ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque's Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry used his position to gain an "unfair advantage" when adopting animals that kennel employees considered "unavailable," according to a report conducted by the city's former Office of Inspector General.
In a report about mismanagement at the city's Animal Welfare Department, the OIG wrote Perry visited the shelter with his family as a private citizen to adopt a dog. While there, Perry wanted to see two other dogs who a kennel worker said was unavailable. According to the report, dogs are considered unavailable when they appear to have owners and are kept away from other animals and the general public for a few days in case the rightful owner returns.
When Perry was told the dogs were unavailable, he called Animal Welfare Director Barbara Bruin, gave the kennel worker his cellphone, and told her, "it was her boss" on the phone.
"I said, 'Can I pet the animal?' And the lady said, 'Well, because of liability purposes, we're careful about that,'" Perry said. "I said, 'I'm a city employee,' and I called the director."
Bruin told the employee it was OK to allow Perry to pet the dogs, even though the worker said it was against department policy.
"When I made an exception, that made (the kennel worker) uncomfortable, but it all worked out for the best for the animal," Bruin said.
Perry put a priority hold on the two dogs and took them home after the three-day waiting period was up, which is per department rules.
KRQE News 13 asked Perry if he was able to pet the animals even though they were unavailable because of his position.
"That's the allegation," Perry said. "Of course, I run the entire city, and I can go to the zoo and pet animals at the zoo and otherwise."
When KRQE News 13 asked if it was an improper use of his position, being able to do things that private citizens may not be able to, Perry disagreed.
"I would think it's utterly ridiculous to assert that's improper," Perry said. "I regret nothing because I was able to give two dogs that otherwise probably wouldn't have been adopted a home."
The OIG wrote in his report that "the issue was that the CAO (Perry) went to the shelter, as a private citizen, to look and possibly adopt dogs but at some point, he took off his citizen hat and put on his CAO hat and caused an employee to violate a policy she had been instructed about."
No formal written policy exists, Bruin told KRQE News 13. But she said it is a widely adopted "word-of-mouth rule" that most employees follow and are trained to follow. Bruin said exceptions are made to the rule all the time.
"The kennel workers and kennel supervisors are enforcing it on a case-by-case basis, what's best for that person and that pet," Bruin said.
Bruin said there are no plans to turn the verbal policy into written policy.
The OIG report, completed at the end of 2012, was never fully released to the public because it was never approved by the Accountability Government Oversight Committee, the group that oversees the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Internal Audit.
Chairman Gerald Kardas told KRQE News 13 he did not consider the report to be "invalid" or "inaccurate," but he said it did not fall under the OIG's purview of investigating fraud, waste and abuse. Because the issues were procedural and operational, it was forwarded on to the Office of Internal Audit for further review.
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