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
“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.”