Major changes are taking place at the Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association after board elections and management changes brought new leadership to the Greenbrier Street animal shelter.
Visitors to the animal shelter now experience one-on-one attention with "adoption counselors" in the shelter's sleek new lobby, and the process by which the shelter conducts intake and tracking of animals has been completely overhauled.
And Chelsea Staley, the shelter's executive director, said there's more to come.
"We've done a lot of change in processes at the shelter," she said. "We're doing a lot of stuff that the public doesn't see."
Staley officially became executive director at an Oct. 31 board meeting after two months in the position of interim director.
At the association's August board meeting, longtime director Donna Clark resigned along with three board members. In addition, several people affiliated with Dog Bless, a rescue advocacy group, took seats on the board during the June elections.
The shelter's bright new lobby eliminates a large reception desk and replaces it with smaller ones. Potential animal adopters now receive one-on-one attention and consulting with shelter employees.
The renovations cost the humane association about $12,000. The board approved the costs at the August meeting.
"It's improved employees' morale," Staley said of the renovations. "It's a fresh, fun space to work in."
But one of the biggest changes has been the overhaul in the way the shelter processes animals.
Upon arrival, each animal is immediately registered. The animal is weighed, has its health assessed and receives flea and worm treatments if they are needed. A photo is also taken of the animal.
All of that information is recorded using iPads the shelter recently purchased, and the data are stored in a cloud-based system and printed on cage cards placed on the animal's kennel. As the animal moves through the shelter, the data can be updated and reviewed at any time.
The old system was paper-based.
"There was no doubt we needed to go to a cloud-based system," Staley said.
There have been changes, too, in how the shelter keeps animals healthy and prevents disease from spreading.
While part of the health aspect is addressed by the new intake procedures, the shelter is also instituting separate wards for sick animals and has hired its own veterinary technician to monitor the animals' health and administer generic medications and antibiotics, which the shelter now keeps on hand.
"It's a mentality shift," Staley said. "You have to act like you work in a hospital."
Staley also said the shelter is moving toward becoming a no-kill facility but has to do so one step at a time because it serves as a drop-off point for animals captured by county and municipal animal control officers.
"We have to do it responsibly," she said. "The fine line we have to worry about is we are animal control. We want to do it when it's responsible for us to do it."