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Dobbs to retire from shelter

After six months of consideration, Debbie Dobbs notified Animal Control Board members last week of her plans to retire as director of the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Center.
While family is the main reason for stepping down after almost 22 years as director, the completion of the new facility on North Roan Street also helped make her decision. “I’m pleased with how well this place turned out and that the community likes it,” she said. “I’m confident and calm this will continue to be a good place now that it’s up and running, and good for the animals.”
A ribbon-cutting for the new Animal Shelter and Adoption Center was held June 27, but the project was a long time coming. More than a decade was spent in conversation about the cramped quarters on Sells Avenue and a search for property that would offer the space to expand.
“It was 14 years of fundraising and two years conclusion,” said Dobbs, who never stopped pursuing the dream of a state-of-the-art animal shelter.
Lowering the euthanasia rate has been the biggest challenge of her tenure, she said. “We wanted to stop killing healthy, unwanted animals.”
When Dobbs took over as director, the former shelter had 20 kennels and a euthanasia rate of 80 percent. The new facility includes 148 kennels, and the euthanasia rate has been reduced by more than half.
New ideas for the shelter are programs to involve volunteers and those interand the euthanasia rate has been reduced by more than half.
New ideas for the shelter are programs to involve volunteers and those interested in fostering animals.
Dobbs said the incoming director must be more than just an administrator. “The person should be able to do all of the jobs, and have a strong bond with the staff,” she said.
ACB members are meeting Saturday, Oct. 24, to discuss the position, and fundraising ability is one of the criteria they want to consider including.
In Dobbs’ opinion, the two roles should be separate. “Fundraising is different from running a facility, and that should not be put on the director,” she said.
The animals, the people, friends and the staff are what Dobbs said she will miss most.
In considering her biggest accomplishments as director, she said they would have to be saving animals’ lives and being a part of building the new facility.
Her retirement date of Jan. 14, 2016, has special significance related to the birthday of her dear friend and mentor of 45 years who died unexpectedly in her sleep last year.
Dobbs said her friend’s unwavering support contributed to her longevity as director.
“The last thing she said to me was take care of God’s creatures, and take care of Debbie.”
Dobbs said part of moving into the next phase of her life will be taking care of Debbie.
In the end, it comes down to the animals and the messages Dobbs wants to emphasize.
“They’re here, they need homes, adopt and spay and neuter your pets,” she said. “If people are more aware, that’s the difference I made.”