LOS LUNAS — The Valencia County Animal Shelter is undergoing some changes following the appointment of new shelter supervisor, Derrick Saiz.

Derrick Saiz
New VC shelter supervisor

Previous shelter supervisor and transfer coordinator, Patty Mugan, decided to step-down as supervisor to focus her full attention on transfer coordination to improve rescue efforts.

According to the shelter’s Facebook post, the shelter recognizes the need for a more dedicated effort in saving the lives of animals. As a result of that change, Saiz, who has served many years as lead officer in the field, has been appointed as animal control officer/shelter supervisor.

Saiz said he feels prepared for the new role through working closely with Mugan for many years and being involved in many of the day-to-day operations of the shelter.

Since his appointment on March 6, Saiz said he’s been focusing on cleaning, organizing and decluttering the building.

“Since I’ve been here, we kind of floated in and out of everybody getting along. It’s hard when you deal with animals; there’s a lot of emotions,” Saiz said. “I want to bring everyone together by showing that everybody has their special part they play.”

Apart from bringing more unity to the team, Saiz hopes to reach out to new rescues to help get more animals out and to help make the animals who stay behind more comfortable.

“We’ve had a full house for a long time, so when we are packed like that it’s a little harder to pay attention to each individual animal,” he said.

It’s no secret an animal shelter can be a stressful environment to work in. Saiz navigates this by prioritizing the animals in their care and keeping an eye on the prize.

“When you get into working a job like this, it’s hard because you have to find a happy medium,” Saiz said. “You can’t fall in love too much, but you don’t want to go in the other direction either.

“It’s a new experience for every animal that comes in and I can’t let past experiences and things I’m dealing with affect them,” he said. “I’ve always taken pride in whatever we’ve done to make each animal as comfortable as they can be because at the end of the day it’s not about our emotions and feelings. Those are important, but you have to put the animals first.”

Saiz feels blessed to have the support from the county and employees as he settles into his new role. He also wants to see shelter staff get more recognition.

“I want to note how awesome our staff is. I couldn’t do anything without the help of all the employees here,” he said.

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Felina Martinez News-Bulletin Writer

Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.