complaints with the city’s Inspector Generals Office about the problem. Animal Welfare Director, Barbara Bruin, told KRQE News 13, some the claims just aren’t true, but she also decided some questionable dogs are going to have to wait to find new homes.

More than 200 dangerous dogs left Albuquerque animal shelters last year, after failing a national behavioral test, according to the second-in-command at Animal Welfare, Jim Ludwick.

“That’s scary to think you’re going to take home a good animal, and there’s a chance that they might be dangerous,” said Megan Barney, who was looking to adopt a dog Tuesday.

Ludwick, along with Behavioral Analyst, Carolyn Hidalgo took concerns to the Inspector Generals Office for investigation. The employees said Bruin knowingly released dogs into the community that have showed aggression toward people or pets.

“This has created risk, especially for small pets and children, and in some cases there has been real harm,” said Hidalgo, in her complaint.

“We don’t believe those dogs are fundamentally unsafe,” Bruin told KRQE News 13 Tuesday. She argued the behavior test, created by the ASPCA, shouldn’t dictate if a dog deserves to die. She said the shelter works with dogs, and communicates with each family to try and find a good fit for each animal.

“There’s always disagreements in these cases,” Bruin explained. “The dogs were still, we felt, adoptable or could go to another rescue.”

But complaints against her, claim those disagreements have put the public in jeopardy. Ludwick cited a little girl, who was attacked last year by a dog adopted from the shelter. He said that dog had already bit a man, and killed a small dog.

In another instance, Ludwick pointed to a pit bull named ‘Pappy,’ that was adopted out, “despite a history of aggression and repeatedly failing behavioral tests.” He said the dog was slated for euthanasia, then taken off the list by Bruin. Pappy later killed a smaller dog.

“There have been mistakes, there have been things that have gone wrong that we could have never have predicted,” Bruin said.

Bruin also told KRQE News 13, “Any dog that’s people aggressive is immediately put down. We try to give a dog every chance to get out alive if we believe it’s a good dog,” she added. “But ultimately we have to make some heartbreaking decisions.”

Bruin explained there’s no way to predict each case, and said adoption success stories outweigh the bad ones.

Still, the investigation has potential pet owners concerned. “I have some grandchildren and I wouldn’t want a dangerous dog around them,” said Laura Garcia.

Another pet owner, Marian Spindler, told KRQE News 13 if the city fails to euthanize a dangerous dog, “all they’ve done is create a problem for someone else.”

For now, Bruin said the shelters have put a temporary moratorium on adopting out any dogs that have failed a portion of the behavior test. She said those dogs will be re-tested by an outside party before deciding if they’ll be euthanized.

Hidalgo put in her two weeks notice, citing in her complaint that she’s “uncomfortable working with Ms. Bruin in an environment where unethical and unsafe practices have become the norm.”

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