Clark named shelter manager | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 13, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 12, 2017 at 10:25 am
By CINDY CROSBY
Laura Clark intends to hit the ground running this week when she steps into her new role as the manager of the Colleton County Animal Shelter.
With intimate knowledge of the workings of the shelter already under her belt due to her role in Friends of the Colleton County Animal Shelter (FoCCAS), Clark plans to take an innovative approach to addressing the needs of the shelter that will combine community education and outreach, as well as put more volunteer boots on the ground.
“FoCCAS is thrilled about the new shelter manager position,” said Sarah Miller, president of FoCCAS. “Laura Clark is an amazing animal advocate. She is well-organized, efficient and cares deeply about making Colleton County a pet-friendly community.”
Clark, a native of James Island, moved to Walterboro in 2005 with her husband, Rusty, and immediately fell in love with the community. Tragedy struck Clark’s idyllic life in 2013 when her husband suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away.
In the wake of her loss, Clark forged ahead to become an “agent of change” with her career, both within the community and in her volunteer efforts with animals in need.
Volunteering with animals since a young age, Clark joined FoCCAS in 2010. Before then, she was already involved in dog fostering and animal rescue on a personal level. “This cause delivered me from some unfortunate issues in my childhood,” Clark said, “which is why I am so passionate about empowering through education and helping people become part of the solution.”
Clark’s plan to use education and volunteer outreach as part of her plan to improve the Colleton County Animal Shelter will come as no surprise to those who know the former educator, who was chosen as the 2016 Colleton County School District Teacher of the Year.
Deciding she needed a “break” from the classroom, Clark resigned her position as a facilitator at Colleton County High School where she taught Spanish and a social entrepreneurship class in Cougar New Tech and served as the chair of the Foreign Language Department and an advisor for Young Agents of Change.
According to Clark, she made the decision to leave the classroom well before the manager position became available at the Colleton County Animal Shelter. “I just needed a break,” said Clark.
“The 30-40 hours a week I was volunteering with FoCCAS will now be part of my regular work week,” she said. “This will allow me to focus on one area only — improving conditions for the shelter and the animals within Colleton County.”
Clark’s goal for the Colleton County Animal Shelter is to improve the live release rate to 70 percent over the next six months. The shelter currently has a year-to-date release rate of 65 percent and recorded a rate of 72 percent this past May, she said.
“The part of my new job I fear the most is knowing there are some animals that are unsavable,” admitted Clark. “But, I also recognize that part of my job is making responsible decisions for Colleton County.”
Clark intends to utilize a forward-thinking approach to saving as many animals as possible, while addressing the needs of the community, such as the Community Cats Program she helped bring to Colleton County. “This program empowers the public to control the free-roaming cats in their community by trapping them and having them spayed or neutered, vaccinated and tested for disease and then returned to their outdoor homes,” said Clark. “FoCCAS provides traps at the shelter that can be checked out free of charge and the vetting can be done at SNAC or Charleston Animal Society for $10 per cat.”
Not one to miss an opportunity to get the word out about pet adoption, Clark added, “We have lots of adorable kittens available for adoption right now at the shelter.”
Living on a 43-acre farm, in a home she helped build with her own two hands, Clark has nine dogs (four personal and five fosters), three cats (one personal and two fosters), seven horses, three goats, and five chickens.
“We are very excited to add Laura to the staff. She will be a great conduit between the Animal Shelter and FOCCAS and brings with her a lot of experience. We were very fortunate that she was interested and I know it will put us in a good position to continue to improve the services the shelter provides,” said County Administrator Kevin Griffin.