LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - This is Steven Greene’s second day as Lubbock Animal Services Director, but he said he started running the day to day operations months ago.
Greene began working for the City of Lubbock in August of 2013 as a field officer for Lubbock Animal Services. In June of 2015, Greene said he was promoted to lead officer.
In March, he became the interim field supervisor around the same time he applied for the director position, left vacant after the former director retired.
“It was a really intensive process,” Green said.
He said the application process included a questionnaire, a video interview and an on-site interview before the board made up of five panelists. The city announced in June it had narrowed the candidates list down to two people, Greene and April Moore.
Moore worked as the engagement manager for Austin Animal Services, a no-kill shelter.
As the panel worked to name a finalist, Greene said he was promoted to assistant director at the end of July.
“I’m just very passionate about this department. I’ve been here for the five years," Greene said. “It kind of gets in your blood, it kind of infects you and you just want to get out there and serve the people of Lubbock. You want to take care of the animals, and it’s just something I’m passionate and dedicated to.”
Greene attended the Austin Pets Alive! conference in Austin in February and the Best Friends Conference in Los Angeles in July where he said he learned innovative techniques he took back to Lubbock.
“The best thing you can do is start building end roads. You have to have community support," Greene said. “You have to have networks with regional and national rescue groups, you have to build your foster base and we’ve already implemented a lot of these ideas. We are going to continue to move forward.”
In January, the KCBD Investigates Team began looking into Lubbock Animal Services. The team learned over the past two years, the shelter had euthanized more than 16,000 animals.
The director at the time said overpopulation was a major problem. According to the documents the KCBD Investigates Team obtained, in 2016, the shelter took in more than 9,800 animals and euthanized nearly 75% of them.
KCBD compared that statistic to to other cities of similar size. Last year, the shelter in Amarillo euthanized nearly 33 percent of the roughly 12,400 animals it received.
Plano euthanized 12 percent of its 5,400 animals. Irving took in just more than 5,300 animals and euthanized 13 percent of them. Garland reported receiving 7,000 animals and euthanizing 22 percent of them.
While the majority of the animals the Lubbock shelter received were strays, the second highest intake number came from owner surrenders.
Last year, people turned more than 4,700 of their pets to the shelter; a place the former director said should be a last resort.
Greene said they have worked to change those statistics by changing intake policies and procedures. The times owners can surrender their animals have changed and Greene said staff meets those animals in the parking lot where a medical and behavioral evaluation is done.
Those animals are also vaccinated immediately.
“When I started, we had a limited amount of animals that were set for adoption," Greene said. “And what we have done now, because we have a building that is disease free, we have animals that are vaccinated. We now offer any animal in our building up for adoption.”
In March, the shelter reported a save rate of 52 percent. In June, July and August, the save rates were reported at above 90 percent.
Greene credits an increase social media presence, volunteers, foster resources, and rescue and transport partnerships with helping increase the save rate. The shelter now has a volunteer coordinator and hosts an orientation for volunteers twice a month.
The shelter has also increased off-site adoption events and started working with more foster and rescue groups.
“I want to reach out to everyone whether they’ve been critical of animal services, whether they’ve been very pro-animal services; I want all of those opinions. My door is always open, somebody can set a meeting with me," Greene said. "I would like the citizens to come out and meet me, the staff and tour the facility and find out what we are all about,” Greene said.
This week, Greene said he worked to establish a leadership team and will post his former assistant director position soon.
“You just have to have the entire community buy in, you can’t just do it with your department. When I’m fully staffed, I have 24 staff members and we run 365 days a year and you just can’t do it without the community being involved,” Greene said.
The next event on the calendar is tomorrow, Sept. 22. The Furry 500 will provide free microchips and vaccinations to 500 cats and dogs.
The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center parking lot.