Saturday December 4th, 2021 5:06AM

New Humane Society director outlines shelter goals

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist
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On a sunny April morning, Allison Mayfield plays fetch with Tuggle, an available rescue at the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, inside one of the shelter’s outdoor dog runs.

Mayfield, who took over as the shelter’s executive director in early January, will be the first to admit that she never would have envisioned herself working at an animal shelter.

However, after having to surrender a dog of her own, Mayfield realized how much of an impact owning a pet can have on a person’s life.

“I was moving into a one-bedroom apartment and they wouldn’t let me have a dog, so it was either that or I was going take my dog and live on the street with my three kids…it was devastating.”

As a result, the Augusta native said that one of her short-term goals for the shelter is to focus on helping pet owners when they come to surrender their animal. She said that more than half of the shelter’s current intake is owner surrender.

“One of the things that I want to do is become more people-focused and when someone’s coming to bring an animal, not to place judgement, not to put any barriers in the way, but to be able to say, ‘how can we help you keep your animal?’”

Mayfield said that this assistance may include offering to board an animal for the owner or services in the shelter’s Healthy Pet Clinic.

She added that focusing more on the owners or potential adopters can help better match the animal to a person and limit future owner surrenders.

“Right now we say, ‘Oh, so and so is a great animal!’ or ‘So and so has this kind of behavior,’ but turning that and saying, ‘Okay, what’s the perfect match for you as a person,’ instead of focusing so much on the animal…we are going to continue to focus on that animal but focus on the people too,” said Mayfield.

While Mayfield has only been executive director for 90 days, she is already looking ahead to long-term goals. One of these objectives is to expand the shelter’s medical services to other counties, specifically rural counties.

“Right now we are the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia and so I really want to become the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia and go into counties that don’t have animal services and maybe partner with them to help their animals,” said Mayfield.

But expanding the shelter’s medical services might require more space, which ties into Mayfield’s other long-term goal: a capital campaign to build a new shelter.

Mayfield said that her vision is to build a shelter with a larger medical facility and more room for the animals to move around. She said there would be indoor and outdoor dog runs, at the minimum.

“Shelters like this, and I’m sure a lot of shelters that you go into, were built to just cage animals, to hold them and adopt them and that was it,” said Mayfield. “We’ve learned so much in this world now that this [caging animals] is trauma and that trauma affects their behavior, which affects their adoptability.”

In addition to indoor and outdoor dog runs, Mayfield said that a new shelter would include a larger cat room with areas where the cats could be out of their kennels and socialize with one another.

Increasing the amount of shelter space would also allow staff to take in more homeless animals with medical issues, something that Mayfield said they are limited in doing right now.

“I definitely don’t want to turn away animals because the medical need is too great for us to manage…right now we have to do that because we don’t have the tools that we need to help them,” she said.

Mayfield is no stranger to taking the lead when it comes to moving a nonprofit forward. Her experience includes positions as outreach director for a church and as executive director for a couple of Boys and Girls Clubs.

She has been on both the giving and receiving side of a nonprofit- while working for the church, she also purchased a home from the East Cooper Habitat for Humanity in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

Mayfield also started her own nonprofit dedicated to helping single moms accomplish their academic goals. While the organization unfortunately no longer exists, the same conviction that led Mayfield to start the nonprofit follows her to HSNEGA.

“I don’t do well coming into an organization that just needs to be maintained, I do well coming into an organization where I can assess and make a plan for the future and fix things, said Mayfield. “That’s what attracted me to [the shelter] because the board in my interview had kind of talked about a capital campaign and they really wanted to grow the organization.”

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: HSNEGA, Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, animals, humane society, shelter, rescue animals, Allison Mayfield
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New Humane Society director outlines shelter goals
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