A Day In The Life Of A Shelter Worker

by Debbie Wolfe
When you think about Animal Control shelters, is it negative?
Animal control shelters get an unfair reputation - some people think that it’s where unwanted, problem dogs go to be euthanized.
If you call your local animal control office when you see a stray dog hanging around the neighborhood, you just see a man or woman and a truck... There’s more to your local animal control shelter than just catching stray dogs and cats.

Since being involved in a dog rescue organization, I’ve learned a lot about how an animal control shelter works. They are not just people who will take your dog if they get out of the yard. Animal shelter workers are puppy and kitty lovers who try their best to educate the community about pet population control and help homeless pets find a new home. I sat down with Katie Shipman, an Adoption/Rescue Coordinator for Paulding County Animal Control - a friend of mine who I met through the animal rescue group with both volunteer with to find out more about a day in the life of a shelter worker.
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Tell me a little about yourself.

My name is Katie Shipman. I am the Adoption/Rescue Coordinator for Paulding County Animal Control. I am about to have my second anniversary with the county. I have been in the rescue world for about four years through volunteering for Angels Among Us Pet Rescue and previously volunteering at Animal Control. I am actually third generation in the Animal Welfare world. My great uncle was badge number 8 for the ASPCA when they focused on the treatment of horses in NYC.

I currently have two personal dogs. Domino, a  Border Collie/GSD mix, adopted at 8 weeks from Paulding AC who’s now an 8 year old and Max (adopted from a rescue in Savannah, GA), a 6 year old Boxer/Lab mix. I have a 4 year old daughter, Kristyn and a wonderful Husband, Kevin. I have lived with dogs since I was 3 years old. My first pup was a Lhasa Apso named Jingles. She was my best friend and was so beautiful. We lost her too young to West Nile when we lived in New York.

How do you start your typical day at the shelter?

A typical day for me varies. I wear many hats and never know what I will walk into. I typically walk through the kennels to check on the animals and talk with kennel technicians to discuss the needs of pets in the shelter.

What do you do as the adoption coordinator?

Not only do I concentrate on getting pets adopted or into non-profit groups, I also concentrate community outreach.I help with fundraising for vet care for citizens who cannot afford to treat their pets, explore spay/neuter grants, education, offsite events, school appearances, etc. I am always trying to expand relationships to benefit the pets and humans of Paulding County.

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As the adoption coordinator, what's your main goal each day?

My main goal for each day is to help at least one animal per day. I always hope to change more than that, but can sleep at night knowing one is in a better position.

What's the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is not being able to save every pet. Or, not be able to assist a citizen in a situation they have reached out for help with.

How do you handle the difficult cases (aggressive dogs, abused dogs,injured dogs)?

It is not easy dealing with difficult cases. The abused, neglected, and injured break all of our hearts. It is important to concentrate on the future of that pet rather than where it has been. We humans can learn so much from pets in that aspect.  Aggressive animals upset us too—what has caused them to be like this?

How many dogs come through your shelter each year? What are some of the reasons they arrive there that we may not realize?

We typically see about 2,200-2,500 dogs per year here in Paulding County Animal Control. The most common reasons dog end up in shelters is not being spayed or neutered. A wondering nose gets dogs lost. The second most common thing would be the owner is moving and cannot take with them because of high pet deposit fees.

More On Z Living: VIDEO: Tell Us Why You're Thankful For Your Dog!

What qualities make for a good adopting home/family?

The most important quality of being a good pet parent is patience. The ability to understand what a new shelter pet needs to be successful is so important.

What is your favorite memory of working at the shelter?

I have lots of happy memories from working here. We love seeing long-timers find the perfect fit. We also love when they come back to visit to see how their lives have changed.

What do you want others to know about animal control shelters?

Working in an Animal Control is not easy. We constantly try to educate the public on what we try to do. We are not the bad guys and hope to improve lives. We are here for the protection of pets and humans alike.

Many animal control shelters strive to work with the community.

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