An ongoing series profiling the people (and animals) of the Seattle Animal Shelter

By Susan Burgess

It’s 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and Amanda Tattersall Craft, an Animal Care Officer at the Seattle Animal Shelter, stands in the kitchen, dressed in blue coveralls, Wellies (as the rubber boots are known in her native Britain) and long rubber gloves. Her hands never stop moving as she works through a sink full of pet-food bowls, dog toys and litter boxes, while chatting amiably with her coworkers about new arrivals, recent adoptions and the health and behavioral status of the many animals in the Shelter’s care.

From dog walker to Shelter Officer

Amanda has come a long way in her path to the Seattle Animal Shelter. A native of Portsmouth, Great Britain, she and her husband moved to Seattle in 2004. When the couple visited the Shelter to inquire about adopting a guinea pig, Amanda noticed the signs promoting volunteer training and decided to attend a session. She soon took up dog walking one day a week and found it so rewarding that she increased her volunteer commitment to five days a week. Realizing that it was more than a hobby, she dedicated herself to shelter work. She is now in her fourth year as an Animal Care Officer.

Kitties with colds; lots of laundry

With the dishes under control, Amanda moves on to the cat isolation room to tend to a litter of kittens with upper respiratory infections, a common shelter affliction, and something that must be cleared up before the animals can be put up for adoption.

Next, she steps into the laundry room, transferring the morning’s industrial-size load of laundry from the washer—in terms of size, think small cement mixer—to the equally massive dryer. Laundry could be a full-time job at the Shelter, but instead it’s one of the never-ending chores that the staff manages to attend to during spare moments.

The calm before the storm

Just before noon, Amanda and her colleagues change into slacks and t-shirt uniforms, and take their places behind a row of desks in the lobby. The afternoon volunteers arrive and take their stations in the kennel areas. When the doors open, a small crowd enters the lobby. This part of the day is as varied as the people and animals who come through the door, but the majority of cases are surrenders, adoptions, and lost pet queries.

Greeting new people and new animals

By 12:15 p.m., the Animal Care staff have processed the applications for three potential cat adopters and sent them to visit the cat rooms, and sent an equal number towards the dog kennels. A retired couple expresses interest in an eight-year-old Pit mix and end up adopting her, thanks to Amanda’s diligent assistance. A dog, Lucky, is surrendered to the shelter. Three cats receive forever homes. It’s 2:00 p.m. and the rapidly moving line shows no signs of letting up.

For Amanda, the work is the reward

Back in the kitchen, there’s a corkboard filled with thank you notes and drawings from school class trips to the Shelter and updates from grateful adopters.

While Amanda is touched by people’s gratitude, she doesn’t view herself as a hero. This work gives her an opportunity to combine her passion and professionalism, and that’s enough for her. When it comes down to it, she is simply doing her job.