Shelter Spotlight: Acting Director Ann Graves
Ann at SAS
November 2000: Hired as an animal care officer
2003: Became a humane animal law enforcement officer
2004: Promoted to Enforcement Supervisor
2013: Became Manager of Field Services
July 2016: Asked to fill the role of Acting Director
Discovering a Career in Animal Welfare
My career in animal welfare actually began in 1990-1991 when I became a volunteer for the Humane Society for Seattle/King County (aka Seattle Humane). Over the next 10 years, I participated in virtually all volunteer roles from dog walking to pet therapy visits to nursing homes to vet assistant and chair of the pets committee for Tuxes & Tails. It was my work as a volunteer that made me realize I wanted a career working with animals and in 1994, I quit my job at UPS, went back to school and in 1998 completed my BS degree in Zoology at University of Washington. I thought about veterinary medicine but my heart was in shelter work and that path led me to SAS.
Connecting with Thousands of Animals (& People)
I have been a foster parent throughout and have had countless kittens, dogs, cats with upper respiratory infections, and post-surgical animals sharing our home over the years. Between foster animals, animals I’ve cared for in the shelter and animal welfare cases I’ve been a part of, it’s probably safe to say the number of animals I’ve been involved with over these years is in the thousands.
As acting director, I’m more intimately connected to everything we do at SAS. While there is more desk work, I find the moments I cherish the most are those spent outside my office. I learn more about who we are and what we need with each conversation I have with a member of our team. I am humbled by the dedication of our volunteers as I watch them fold laundry or help a customer learn about the animal they are interested in. Then there are those moments when I get to sneak a snuggle with an animal in our care or I talk with an officer about an animal cruelty case they are working on.
I stroll through the spay/neuter clinic and watch our team providing this vital service to our community with such precision and dedication, and listen as our administrative and licensing teams help customers who reach out to us to buy a pet license or file a complaint. These are the “behind the scenes” things that literally keep us going and are the first point of connection to the community we serve. I am continually inspired by these people and animals and grateful to be a part of it all.
As a volunteer with the ASPCA Field Investigations & Response Team, Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, I have had the opportunity to work in communities and on cases from Virginia to Guam and Saipan. One very rewarding aspect of my work is gaining the skills and experience to be able to participate so fully in so many ways to have a positive impact on the lives of animals and the people who care for them in our community and beyond.
My wife and I currently share our home outside of Seattle with three dogs and three cats. Brody (10) is a border collie/golden retriever mix, Max (9) is border collie, both adopted after their owners no longer wanted them, and Handsome (yes, another border collie) is about 13, I brought him home last spring after a stroll through the kennels and finding him on day four of his stray hold with no one claiming him. Leo (the mighty lion) was a sickly foster kitten we kept, Larry was a stray brought home from the hairdresser who was going to turn him out (both about 10 years old) and our newest addition is Linus, a neighborhood stray, about 2 years old. Interestingly, all three cats are solid grey domestic long haired … really not sure how that happened but it’s a little like having identical triplets.
Driving Change in Animal Welfare
I have seen a tremendous amount of change in our profession during my time with SAS. Changes in animal sheltering and animal cruelty investigations have transformed us from the pound and the dogcatcher to the shelter and the officer. Part of that change comes from the grants provided by the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF). These grants are having a positive impact on every aspect of what we do here and on every animal who comes through our door or needs our help in the community. About 27 years ago, when I began volunteering at a local shelter I had no idea that I would end up here, doing this work. Today I can’t imagine doing anything else.