It’s no secret that the Humane Society of Weld County has experienced some operational and administrative challenges over the years.
As new directors were just getting settled into the community in recent years, they were suddenly gone and replaced by an interim director until another new candidate was found.
For Doug Kelley, the newest president and CEO, the shelter’s past is the past. Kelley said he’s committed to taking the organization in a positive direction and making connections within the community.
“My biggest thing is that we understand and we acknowledge it,” Kelley said when asked about his thoughts on the shelter’s past issues. “As things started to turn around, we put in place the plan for animal care. That’s the most important thing, the animal care aspect. And we are where we need to be as far as the care and the quality of care of the animals.”
Kelley officially took over the director position at the shelter in April.
“It was quite the journey. I talked to a lot of people and contacts in animal welfare about the Humane Society of Weld County because frankly, I was in animal welfare during the time there were the challenges here, so I had heard about all of that,” Kelley explained. “The people I talked to said things have changed and the shelter was really going in the right direction. So I went through the process, and I was very impressed when I talked to the board.”
Prior to coming to Weld County, Kelley was the animal and wildlife administrator for the city and county of Denver from April 2012 to September 2020 and worked as the director of the Denver Animal Care and Control and Denver Animal Shelter for 12 years.
Kelley does not shy away from inviting community members into the shelter to check out its operations or to come see him if they have any questions or concerns about any of the animals or shelter’s processes.
“Hopefully once people see what we are doing, they will want to be part of it,” Kelley said.
Some of the goals Kelley has for the shelter include designing a new building for the animals and staff.
“We do the best with what we have here. It’s not horrible, but the way it’s set up, the true animal flow that you should have in an animal shelter is just impossible here,” Kelley said. “There’s massive amounts of square footage, but it’s just set up so bad.”
Kelley plans to have an architect come out to assess the current building and see what changes they could make on the existing structure — if any at all.
“He does nothing but design animal shelters around the world,” Kelley said. “They do an assessment and come in and look at all of our statistics and see what we got and everything. But beyond that, they look at the community, look at Weld County and what that might look like in 10 years. They will look at how that will affect us and give us a report on it all.”
The building and the land the shelter sits on is owned by the organization, and Kelley is unsure if they will use the current property for the new building or look for a different location.
“The challenge with staying at the same place, not saying you can’t overcome it, but you have to build part of the shelter, move in, then tear down the other part,” he explained. “And here, it may have to be done in three parts. So, we may look into some sort of land swap.”
Kelley is striving to have the assessment done on the shelter by the fall and then start designing a capital campaign around raising the money for the new design.
“But the first thing we have to do is get our house in order,” he said. “I would never go to the community if we were a mess — which has happened in the past — and say we need a new shelter. Coming from lots of years of working in animal welfare, I can truly say we have exceptional animal care here.”
Kelley and his staff are also working on developing the veterinary care services as well as the behavioral services offered at the shelter.
“We are testing a lot of different events. There’s a lot happening, and we really want to engage the community and be that point of contact for anything involving animal welfare,” said Sarah Morrill, director of marketing and development. “There’s been a lot of talk with Evans about our trap, neuter, release (TNR) program and also looking to work with the City Council in Greeley to start a TNR program in Greeley as well.”
Kelley and the shelter staff are also looking into starting programs to help current animals owners keep their pets as well as expanding vaccine clinics and the pet food bank.
“The lines start early and sometimes go into the street. People are sometimes waiting an hour for vaccines,” Morrill said. “We would love to be able to expand that offering and get resources to people who love their animals in our community.
“We are here to help homeless animals, but we are also here to help all animals in Weld County,” she added.
For more information on the Humane Society of Weld County, go to www.weldcountyhumane.org.