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Police lieutenant to head animal shelter

Ben Godar

After a year-and-a-half search for a new Burbank Animal Shelter

superintendent came up empty, police officials decided to assign one

of their own to oversee the day-to-day operations of the facility.


Sgt. Bruce Speirs, the Burbank Police Department’s public

information officer, will be promoted to lieutenant Monday and begin

supervising the shelter shortly thereafter. Although police oversee

the facility, past directors have been civilians.


The department has been without a top administrator since longtime

Supt. Fred DeLange resigned in December 2001 to run the Glendale

Humane Society. Burbank Police Capt. Gordon Bowers has supervised the

shelter since January, when police said it became clear the

administrative void was adversely affecting operation of the shelter.

Several rounds of interviews for the position were conducted, and

a few candidates even advanced to a background check, but Bowers said

none were qualified for the job.


Since the job was first offered, the salary has been increased and

the qualifications modified to include not only those with animal

shelter experience but those with management experience. Still, no

one seemed to fit the bill.

In selecting Speirs for the position, Bowers said police officials

are appointing a candidate who exceeds the management qualifications


Speirs, a 27-year veteran of the department, was selected in part


because of his experience running the air support unit, which Bowers

said operates on its own budget like the animal shelter. That

independent operation is something Speirs said will be a challenge of

the new position.

“It’s like running your own small department,” he said. “Even

though we’re dealing with locking up dogs, we still have our own

facility, our own fleet and our own staff of personnel.”

Speirs said he plans to bring shelter operations in line with

police department standards. That kind of direction is something Eva

Sippel, president of the Burbank Animal Shelter Volunteers, said the

shelter needs.

“With any ship, if you don’t have a captain it’s difficult to find

your way,” Sippel said. “What we need is a captain to set the

direction we’re all headed toward.”

Sippel said Speirs is an excellent choice for the job.

“He’s action-oriented and he cares about animals,” she said. “He’s

a ‘let’s get it done’ kind of guy.”