Flagler Humane Society: Talks about Challenges, Rewards, Inspiration and Goals

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I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Executive Director Amy from the Flagler Humane Society.  We spent some time talking about what they do at the Humane Society, some of their current struggles, some of the rewarding aspects of the job, the inspiration that keeps the staff and volunteers coming back, and learning about some of their current and long term goals they have. Below you can read the conversation that transpired between us as Amy answered our questions.

Executive Director Amy and Chloe Copyright Flagler County Buzz

What would you say is currently your biggest challenge at the Humane Society today? Amy answered, “It kind of changes because this can be such a crazy place, but right this minute, getting animals adopted. Animals are coming in a lot faster than they are getting adopted. The last two months we have ended the month with 50 animals more than what we started the month with. That can’t keep happening. People are having to surrender animals a lot, I think the economy is a lot to blame for that. But then adoptions, even though we do adoption specials and promotions, we had the “senior prom”, all the older dogs were dressed up like they were going to the senior prom, so adoption fees were like $25 bucks, and the adoptions aren’t happening anywhere near as fast as they are coming in. So that is our biggest challenge right this minute.”

What is the most rewarding thing about being part of the Humane Society, if you had to pick one aspect of the job, what is the best part of it? “Probably taking a scared dog like Chloe, like sometimes we see animals that have been through so much, they are just shut down or they are acting aggressive because they’re scared; so it’s taking a super, super scared dog and then turning it into a lap dog. You know, just seeing them, seeing their confidence grow, seeing that transformation, so if I had to pick one thing, I would do that all day. Never go to my desk, just do that, just hang out with dogs, ” said Amy.

What would you say is your biggest goal here at the Humane Society? Current Goal? Long term goals? Amy replied, “I definitely want to expand our services, and I hate to say because I don’t know if we will be able to make it happen, but I would to extend our hours. We are looking at extending our hours, because right now we close at 5pm and we are open seven days a week, so we are still accessible to people, but I wonder if we stayed open till 7pm if that would help people be able to come see the animals after they got off of work. So like I said, I’m hesitant to say it because I don’t know if we will be able to do it, cause it is going to cost money, staff and stuff, but I would love to extend our hours.  Big goals, I would just like to have Flagler Humane Society offer, everything that you need for your pets, like a Walmart SuperCenter of pet needs, you know. If we could ever expand and have dog grooming, and you know offer more services like, boarding kennels. I would love to just offer everything, so that no matter what somebody needed for their pet, we could help them.”

What are some of your biggest events that you put on every year to help support the organization and it’s potential growth? “We just had our annual SPAYghetti dinner that was up at the Coldwell Barn, and that was real fun”, replied Amy. She went on to say, “People had a good time, we have a golf tournament every December, it is at Grand Haven usually.  Those are both pretty good, pretty big fundraisers. We have a lot of little ones too, but those are our two big ones.”

What are some of the best ways the community can come together to help support the Flagler Humane Society? Amy responded, “We have a Humane Hero sustained giving program where people sign up and pledge or put it on their card, like the 1st of every month they give $20 bucks or something like that. So the more Humane Hero’s we have signed up, that is kind of money we can budget for, so we can count on that. So the Humane Hero program is big, and with that we have little perks like discounts at our thrift store, t-shirts, that kind of thing. So Humane Hero is a wonderful way that the public can help. But alot of coming to our events, following our Facebook, watching our tik tok videos, sharing Facebook posts and support. When I know we have the public support then I know that we can do things just knowing that we have that.  A few years ago there was a bad fire out in the county, I don’t know how long you’ve been here, but there was a fire in our west county and our animal control officer got sent out cause there were dogs that were trapped. There were two big dogs that got burned pretty bad, and the owners were no where to be found. He called me from the car and he said ‘These dogs are burned bad, like what do I do?’ Well I know our supporters would want us to get them help like right away; they were burned bad enough that I think he was thinking like, ‘do we euthanize these dogs to stop their suffering or what do we do?’ I said, ‘Our supporters would want us to get them help’. We took them to Flagler Animal Hospital, and it was thousands of dollars, but I knew that if I had a chance to ask people like what do you want us to do, they would have said ‘get them the help, we will help’, you know. So we did, and just knowing that we have that public support we’re able to do those things, and then ask for the support, like we don’t have to try to raise every penny first.”

What do you hope to inspire in the community with this organization? “Definitely we want people to be kind, we want people to be kind pet owners, spay and neuter, that has been our message, I have been doing this since 1985 and that has been our message since then; we have a message on the back of our van that says follow me to get neutered. We want to inspire people to be better pet owners, to be responsible pet owners, to keep your pets inside, don’t chain your dog, you know, just be good to your animals,” Amy said.

How do the the volunteers and the animals inspire you? Amy said, “Oh, that is a cool question; I think it’s like you wake up in the morning and you can’t wait to come to work, and I am super blessed to have a job like that, not everybody has that kind of job where you just want to be here, I would be here if I won the lottery. And it is because of this kind of silliness. Three weeks ago you couldn’t touch Chloe, you know, and so it’s that. And you know the volunteers that are here working without any compensation. There is a man who walks the dogs here and he takes them out to teach them agility and the dogs are having so much fun.  So I just love watching him, you know.” Chloe the dog, took this time to climb up onto Amy’s lap, asking for attention and affection; to which Amy asked her, “Are you inspiring us? That’s a pretty heavy title!” “I always like when I am hiring new people, I’ll say, ‘We don’t make much money here but we do make a difference’. That’s kind of the line.”

What is one statement you would like to share with the community in general, about the Humane Society, the work you do here? Amy said, “I would love to just invite everyone to just come out and see us. Ask for a tour, we will take you in the back, come see us and learn about what humane societies do. Sometimes people can think we are either a horrible place that just kills animals, or all we do is just come to work and play with puppies. I would like more people to come and see the work we do. Our doors are always open. Come to us if you need something for your pet, we can try to help.”

Executive Director Amy and Chloe Copyright Flagler County Buzz

The Humane Society is always looking for the public support, and if this is an organization that you feel drawn to help, you can find out more at: https://flaglerhumanesociety.org/

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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