where the writers are
Albuquerque Redux
Albuquerque Mayor, Martin Chavez, and Darlene Arden. Photo by Rick De Reyes

I've been thinking about my trip to Albuquerque last month. What stays in my mind isn't the sight of the Sandia Mountains, or the endless shopping centers, or Old Town, or the (relatively) cheap gas prices. What remains in my mind is how much progress has been made in their Shelter System. They have gone from a very bad shelter to a far more modern, clean facility. Two facilities, in fact. Their adoption rate has increased. Well animals aren't becoming sick because they have been thrown together with sick ones, a veterinarian is on board and brought in as the Animal Care Director is Jeanine Patterson. She didn't need the job. She already had a great one. A Registered Nurse, she was responsible for opening health clinics around the world for a major corporation. She took a pay cut for this job. When you love animals and care about their welfare, some things are more important than money.

This improvement is happening because the Mayor of Albuquerque, Martin Chavez, wants his city's shelters to be no-kill shelters. That doesn't mean that no animal ever dies. Obviously there will always be animals who are too sick or dangerous to be adopted out and the choice is difficult but necessary. But the number of dogs and cats put down has decreased dramatically.

I was fortunate enough to have a private meeting with Mayor Chavez while I was in Albuquerque. His shelter rescue dog, Dukes (Albuquerque is the Duke City), was in the Mayor's office. Dukes goes everywhere the Mayor goes. They're a team, a perfect vision of the human/animal bond. While I was there I presented him with a signed copy of my behavior book, "Rover, Get Off Her Leg!" I had presented one to Jeanine Patterson six days earlier when I visited the Shelter and met with her.

I keep thinking about the extra effort they've expended, bringing in a veterinarian from U.C. Davis who is an expert in Shelter Medicine to make suggestions and then having her return to look at the shelters again. She was pleased that they had incorporated all of her suggestions and approved of their changes.

The only thing missing at the moment is the right trainer or certified animal behavior consultant who can evaluate both the dogs and cats and train those suitable for adoption. I would love to see Karen Pryor's Clicker Training for Shelter Dogs and Cats programs put to use in Albuquerque. I'd like to see a group of volunteers trained to implement these programs and help with evaluations.

Speaking of volunteers, Kennel Kompadres is a volunteer group that raises funds for the shelters and implements humane education programs for children and adults. All donations made to Kennel Kompadres go to the shelters, not some slush fund that funnels the money to another project.

Albuquerque is an inspiration. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to see what they're doing, what is possible, and know that so much more lies ahead as they keep growing. It does my heart good.

Comments
2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Rover Get Off Her Leg

I tried to write a review of Rover... on you published works page, but couldn't unless I set up my own profile here. As I don't want to do that, I will review it here. You have given the common, every day dog owner a book that deals with, common every dog does it situations and you have done it with humor and easily understood language. "Rover Get Off Her Leg" deals with those embarrassing doggie behaviors and gives practical advice on how to deal with them. Your own voice clearly comes through in your new book. The cover did indeed attract attention everywhere I carried it and the title is wonderfully catchy. The illustrations are priceless and the personal anecdotes are the icing on the cake for this great little book. As one who works in rescue, I am recommending this book to all new and repeat rescue owners. Rover is definitely a book for all dog owners and I guarantee it will be useful and enjoyed by all.

Comment Bubble Tip

Thank you, Sue!

I truly appreciate your review!  It's one thing to write a book and put it out there; it's quite another to know how readers feel about it. I'm thrilled that you like it enough to recommend it to rescue and repeat rescue owners. I hope they find it useful and it helps them create a better bond with their dogs as well as instilling confidence in the dogs and helping make them better canine citizens.