I was one of those people who couldn’t stand to go to “the pound” because I was haunted and overwhelmed by the number of animals and knowing that many of them wouldn’t get out alive.
When Albuquerque elected a new mayor in October of 2009, I applied to work for that mayor, as public administration has been my career path in recent years. I was interested in various positions, but the new mayor thought I would be a good fit as Director of the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department because of my experience running public agencies combined with my service on the board of the local private humane society, Animal Humane/New Mexico.
I resisted that idea because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to deal with the heartache of so many animals I couldn’t help and presiding over the death of thousands of helpless animals a year (10,367 in 2009). But the mayor-elect was persistent and I agreed to take the position, which I did December 1, 2009.
My saga is an interesting one, full of the anticipated heartache, but also full of unexpected joy and satisfaction over the transformation we were able to achieve in the 6 years of my tenure as Director of the Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department.
When I left the position in November of 2015 we had reduced the euthanasia rate by an incredible 77%, which will no doubt remain the highlight of my career, regardless of what I do next.
It was indeed the best of jobs, and the worst of jobs, but definitely the most rewarding professional experience I can imagine.