To improve and enhance the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter, Animal Shelter Ad-Hoc Committee Liaison James Robinson is offering several recommendations.
His suggestions are:
In the short term, or within a year, increase the shelter staff by two full time employees who will solely work in shelter operations and animal welfare. Furthermore, the Los Alamos Police Department, which manages the shelter, have its training budget enhanced to allow for the appropriate training. Also, establish metrics that can be presented to Council and associated Task Force. Formulize euthanasia documentation; establish partnerships with other County departments and local organizations and address easy infrastructure fixes at the shelter.
In the long term, or during the next two to five years, establish an animal shelter task force and build upon the existing volunteer pool. Finally, a transition plan for the shelter’s animal welfare and community outreach should be developed with the Community Services Department.
Los Alamos County Council will consider Robinson’s proposal during its Nov. 26 meeting.
Robinson said he believes this is the path that should be taken. The County should build on what already exists rather than creating a new department or making the shelter a transfer-only operation, he said.
“Let’s build on what we got … make policies and procedures that are more robust and keep our shelter open,” Robinson said. “That’s been my goal since the beginning.”
“Those animals belong to Los Alamos County,” he added. “Let’s make that time as least stressful as possible because being in a shelter is stressful.”
Things are not dire at the shelter; Robinson said the police department is doing a good job operating it.
“The police department runs a very good shelter but there’s always room for improvement,” he said.
Committee Chair Wendee Brunish agreed. It is a national trend, she noted, to move animal shelters away from police operations. More and more, shelters are offering enrichment programs for animals. This includes social living or putting two animals in a kennel and having play group activities.
“What we learned … is how stressful shelter environments are to animals, but we learned what is needed to mitigate that stress,” Brunish said; adding, “What people want and should get is a good companion animal.”
To ensure adopted pets are good companions, Brunish said it is necessary that shelter personnel are trained in programs that help reduce animal stress.
“Our police – they are dedicated and they work hard but they don’t have the understanding of how to reduce that stress,” she said.
Brunish said she feels Robinson’s recommendations will be beneficial to the shelter.
“We definitely think this will help the animals … We think it will benefit the public because they will get better animals,” she said.
The committee has been meeting since September 2018. Their scope of work was divided into two, six-month phases. The committee’s duties included:
- Consider other potential structures;
- Provide estimates of costs of potential organizational structures and compare those costs to the costs of the current operational structure;
- Recommend to Council as to what organizational structure would be best;
- Present a report to Council;
- Review policies and practices of the shelter; and
- Recommend policies and practices needed in the community.
Robinson commends the committee on its work and hopes his recommendations are approved.
“My hope is that we come to a resolution,” he said. “The council has had a great year and I hope we can add the animal shelter to our list of accomplishments.”