Routt County Humane Society welcomes new executive director
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Elaine Hicks’ journey to Steamboat Springs has taken her through Denver, Colorado Springs, Texas and then back to Greeley. In November, she accepted the job as executive director at the Routt County Humane Society but was working remotely until she was able to move here in February.
“Of course it’s a beautiful resort community,” Hicks said. “This is an opportunity to help them grow the program and provide quality care for both shelter and community animals.”
Hicks is a certified animal welfare administrator who comes from the Humane Society of Weld County in Evans just outside of Greeley where her shelter cared for close to 4,000 animals a year compared to the 700 she will oversee in Routt County. Hicks is one of two new staff members at the Routt County Humane Society. The other is Alisa Bonelli, fundraising and events coordinator, who also came onboard in February.
Hicks is looking forward to enjoying the mountain lifestyle and believes she will be right at home with her four dogs and three cats.
“It was a great opportunity for my skill set with the programs and things that they have going here, “ Hicks said of the Routt County Humane Society. “It’s just a very good situation and a very animal-friendly community.”
Hicks grew up in Northwest Indiana earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Purdue University and a master’s degree from Webster University. Her first career was in criminal justice where she spent 18 years working in various capacities in the state of Kansas. In 1997, she moved to Colorado, and in 2000, she joined the Denver Dumb Friends League as a behavior program manager.
“Animal welfare has evolved over the last several decades. Animal shelters just used to be pounds, and basically, you kept an animal for five days, and if nobody came to reclaim them or if they weren’t quickly adapted, then more than likely they were euthanized,” Hicks said. “In the last 20 or 30 years, the Humane Society has evolved into providing programs and working on actively getting animals out into the community.”
She said the Humane Society is a resource to help teach responsible pet ownership, provide shelter animals with medical services, steward socialization and training, and of course, to find sheltered animals new homes.
Hicks plans to work toward providing more low-cost veterinary services and hosting more spay and neuter clinics. Last year, Hicks said the local Humane Society had 92 applications for financial assistance.
“There is a significant population that is financially challenged, and sometimes, it’s expensive for veterinary care,” Hicks said. “We will be doing low-cost vaccination clinics and then doing a wellness clinic which is basically minor illnesses, minor injuries and physical exams.”
The Routt County Humane Society has a fully equipped surgery suite and a veterinarian under contract who makes sure that every animal is spayed or neutered before they leave the facility and also provides minor procedures that make animals more adoptable.
“This is a great community resource, especially for homeless and stray animals that need a place to go — they need a safe haven,” Hicks said.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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