City investigates animal transfers, euthanasia numbers
February 22, 2018 05:25 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The City of Albuquerque confirms it is investigating questionable animal transfers as well as misleading euthanasia numbers within the Animal Welfare Department.
Deb Brinkley has only been the associate director for the Animal Welfare Department for a year, but her LinkedIn suggests she’s worked for and helped operate the Colorado non-profit DMK Rehoming since 2008. A spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Agriculture said DMK Rehoming failed to renew its Pet Animal Care Facilities Act license in March 2017, one month after Brinkley accepted a position with the City of Albuquerque.
Even though DMK Rehoming's PACFA license expired, city animal transfer records reveal at least 28 dogs were sent to the shelter over a nine-month period. Though nonprofit disclosures reveal Brinkley reported $0 as her compensation, DMK Rehoming's website shows dogs and puppies cost anywhere from $50 to $250 to adopt.
After 4 Investigates notified the city of the questionable transfers, Mayor Tim Keller put Brinkley on administrative leave.
"The individuals who were leading the department are no longer leading the department," Keller said. “It's a big step in terms of changing direction."
At this time, it is not clear if Brinkley violated any city policy because the Animal Welfare Department regularly waives pet transfer fees for nonprofit shelters under the guise the nonprofits help the city adopt out animals. In a given year, approximately 1,400 animals are transferred from the city to various cat and dog shelters around the state.
Still, Keller said it is inappropriate for a city manager to transfer city property to a personal nonprofit or business.
"The city has this under investigation," Keller said. "They want to make sure and get a legal opinion on that first, but I can tell you as mayor it's a conflict of interest and it’s inappropriate and that's why I put her on administrative leave."
Another problem, Keller believes, is that the shelter’s euthanasia numbers are inaccurate because staff may have been inconsistently reporting them.
After the Albuquerque inspector general released his initial investigation into the Animal Welfare Department in the summer of 2017, the city hired a behavioral specialist to evaluate potentially dangerous dogs.
PDF: ABQ IG REPORT 2017
4 Investigates reached out to Brinkley and her attorney for comment and are waiting to hear back.
Just days after 4 Investigates aired a story disclosing a probe into her potentially inappropriate animal transfers, a statement was posted on DMK Rehoming's Facebook page stating "please do not believe the story that is going around about me and my rescue."
Allegations in the Animal Welfare Department have spanned over two mayoral administrations. In 2016, city invoices 4 Investigates obtained reveal the city hired a private investigator to interview shelter staff. One of the interviewees, former Director Paul Caster, resigned in December 2017.
Updated: February 22, 2018 05:25 PM
Created: February 22, 2018 08:09 AM
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