Pamela Green has spent the last three decades working as the executive director of the Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. When she took on the role there were only three employees and the shelter was on the brink of closing due to financial difficulties. Thirty years later the Kent Animal Shelter is a well-respected institution in the animal welfare field. In 2009, the Shelter received honors on a national level as Shelter of the Year. Kent’s reach stretches outside Long Island as it rescues animals in kill shelters in the South and puppy mill castaways in the Midwest. In 2014 Kent oversaw 750 adoptions, rescued 711 animals and it performed 4,000 low-cost spay/neuter surgeries.
We spoke with Green to find out more about her very important work.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up on Long Island and my family was never complete without an array of critters—cats, dogs, chickens, horses and a duck named Sam. My parents were the greatest inspiration for my career in animal welfare. A career in Vet Med was my original goal and so I attended Cornell and graduated with a degree in Bio Sciences. I also worked in between at a small animal practice. I enrolled in grad school at the University of Kentucky [but], during a break, this opportunity at Kent Animal Shelter presented itself as if fate had crossed my path. Kent was a small and relatively unknown animal shelter. With very little money to remain in operation, the board of directors elected to take one last chance to keep the shelter open.
The challenge was huge then and it still is today. At the time there were only a few employees to take care of a small amount of animals that resided at the shelter. There was a spay/neuter clinic that had closed.
Can you tell us about fundraising?
Fundraising was a new career for me as well. I was given a small book with names of people that had donated in the past so I began to write letters asking for support. I re-opened the clinic. The number of animals in crisis situations was plentiful then, as it is today, so we began to take them under our wing. I attended fundraising
school at LIU/C.W. Post and earned a degree in Fund Raising Management.
What are some of the biggest day-to-day challenges?
The biggest challenges are reaching out to as many animals that need help as possible, raising enough money every year to provide the best of care for them until permanent homes are found and making the best of an aging shelter until a new facility with a much greater capacity becomes a reality.
What would you say to people who are wary of adopting shelter animals?
To people that are apprehensive about adopting animals from shelters, I would say that shelters have a wide variety of pets of all ages, [and] all breeds, that have been evaluated for any possible behavior issues. They have been vaccinated, micro-chipped, received a clean bill of health and are spayed or neutered. And when you adopt, you save a life. When you go to a pet shop and purchase a dog or cat, you are potentially buying yourself a bucket load of problems, both health and behavioral. The parents of those animals are cared for with the lowest standard of care possible. They are caged in horrible conditions for a lifetime of breeding for profit so “Adopt Don’t Shop!”
What do you think it takes to be a strong leader?
As far as leadership skills, I think they’re relatively the same regardless of profession. Dedication, determination, passion for what you do, being able to manage and work with various personalities bringing them together under a common cause. Also, the ability to make important and sometimes crucial decisions under difficult and pressing circumstances and standing by it with the confidence of knowing that you used all your skills and knowledge to do so.
Kent Animal Shelter, 2259 River Road, Calverton, 631-727-5731 kentanimalshelter.com