Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New manager at Robeson NC promises ‘quick’ changes at pound

ST. PAULS — April Lowry knows she has some fences to mend and challenges to meet as she takes over management of the Robeson County Animal Shelter. But she also believes that she has what it takes to run the facility efficiently.

“I’ve run dog kennels all of my life,” said Lowry, who took over management of the shelter on Wednesday. “I’ve also run animal rescue operations.”

Lowry, 27, says she approached Bill Smith, director of the county Health Department, about becoming the shelter’s manager after former manager Jeff Bass asked to be transferred to another county department.

“I have a passion and love for animals,” she said. “I want to find as many homes for animals as I can.”

Lowry, a Robeson County native, takes over a shelter that has been criticized by animal rights activists as a facility where the staff routinely mistreats animals and makes it difficult for rescue groups and others to adopt animals. County health officials have charged her with the responsibility of implementing new polices that they believe will improve conditions for animals at the shelter, while at the same time making it easier for adoptions to take place.

“They needed a change here,” Lowry said. “So I’m here to put a woman’s touch on things.”

Lowry said that she has already met with staff to discuss how the shelter should operate.

“The few days I have been there, I have found them to be doing a good job. They are compassionate,” Lowry said. “I’m a fair person and I have been explaining to them what needs to be done so that things will be easier for everybody.”

Lowry said that once two new employees are hired to oversee adoptions and volunteers, there will be better communications between the shelter and rescue groups, making adoptions easier.

“I will then be out in the kennel working full-time for animal welfare,” Lowry said. “Those seeking to adopt animals will be working directly with me. I will be the one to greet them when they come to the shelter and show them the animals that are up for adoption.”

Lowry emphasized that her dealing directly with the public will allow other shelter staff to focus on their jobs, including keeping the shelter clean and seeing that all animals have food and water.

On Friday, the new manager was busy developing an Excel spreadsheet that will include the number of each animal, as well as all identification information. She also was putting together identification collars, with individual animal numbers, and numbering kennels.

Lowry said she will consider all sides when making decisions on issues aimed at improving shelter operations and adoptions. But her decisions, she added, will always be to do “what is most important for the welfare of the animals.”

“I will follow state and county regulations, and work outside the box within these guidelines,” she said.

Lowry is currently trying to find foster homes for a number of cats that are housed at the shelter.

“We have a big cat problem, and I’m trying to find as many foster homes for these animals as I can,” she said. “We need to educate the community to the importance of having their animals spayed or neutered.”

Lowry said that she expects improvements in shelter conditions, as well as the new system for adopting animals, to come about “quickly.”

“I’m proud to be working for the county,” she said. “Through my work at the shelter I can give back to the county in a positive way.”

Read more:The Robesonian - New manager promises ‘quick’ changes at pound

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