SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Newly hired Sevier County Animal Shelter director shared her goals as the temporary shelter is set to open sometime in mid-September.
County leaders announced last week that Ashley Thomas would be overseeing the new Sevier County Animal Shelter located off Dolly Parton Parkway.
The previous shelter, Pets Without Parents, closed permanently at the end of June. The shelter received backlash in the spring for overcrowding concerns and questions about euthanizing animals.
Thomas has done nearly every job at Young-Williams Animal Center for the last 10 years..
"I've always loved animals. You know, you connect with animals in a way you can't with people sometimes," she said.
For the last five years, Thomas has been the placement manager at YWAC working with fosters and rescue groups.
"I just learned so much and have built up my knowledge to the point where I feel that it's time to take that and put it back to better use with a smaller shelter that really needs help," she said.
When Pets Without Parents was struggling, Thomas says she helped. The community has been on her heart because it's where she grew up and now lives.
"I feel like I've really been set up for success because of the job I've done," said Thomas.
Thomas says she'll start her new job as director of the Sevier County Animal Shelter on September 4. Her first goal is hiring the right team of people with animal and shelter care experience.
"It's kind of starting from square one. Putting the right things in place so that it'll be sustainable," she said.
Initially the shelter will only accept animals from the county and city animal control officers. Thomas wants to set up strong partnerships with area rescues.
"I need to find some veterinary partners because we'll need the animals fixed. We'll need help if they come in injured and educating the public on where they can go to get their pets spayed and neutered is one of the most important things," said Thomas.
Thomas says she wants this shelter to be open and transparent because her goal is simply about saving lives.
"There's so much more hope for change. Everyone's pushing for innovative programs and ideas, everyone's coming together. I'm just so ready," she said.
If you're interested in fostering, volunteering or working with the new Sevier County Animal Shelter, Thomas says she's working on creating forms along with applications. If you would like to send her your information and resume, you can do so by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A 24-month lease has been signed to house the temporary shelter. County leaders are currently working on identifying a permanent location.
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