Foothills Humane Society welcomes new executive director
Published 10:00 pm Friday, February 19, 2016
By Michael O’Hearn
The Foothills Humane Society shelter in Columbus has introduced a new executive director, Christine Taylor.
Taylor, who lives in Hendersonville, took over as director on Jan. 1 to do part time work temporarily before being moved to full time this week.
“I started as a volunteer here in I think it was February or March of 2013,” Taylor said. “Then, in August 2013, they had an opening in the front office and I asked if I could do it. Some weeks it was three days, and sometimes it was two days for two and a half years.”
Working at a shelter is not something Taylor has always done. Taylor said she got laid off from the corporate world when she worked at the World Trade Center and went to working as a volunteer with animals.
“I’ve always loved animals, but when I lived in Long Island there wasn’t a shelter to volunteer at close by,” Taylor said. “I think I started late volunteering when I moved to New Jersey, the shelter where I eventually got a job I volunteered at for six years before taking the director job.”
When the position of director opened, Taylor said she thought about because she had been the director of a shelter in New Jersey for 14 years.
“I was the executive director for a no-kill shelter that was limited admission there, which is totally different than this one where we have to admit all animals,” Taylor explained. “The staff encouraged me and I decided to go for it.”
Budget constraints at the shelter opened the way for Taylor to get the position, initially as a part-time opening.
“I’m really hands-on with the staff and what’s going on with the daily operations,” Taylor said. “I like to know but I don’t micromanage but I like to be out there with the adopters, with the people, instead of just sitting in here (the office) with my door closed, and this is a great staff who cares and goes above and beyond.”
While working as an executive director in New Jersey, Taylor said she used to rescue animals from shelters in the south but was not familiar with the Foothills Humane Society.
“I’m on the board for Community Partnership for Pets in Flat Rock and the president of the board took my ex-assistant and I down here to visit,” Taylor said. “She knew the executive director and we went down there, and I was nervous because it was a kill shelter turning into a no-kill shelter. I liked what they were doing, with the way the staff talked to us and greeted us.”
Volunteering in the front office of the humane society every Tuesday is something Taylor said she loved doing, despite the Hendersonville shelter being closer to where she lives.
“There’s something about this place and I saw how they really cared,” Taylor said.
Getting the name out and information about the shelter circulating is one of the goals Taylor said she hopes to accomplish as the new director.
“We need to get out and about more and increase adoptions,” Taylor said. “Even in the two and a half years I’ve been here, I see more and more stray animals coming in and not being reclaimed by their owners.”
Fixing things in the shelter building is also one of Taylor’s objectives, including the cages holding some of the shelter’s dogs out behind the building.
“This building is from 1989 and so we need to do some maintenance repairs,” Taylor said. “I would love to improve, and we don’t know whether it’s a renovation or if we’ll have to do a capital campaign for a new building, where the dogs are outside.”
The canine training program initiated by Taylor and facilitated by local dog trainer Kayla Parrish was one of Taylor’s main goals once she stepped in.
“It’s phenomenal and the turnout that we had was great,” Taylor said. “I had that in New Jersey and I think it’s great to see all of the dogs out and about on Saturdays. The staff can’t always take them out all the time, they are limited, but now we have 23 dogs being worked with on a weekly basis.”
Dealing with the staff and the public is the most fun aspect of working as the director, Taylor said.
“I’m a people person and I just like watching the animals getting adopted and the families and I love playing with the animals,” Taylor explained. “How many jobs can you have where you can play with dogs and cats and not get in trouble? It’s interacting with the staff and the public.”