Midland Animal Services shifts management, promises change amid criticism

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:57 PM CDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - Midland Fire Chief Charles Blumenauer promised to solve an array of issues that came to a head at the Midland Animal Services Board meeting Monday afternoon.

On social media and in meetings, Midland Animal Services has been engulfed in controversy this summer. In his new role as managing director, Blumenauer promises change.

Public comment also featured concerns about euthanization standards, understaffing, protocols, employee discipline and more.

“Your fire department is an ISO 1 class fire department,” Blumenauer said. “We’re the best. We offer citizens the best fire service you can get. I don’t know what the correlating standard for an ISO 1 animal shelter is, but we’re going to meet that.”

That promise for new high standards brought applause from about 65 Midlanders in a meeting that announced the chief’s new hat. The meeting also covered the investigation into Luna’s death, the dog who was mistakenly euthanized before her owner could pick her up.

MORE: Update: City of Midland to investigate animal death

One Midlander said these incidents, and the daunting stray population in the area, is a crisis. The foster and animal advocate says she still has hope.

“This is an organization where protocols and things are supposed to be in place and they found that they were not,” Carrie Powell said. “So things have to get better. we’re going to continue speaking up for these animals.”

MORE: Alleged animal cruelty in Midland leads to angry residents

So far, the city has announced two investigations into animal deaths. Rescue Fix West Texas also sounded the alarm on a wounded dog they pulled from the shelter last month.

Rescues and animal advocates alike were present at the meeting. One was Carrie Powell, president of Midland Cat Wranglers.

“I really hope that the committee will take into account what the concerns are and actually let’s see some action about it,” Powell said. “Because a lot of times they make promises they don’t follow through with, so I’m hoping with the fire chief in charge now maybe we’ll see some positive changes.”

MORE: Midland rescue says 2 dogs unnecessarily euthanized, city responds

Blumenauer promised more cross training among employees, revamped standard operating procedures and to sit down with all rescues to hear their concerns. He says the shelter can’t run without those animal advocates.

“The meeting today with the citizens… kind of let them come to us with their concerns, us being able to address them and to let them know change is coming and it’s going to be positive change and we’re going to be better,” Blumenauer said.

Board members expressed faith in new leadership, who they say can bring new solutions and perspectives. These new leaders include Blumenauer, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and Animal Services Director Melissa Griffin Hobson

The next animal services board meeting is set for November. Officials said that progress in animal services would be announced at that time.

CBS7 will continue to follow this story.