Animal Shelter welcomes new director

Facility looking to add new events, volunteer opportunities, and fundraisers while continuing its mission to care for animals
The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter recently welcomed a new director, and she said she’s excited to continue the facility’s mission to care for animals while also expanding efforts to involve the community in the process.
Katelyn Gibbons, originally from Chicago, is the new director for the Animal Shelter; she started on February 17. 
Gibbons, who has lived in Michigan for the last five years, said her background was in hospitality management, managing luxury hotels, but after 12 years she “decided to take her career in a different direction.”
“Really just kind of had a passion change,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons transitioned into veterinary hospital management.
“From there I really fell in love with taking care of animals, caring for animals,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said she wanted to move into the non-profit sector of animal care. Through her work with the Humane Society and the Bissell Pet Foundation, she said she gained a lot of knowledge about “non-profit sustainability” and “shelter medicine.” As AuSable Valley Animal Shelter leaders began scouting for a new director, they were given her information, Gibbons said.
Gibbons said her tenure at the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter has gone well so far.
“My main focus is on improving the standard of care, and the day to day lives of the animals,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the current staff has been helpful in the transition.
“I have an excellent staff. I have a team of six – two ladies, four gentlemen. They really do carry the best interests of the animals at heart, and that’s the most important aspect in animal welfare,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the Animal Shelter – as of Friday, March 24 – had 27 adults dogs and eight adult cats at the facility, plus a few others in foster care.
Gibbons said pets are sterilized (spayed or neutered) before they’re adopted out, and they’re also vaccinated. Gibbons said sterilization “plays a huge role in the masses of homeless pets across the world, among other things.”
“A person should not need to be wealthy to afford the companionship of a pet. The economy has played a huge role in the masses of homeless pets. With limited access to affordable veterinary care services, and a lack of education as to why routine vaccines, health checks, and sterilization are critical for every pet, we will continue to see a rise in the number of homeless pets,” Gibbons said.
“This is where animal shelters and humane societies can change that narrative. At our animal shelter, our goal is to keep pets in the homes that they have, with the people that love them. We offer a no-questions-asked community pet food pantry, open during business hours,” Gibbons said. “And in those instances when it’s not possible to keep a pet in their home, our goal is to provide a nonjudgmental, caring response to those needing to surrender a pet. No animal deserves to be abandoned at the front gate or in a box because their owner is embarrassed or ashamed. We ask that the community not leave their pets at the gate; if they feel the need to relinquish them, call us, have a conversation, and together we can find a solution.” 
The Animal Shelter can be reached at 989.348.4117.
Gibbons said the “mission” of the Animal Shelter is “to rescue, sterilize, adopt, and educate.” 
Gibbons said community members and businesses provide a lot of support for the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter.
“We have a great relationship with so many local businesses and community members. Grayling Hospital for Animals has played a huge part in the mission of our shelter. They have been a tremendous help with our sterilization program and we can’t say enough good things about them,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said the Animal Shelter welcomes volunteers to help with a variety of important tasks at the facility, such as offering foster homes for pets, dog walking, socialization and enrichment for dogs and cats, puppy snuggling, and processing donated items.
“There’s really something for everybody,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said puppy snuggling – holding the dogs and getting them used to the human touch – has been “a huge success.”
The Animal Shelter’s website at has an online form for people who would like to register as volunteers. Gibbons said the facility offers orientation for volunteers based on what task they would like to perform.
Gibbons said people can donate returnable bottles and cans anytime at the Animal Shelter via the marked donation bin outside of the fence at the facility. The Animal Shelter also has a donation bin for items such as blankets, towels, and sheets.
“All of those little things make a big difference for the animals, and the care we can provide.” Gibbons said. “Our entire organization is donation-based. We’re very fortunate to have the donors we have. The more people can help, the greater impact we will make in the lives of these pets and the community as a whole.”
The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter has changed its hours of operation to allow people more flexibility for volunteering, adopting a pet, and visiting the facility, Gibbons said.
The Animal Shelter is now open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Gibbons said the Animal Shelter is working on offering more programs for kids. The “Creative Kids and Cats” program would give children the opportunity to learn about cats and then create artwork of the pets to help with the adoption process, according to Gibbons. The “Reading to Rover” program would have children spending time with dogs at the facility while encouraging education and reading, she said.
“We’re really trying to provide animal welfare awareness and education, to all ages. These programs are a way to initiate that connection for our younger community members.” Gibbons said.
The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter plans to conduct its annual golf outing fundraiser on June 10, and the facility is also planning other fundraisers such as “Pints for Paws” or “Ales for Tails” with local breweries later this year.
“I think the community is really looking forward to getting back involved with the shelter,” Gibbons said. “We just really look forward to incorporating the community back into the shelter.”
Linda Barber, President of the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter Board, said Gibbons is a great fit for the facility.
“We’re so happy. It’s so wonderful to have her in place with her knowledge and experience. It’s just a wonderful match for us,” Barber said.
The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter is located near the Crawford County Sports Complex at 5786 Fairground Lane.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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