ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When it comes to spay-neuter programs at its Eastside Animal Shelter, city documents show that Albuquerque is not living up to its promise – or promises to taxpayers. Instead, it has cannibalized what was supposed to be a second surgical suite and turned it into a million-dollar, taxpayer-funded storage closet and break room.
Back in 2007, Albuquerque voters approved more than $5 million in bond funding to rebuild the Eastside Animal Shelter, including a larger surgical center for spay and neuter operations. The state kicked in another million bucks specifically for spay-neuter. And seven years later, in 2014, Mayor Richard Berry signed a resolution on city goals that included “continue to ramp up the spay-neuter program … which would include opening the second surgical suite of our Eastside Animal Shelter.”
Yet, in 2016, the two rooms labeled on the city blueprint as a second surgical suite for the East Side shelter are being used as storage closets and a break room. The former head of Animal Welfare says the rooms were not designed with sufficient recovery space to be used for surgeries, the acting director recently told the City Council there was never going to be a second surgical suite, and the five veterinarians on staff performed around 13,000 spay-neuter procedures in fiscal 2016 when an ASPCA letter to the city gives national metrics that the total should be more than double that.