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FARMINGTON — The past six months of day-to-day operations at the Farmington Animal Shelter have shown the remarkable resolve and dedication of shelter employees.

Faced with rising intake levels, inconsistent leadership and an aging, inadequate facility, officials say the shelter's staff has vastly improved the quality of care animals receive, jump-started the volunteer and foster care programs, and boosted the shelter's live release rate.

The Animal Services Advisory Commission held an emergency meeting Tuesday evening at the Farmington Civic Center. Marcy Eckhardt, animal shelter consultant and acting animal welfare director, highlighted shelter progress and showed where the shelter still needs improvement.

Marcy Eckhardt, animal shelter consultant and acting welfare director, speaks before the city of Farmington’s Animal Services Advisory Commission.
Marcy Eckhardt, animal shelter consultant and acting welfare director, speaks before the city of Farmington's Animal Services Advisory Commission. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

"We have a lot more animal carried forward to the next month," Eckhardt said. "Intake is a little lower than last month."

The shelter euthanized 265, or 29 percent, of the animals it took in during June, according to her report.

"That's significantly lower than last year at this time, but still up compared to earlier this year," Eckhardt said.

The shelter's most significant challenge is simply the number of animals coming in, she said. The influx of animals makes for a difficult, high-stress environment.

"It's a tough job," Eckhardt said. "Our day goes backwards like that. You have to find a way to compartmentalize, to have a thick skin."

Cory Styron, the city's director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, applauded the shelter and its staff for their work.

"We put a stake in the ground and did a 180-degree turn in February," he said.

Styron said he is working with city administration and with Eckhardt to revitalize and reorganize the shelter's staff before the move to the new Regional Animal Shelter later this year.

Interviews are expected to begin in the next two weeks for six full-time shelter employees, Styron said. The city is also searching for two part-time employees and one temporary position.

The city has contracted with Strategic Government Resources, a recruitment firm based in Keller, Texas, to complete the search for a new animal shelter director, he said.

"We're building a team, but it's taking time," Eckhardt said. "We have 20 to 40 animals coming in per day. We've improved the quality of care, but what we're dealing with is the nonstop influx. Those unweaned (kittens and puppies) need constant TLC."

Greg Yee covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and gyee@daily-times.com. Follow him @GYeeDT on Twitter.