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The Goal is to Save Lives

An Interview with Alyson Harms

Bullhead City Shelter Manager

The role that our animal shelter plays in our community is rapidly changing. A couple of reasons for this is the growing support from the community, all of you, and the changes that the shelter staff has made. Bullhead City will be getting a new shelter in the future and I sat down with Alyson Harms, the shelter manager, so all of us can get to know her better.

Tell us about how you started in animal welfare and when?

After graduating high school I went to school in Las Vegas to be a Vet. Tech. There I found a teacher that taught me what true work ethic is and I consider her a mentor in my life. There I learned what it was to give it your all. I started at the Bullhead City shelter, part time, in 2011. It was my Mom that actually told me to apply. When I got hired, I learned many of the different jobs that are required in running a shelter. Cleaning kennels, adoptions, licensing and yes, even picking up poop! It gave me a good foundation for my work now.

What positions have you held with the shelter?

I have had a total of 5 different positions while working here. I pretty much grew up in the shelter. Everything from a part time employee, to a lead officer and now my role as shelter manager. I became the manager in August of 2022. My supervisor is Jeff Tipton. Jeff and I have an amazing relationship and I am blessed to have him as a mentor.

Let’s talk about that.

1. When I became the manager it was definitely hit the ground running and we haven’t stopped. One of the things we did was become a Best Friends Network Partner in December of 2022. Best Friends is the largest animal sanctuary and society in the country. They came and did an assessment of our shelter and showed us what things we need to work on, small things that make a really big impact. I also received a scholarship from them which resulted in me receiving certification in Management Leadership. Jeff Tipton and myself attended the Best Friends National Conference this year. I learned so much and met so many people. Incorporating all of these things has helped to make a difference in so many aspects, one of them being our save rate (save rate is defined as the number of animals who enter an animals shelter each year and leave alive). Going from

approx. 50% when I started at the shelter, to now 96%. Best Friends showed us where our save rate gap was – feral cats- and we are working with partners to close that gap.

What other things do you believe has contributed to that increase?

One is the increase in the return to home percentage. It has increased dramatically. More pets are going back to their owners. There are a few reasons for that: micro chipping (all dogs who are adopted from the shelter are micro chipped), GPS tracking devices and definitely the use of Facebook, something we did not do in the past.

So let’s talk about a really exciting topic, our new shelter?

The one thing that first comes to mind is we are going from small to mighty! The new shelter will have a total of 80 dog kennels, to use when and if needed. Our existing shelter has 31 large dog runs, a big difference. In phase two, we will be completing the outdoor area for the dogs. The cats will be getting a free roaming area also. There will be big changes for them too. One side of the building will be set up for a Vet Clinic. This will not only be for the shelter pets but for the public also. Developing relationships is also very important and I have done that with Patty Gilmore, the shelter director of the Western Arizona Humane Society in Lake Havana. We are planning to send some of our staff their to train at their facility. Alyson summed everything up this way – Things in animal welfare are constantly changing and I am always learning. The one thing I know for sure is that we will not waiver from our goal and objective of saving homeless pets lives. I hope this gave all of you an insight into where our shelter is headed and that as a community we need continue to support them. In working together, pets lives are saved!

Gail Moscato


Positive Paws BHC

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