Periodically, we’ll introduce you to some of the wonderful staff members at the Seattle Animal Shelter. Today, we’re shining a spotlight on Arlene Ehrlich, licensing specialist.

SASF: Tell us about the paths that have led you to your current role at the Seattle Animal Shelter.

AE: I started volunteering for SAS in 1998. I believe I was one of the first 10 volunteers! I started out doing digital photography, and then did dog walking, matchmaking, a little bit of everything. One day I took some orphaned kittens home and the next thing you know I was asked to create and develop the cat foster program. I had a co-team leader in Sandy Hansen, who also went on to work at SAS. It was exciting to be involved at the beginning of something that’s had such a huge impact. It was supposed to be temporary but I was still doing it two years later. I started fostering dogs, and at some point I fostered and then adopted a pit bull puppy named Mia, who just turned 12 this year—and was Miss March in the SASF calendar! She completely changed my life and led me down a path of focusing on pit bull rescue and advocacy. I volunteered for Pit Bull Rescue Central for several years and served on their board as treasurer. I continued to foster pit bulls for SAS and other organizations and case-managed the other SAS foster pit bulls. I’d always hoped to work at SAS someday, but the timing was never right. My background is in accounting, so in 2006 when I heard there was an opening in the licensing office and I was looking for a job, it was a dream come true!

SASF: What’s a typical day like for you?

AE: I start working a couple of hours before the Shelter is open to the public, so the mornings are calm and ideal for working on things that require more focus. Our department handles all the licensing sales for the City whether they were made online, at a neighborhood service center, via mail or at one of our many partners. Once we open at noon, the day can be chaotic. Anything involving money crosses our desks. The phones are often ringing off the hook, especially if we’ve done some kind of licensing mailer. You’d be surprised by how many calls we get from people who find a dog—or cat sometimes—that’s wearing its pet license. I call the owner and put them in touch with the finder. Often the owner has been out looking for their pet and are overjoyed to know their dog or cat will be returning home, safe and sound. I also process all of the vet invoices for payment, so I know just how much we are doing to save animals’ lives and improve their health.

SASF: What’s the main thing you’d like the public to know about your department?

AE: Licensing money directly supports the operations of the Shelter!

SASF: What’s the most rewarding thing about working at SAS?

AE: Seeing how far our Shelter has come and knowing that we have a lot of passionate people, both staff and volunteers, that are still working really hard to ensure that we keep progressing.

SASF: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

AE: People that don’t believe in spaying or neutering even though their dog or cat was out running around loose.

SASF: Any tips for potential adopters in Seattle?

AE: If you are looking to adopt, definitely have some patience and come to the Shelter frequently. We’ve seen almost every breed of dog, every type of cat, all sorts of birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, various reptiles, and on and on. Someone could walk in with what you’re looking for right after you leave, so you need to keep checking back.

SASF: Why should Seattleites support the Seattle Animal Shelter?

AE: Because I truly feel we go above and beyond to assure the best possible outcome for each animal. That probably sounds cheesy, but it’s true.