When Peggy Weigle interviewed me in late 2006, she asked me what I was looking for. I told her I was looking for a place where I could make a difference, a position that challenged me, and a chance to see the impact of my work, combined with others, right before my eyes.
As I inch toward my 1st year anniversary as Executive Director of Animal Humane, I see more clearly what we accomplish together each day. Our 2016 Fiscal Year statistics reached amazing heights: from rehoming 4,134 pets and achieving a 93% Live Release Rate, to treating over 4,200 owned pets in our campus Donor-subsidized Veterinary Clinic — so that each is healthy and spending the holidays with their owners — to inspiring our youth with life-changing lessons through nearly 9,000 hours of valuable instruction, and reaching $809,975 in sales at our Thrift Shop. All of these achievements were only made possible with your support!
In addition to our shared accomplishments, what continues to impress me most is the variety of ways that pets arrive at our shelter — the unique circumstances that surround each — and how our team stands at the ready to respond to the needs of these pets, their owners and in some cases, the advocates for each of these cats and dogs.
We met Nemo at the Valencia County Animal Shelter during a Project Fetch transfer. Nemo was initially so fearful we had to carry him outdoors. Our Behavior Team saturated him with enrichment activities and introduced him to playgroups. And it was his natural curiosity (and high-value treats) that helped Nemo gain confidence and graduate from our Behavior Modification program in 10 short days. During this time, he went from pancaking on the floor in fear to seeking interactions from our team to discovering the joys of being a dog! And two short weeks later, Nemo left our shelter to go live his new life with a loving family.
Jiffy Pop’s journey took a twist when a kind and concerned Albuquerque citizen trapped him and drove him to our shelter. Upon arrival, we quickly determined that Jiffy Pop had ringworm and was immediately introduced to our Animal Care Supervisors, Yuri Pryor & Armando Vargas. These talented Team members have successfully treated 100+ felines since our Feline Ringworm Treatment Ward opened in June 2014 thanks to a generous gift by Sandy Gold. “Since Jiffy Pop was a stray, initially he was fearful of being handled. But several weeks into his treatment, he blossomed. He approached the front of his cage and waited expectantly for food, as well as his bi-weekly Lyme Sulphur baths. He tolerated the baths very well, and after 17 dips over 2½ months, Jiffy Pop was released as a well-socialized and friendly kitty,” says Yuri. Mr. Pop was adopted 30 days later!
In January 2014, I had the privilege of introducing a 98-year-old dog lover to five shelter dogs, in the hopes that one would become her perfect companion. Each dog was expertly selected by our Behavior Manager, Trevor Driggs, and a private room was set up for introductions. We only made it to “dog #3” before the selection process came to a halt and the oldest adopter in our history quickly left with Fido — a sweet, black 4-year-old Chihuahua. The two bonded instantly.
This past summer, Fido was returned to our care as his owner, now 100½, was nearing the end of her life. When her conservator who had reached out to me in 2014 emailed saying, “It’s time for Fido to come back to you,” I said, “Name the day and time and we’ll be ready.”
Two weeks later Fido was successfully re-homed, again, and nothing brings me more joy than knowing he brought tremendous comfort and companionship to his owner during the last 2 ½ years of her life and that this holiday Fido will be ringing in the New Year with another loving family!
From transfer partners we collaborate with year-round, and good Samaritans who take the time to rescue pets, and families who need us, homeless cats and dogs enter our Circle of Care for many reasons. And each receives quality care and loads of love from our team every single day!
So during this season of giving thanks — I thank you, our magnificent donors, along with our volunteers, staff and Board of Directors — for making these stories, and thousands more, possible this year at Animal Humane. I sincerely look forward to saving and impacting more lives with each of you in 2017.
Wishing you & yours a joyous holiday season,
Donna M. Stumpf