James Flores has been promoted to assistant director of the City’s Neighborhood and Family Services Department, responsible for managing the Animal Services and Code Compliance divisions. Among the changes he has overseen to date at the Animal Shelter are a dramatic reduction in euthanasia, an expedited adoption process for rescue groups, and weekly opportunities for volunteers to walk shelter dogs.

Flores’ promotion is part of a departmental reorganization intended to improve Animal Services’ operational effectiveness and customer service. The Animal Services Division operates the Animal Shelter at 3142 U.S. Highway 67 North, investigates animal bites and allegations of animal cruelty, and picks ups stray and dead animals. The division in October was shifted to the Neighborhood and Family Services Department, whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life in San Angelo neighborhoods.

Among the changes Flores and Neighborhood and Family Services Director Bob Salas have instituted to date:

  • No adoptable animals will be euthanized without allowing a recognized rescue group the chance to adopt or place the animal in a foster home. An ad hoc panel meets weekly to review the list of animals in the shelter before any action is taken. No adoptable animal has been euthanized since Flores instituted this process on April 9.
  • Recognized and reputable rescue groups are allowed to adopt unsterilized pets, with the agreement the group will spay or neuter the pet. This allows for quicker adoptions and reduces the chances of an adoptable animal contracting an illness in the shelter.
  • The shelter is closing its outside drop-off kennels to stop irresponsible surrenders. A new process will require those surrendering animals to provide identification. Those people will no longer be eligible to adopt animals from the shelter.
  • Animal Services is facilitating volunteer-led dog walks each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., which allows the dogs to get some exercise while their kennels are cleaned.
  • Animal Services has been reorganized to provide better oversight of its two key functions: animal control and the shelter. Toby Allen has been named animal control officer supervisor, responsible for managing animal control operations. Robert Diaz has been named shelter supervisor, with a focus on the animals’ health and well-being from their initial assessments to their medication to their nutrition.

Most of the changes have been made after consultation with and input from rescue and volunteer groups that are engaged with the shelter.

“I’ve never worked so hard nor enjoyed my job more,” Flores said. “Our team couldn’t be more committed to transforming the Animal Shelter into an inviting place that nurtures animals and delivers a level of customer service that results in raving fans. Everyone stands to benefit from this effort: the community, our staff and, most importantly, the animals we’re caring for.”

Among other Animal Services issues Flores and Salas are also researching and addressing are:

  • Improving the shelter’s air quality.
  • Constructing an in-processing building to keep separate sick and healthy animals.
  • Replacing the floor and installing a noise reduction system in the kennel area.
  • Building outside kennels and a dog run where dogs can run in an enclosed area.
  • Developing a robust volunteer program.

“I love being an agent of change,” Salas said. “While we’re gratified with the progress we’ve made thus far, we’ve still got leagues to go before we can say we’ve arrived. Fortunately for us, we’ve got the right man for this job in James Flores. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more tireless servant or a better deliverer of customer service.”

While Flores, who previously served as the manager of the Code Compliance Division, will continue to oversee that division, newly named Code Compliance Supervisor Rudy Ibarra will manage Code Compliance’s day-to-day operations. Code Compliance enforces City ordinances regarding the health, safety and aesthetics of San Angelo's neighborhoods. The most common violations it investigates relate to illegal watering, high weeds and grass, junked vehicles, unsightly debris and illegal dumping.