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Animal Welfare interim head gets permanent post

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Danny Nevarez will take over leadership of the city’s Animal Welfare Department in a permanent role as director, Mayor Tim Keller said Tuesday.

Danny Nevarez

Nevarez has served as acting director of the department for the past 60 days.

Keller also named Adam Ricci as chief of field operations, with a job description that involves establishing new initiatives to ensure humane treatment of animals throughout the city.

“The Animal Welfare Department has been in serious need of a solid leadership team to create an animal-friendly city here in Albuquerque,” Keller said in a statement. “Danny Nevarez and Adam Ricci are going to provide the one-two-punch we need: steady, experienced management and fresh out-of-state expertise to bring proven initiatives to our city. With their help, we will increase spay and neuter programs, find forever homes for more pets and step up efforts to fight animal abuse.”

Nevarez has served the city for 24 years in many departments, including the Albuquerque Police Department, the Budget Office and the Environmental Health Department.

He takes the permanent helm of a department that has had its share of controversies in recent years, ranging from accusations of a former associate director’s inappropriately transporting dogs to a rescue operation in Colorado and revelations of dangerous-dog adoptions to operating with a high number of vacant positions for field officers who respond to animal service calls. The department has since reduced the number of vacant field officer positions from 10 to three.

Nevarez said in an email that his primary mission is ensuring animals are safe and treated humanely. However, he also said he is working to cultivate a new environment among employees and volunteers.

“Having been the acting director for the last 60-plus days, some of the issues I am focusing on are to improve our culture, break down silos and to create alignment amongst staff and volunteers,” Nevarez said. “It is my strong belief that in order to provide the highest level of care for animals in the shelter and in the community, we must develop an environment within the shelter that shares a single definition of success.”

Ricci started his animal welfare career working for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland as a kennel technician and adoption counselor.

He serves on the National Animal Care and Control Association Board and the National Animal Rescue and Shelter Coalition.

“Albuquerque is a beautiful place, and I’m excited to bring my specific expertise and knowledge to this department,” Ricci said in a statement. “With my experience on national boards and expansive experience across the country, I’ll be working to implement proven programs and training that will protect animals in the city and encourage responsible pet ownership.”