Humane Society welcomes new executive director
Editor's note: This story is part of Faces A to Z, a series highlighting familiar — and not so familiar — faces around Goodhue County. Learn more about the series and how to get involed here, and check back to the A to Z page for stories, history lessons and Q&As.
Interspecies matchmaking. What might sound odd to most makes complete sense to Cathryn Reed, executive director of the Humane Society of Goodhue County.
"Sometimes, that's how I describe this work," she said with a laugh.
Reed took the lead post at Goodhue County's animal shelter in early February. Her passion for animals, however, extends back as early as she can remember.
"I had so much joy from the pets I had growing up," Reed said. "Working in an animal shelter, you get those warm, fuzzy feelings that you wouldn't necessarily have otherwise. When an animal finds its forever home, you know not only did you save a life, you enhanced that family's life with joy, too."
Reed first stepped into shelter work as a volunteer in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
"I was working as a groomer, and began to volunteer my services to the shelter," she said. "Eventually, they were hiring and I naturally just fell into the position."
With over five years of experience at the Eau Claire shelter, the executive director opening in Red Wing caught Reed's eye. She began working with the shelter's outgoing director Anna Ostendorf the first week of February.
Reed diplomatically remained neutral when asked the ubiquitous "dog or cat person" question.
"Whatever I am playing with at a given moment," she said. "If I am snuggling with a cat, in that moment I'm a cat person. If I am playing around with a dog, I'm a dog person."
Though they are the most common, canines and felines are not the only animals Reed has helped find a fitting home.
Her most unique stray animal? A rose-haired tarantula left behind because of a hasty eviction.
"We held onto it, hoping the owner would come forward, but no such luck," Reed said. "I connected with a biology professor at the university (UW-Eau Claire) and she happily adopted the tarantula. It became a great teaching opportunity for the students."
Reed said a large part of the work done at shelters is educational.
"Sometimes people come in with a preconceived notion about what they want in a pet, and the pet they choose may not necessarily behave that way," she said.
When an adoption does not work out, Reed views those moments as educational opportunities.
"Not only do we know more about the animal and what kind of home they would do best in, but the people know more about the type of animal they are looking for. Of course, we always aim for a forever family, but we don't want to force it," she said.
Reed said it is important for families not to feel guilty if an adoption does not work out.
Her advice for people looking at bringing a pet into their home?
"Assess your lifestyle realistically," she said. "If you work long hours and there is no one at home, it may not be the best time to get a puppy."
Reed said shelters often see situations where the new pet and the owner's lifestyle do not match.
"People tend to think that they will change their lifestyle — if they get a hyper dog, they will start exercising more," she said. "But what will end up happening is that the dog will tear up the home because it has too much energy."
Rounding out her first month in Red Wing, Reed said she is looking forward to getting to know the people in the area.
"I am really hoping to engage with the community. We can't do this without Red Wing," she said. "We are your shelter, we are here to serve you."
The Humane Society of Goodhue County relies on a lot of assistance from volunteers, financially and operationally. Reed said dog walking is one of the more common volunteer activities, but she hopes people will think creatively if they would like to volunteer at the shelter.
"People could help by making tie blankets for kittens or helping us write up stories for each animal," she said. "If you have a passion for gardening, help us landscape the exterior of our building so it is inviting to visitors. Call or email us, and we can figure out how your talents can best help the shelter."
Learn more about the shelter at www.hsgcpets.org.