Former Animal Welfare employee sues city for whistleblower firing

A former Albuquerque Animal Welfare employee claims she was fired for trying to protect the public, and now she’s suing the city.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday. Victoria Murphy insists she was fired for doing the right thing, but she doesn’t want money.

The Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department (AWD) has been under scrutiny for years. Several Inspector General investigations found the shelter and its former director, Barbara Bruin, in the wrong for adopting out dangerous dogs to families.

Now, a new lawsuit claims former Animal Welfare worker, Victoria Murphy, was fired for blowing the whistle on this dangerous practice.

Murphy said in 2014 she went to Bruin — who was her boss at the time — and the Inspector General’s office, concerned the shelter was adopting out dangerous dogs. Murphy said she was fired a week after speaking out. She claims the city violated the New Mexico Whistleblower Act, which protects employees from notifying authorities of wrongdoing.

“We don’t believe those dogs are fundamentally unsafe,” said Bruin in a 2015 interview.

In that interview, Bruin argued that dogs shouldn’t be put down or not adopted because they failed a behavior test.

“There’s always disagreements,” said Bruin in the 2015 interview. “But in these cases, the dogs were still, we felt, adoptable or could go to another rescue.”

Bruin stepped down soon after a city investigation in 2015 found she had, indeed, taken dogs labeled “dangerous” off the suggested kill list to adopt them out.

The lawsuit also lists former Animal Welfare employees who say they’ve also faced retaliation for speaking out against the shelter.

In a brief phone conversation with Murphy’s attorney, he said she just wants her voice to be heard.

The Animal Welfare department said it can’t comment on personnel matters. KRQE News 13 also called Murphy’s attorney but our calls weren’t returned.

Murphy is not asking for any money in the lawsuit, only asking for the shelter to admit that its practices have been unlawful. She also hopes to get her job back.

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