Tina Sperry was the type of child growing up who brought home stray cats and dogs on a regular basis.
Now, as an adult, Sperry is no different except that she gets paid to rescue abused, abandoned and neglected animals. She is shelter manager of the Clallam County Humane Society in Port Angeles.
"It's hard to describe," said Sperry about her love for furry, four-legged critters. "I have a passion for animals and if there is a situation where I can help them, I want to do it at all costs."
While her main duty is to oversee the functional operation of the shelter, Sperry wears many hats. "There is no such thing as a 'typical' day at this job. One minute I'm doing paperwork and the next moment I'm herding sheep," she said, referring to a recent animal-control situation where 121 sheep were taken into custody during a four-day period while Sperry and others helped the owner build proper fencing.
"That is something Scott and I both believe strongly in," Sperry continued, referring to her boss and executive director of the humane society Scott Chandler. "Sometimes people just need help and we are willing to help people who want to keep their animals and are willing to step up to the plate to do so. In the long run, it can be better for them to keep their animals than for us to take them."
Sperry and Chandler have an occupational history together. They worked side-by-side in Longview before he took the job in Clallam County. "I have a lot of respect for Scott and how he works with animals and with people," Sperry said. "I like that he helps people and doesn't just enforce laws. So, when the opportunity arose to follow Scott (to the peninsula), I took it."
Sperry, who began work at the shelter Oct. 1, already has started making changes to improve the organization including more thorough cleaning routines to prevent sickness. When she started, Sperry said the shelter's sick room, which comfortably holds 12 animals, was always over-capacity. But she started requiring employees and volunteers to clean the kennels vigorously once a day and since Nov. 1 fewer than five animals have occupied the room.
"I sat down with the staff and proposed different methods of cleaning, and it has helped a lot," she said. "The kennels are cleaned from top to bottom every single day and the animals are interacted with a lot more now, too. Happy pets are healthy pets."
These days, Sperry is focusing her energy on lowering the number of cats born during "kitten season" between spring and fall. She is educating the public on the importance of spaying and neutering animals, increasing the number of animals spayed and neutered before adoption through the humane society and regularly offering discounted surgery rates for low-income families.
Any pet brought into the shelter March 22 will be spayed or neutered at a discounted price no matter what the owner's income level.
Sperry encourages people to adopt animals from the shelter rather than searching the classified ads or seeking a private breeder. "These guys are here and they need another chance," she said. "No, you don't know the animal's history but we are open and honest about what we do know and if the animal is not potty trained or isn't child-friendly, we will tell you."
The humane society keeps a "want list" of animals that people in the community want to adopt. For example, if a person is seeking a purebred Siberian husky, shelter employees can make a note of the request and call the person when an animal matching his or her desire is brought in.
More than anything, Sperry said she strives to improve public perception of the humane society. "We don't want to be viewed as the 'pound' anymore," she emphasized. "We want people to see us for what we are: a place that offers positive support and services countywide."
For more information, call the humane society at 457-8206, go online to www.cchumane.com or stop by 2105 W. Highway 101, Port Angeles, during business hours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
A fresh, new start
The Clallam County Humane Society is taking on a new identity as the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society.
"There are a lot of reasons we are changing our name," said Scott Chandler, executive director. "It's a new day with a new board, a new director and a new focus."
Going by the Clallam County Humane Society is misleading, according to Chandler, who filled the executive director position Oct. 1, following Rick Collard's departure. "We are not funded by the county," Chandler explained. "We are a private, nonprofit organization that relies on the public for support."
While other businesses have faced conflict with the United States Olympic Committee for using the word "Olympic" in their titles, Chandler doesn't foresee it being an issue for the humane society. "I don't believe there will be any problems since we are not advertising outside of the county," he said.
The name change will not happen overnight. "The switch will be gradual. We are changing things as we can," Chandler said. "It's a long, ongoing process that should be finished by the June 28 annual golf tournament fundraiser. That's the goal."
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
For a complete company directory with contact information please click HERE.