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          Front Page




Good News for Critters

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer
    Adoptions are up and euthanasia is down, according to the city's new Animal Welfare Department.
    Adoptions and other "live exits" from Albuquerque shelters were up 14 percent during a recent three-month period, compared with those months last year, the department said. Euthanasia, meanwhile, dropped about 19 percent.
    The figures cover September, October and November— the first three months after the mayor hired new leadership for the program.
    Jeanine Patterson, who now heads the department, said the city established medical-isolation areas and has taken other steps to prevent the spread of disease in its shelters. Improved marketing and volunteer programs have helped to encourage adoptions, she said.
    Mayor Martin Chávez said it was a remarkable "turnaround in just a couple of months."
    The program was the focal point of a fight between the City Council and the mayor earlier this year. Critics, including Councilor Sally Mayer, said the leadership change was unjustified and that councilors should have been involved in the decision to make animal welfare a stand-alone department.
    Mayer said the animal numbers have "a lot of room for manipulation."
    "If they're truly up with adoption and down with euthanasia, that's wonderful," she said Wednesday. "But their euthanasia numbers dropped so drastically, I find it hard to believe."
    The city released the euthanasia and adoption numbers Wednesday after a Journal request. A spreadsheet shows:
   
  • Cat adoptions climbed about 62 percent, from 663 in 2006 to 1,077, during the three months.
       
  • Dog adoptions inched up from 1,331 to 1,405— a 6 percent increase.
       
  • Overall "live exits" climbed about 14 percent, from 3,057 to 3,495.
       
  • Euthanasia dropped 19 percent, from 3,913 to 3,163.
        Patterson said she also expects the city to finish the year with more live exits than euthanasia deaths for the first time ever.