I became committed to animal welfare issues when I developed a strong connection to my military working dogs during the Viet Nam era. My dogs and I spent many hours together patrolling the Philippine jungles; forming a trusting bond. I felt safer with my four-footed friends in the field than any of my two – footed friends.
The U.S. Customs Service gained an early release from the military for me, so that I could begin the phase of protecting the nation’s borders from drugs. My narcotics dogs and I were responsible for several large marijuana seizures at the Mexican Border.
I left federal service to earn a degree in Wildlife Resources. As a student, I started working as a part-time Animal Control Officer. Seeing the success of the program, the city asked me to work fulltime; thus, starting my animal welfare career.
I worked my way up in my career to become the director. In my role as director, I had the opportunity to oversee the largest animal control programs in four States and a Commonwealth; giving me opportunities to deal with animal issues in multiple cultures. I learned the value of maintaining good relationships with other animal rescue organizations and the media. My bond with animals caused me to change community dynamics to improve the plight of homeless animals. The goal of any animal shelter is to reduce euthanasia; this is performed by reducing the shelter’s intake of animal through community education and increasing pet adoptions through greater outreach efforts.
The highlight of my career was working for the ASPCA as the PetWhere Director. PetWhere was an animal shelter management system. I loved helping other animal shelters and felt such great personal reward when I restored corrupt data for shelters who thought they had lost their data. In this position, I came to realize that in order to be successful in the animal welfare profession; a person had to have a well-rounded knowledge base. I learned the frustration of tech support personnel who are dealing with people on the phone who do not know their left mouse button from their right. Technology now plays a very large role in the animal welfare profession as we have migrated toward social media to advertise the animals that we have available for adoption.