Wolf hybrids aside, new OCAS chief has big plans | Community

By most accounts, the wolf / German Shepherd hybrids in the wild should have happened in 2020. Dr Sandra Strong, who took over as CEO of Orange County Animal Services after Bob Marotto retired, said the situation, for several weeks, capturing the imaginations of the locals is quite common in terms of the types of hardships the refuge faces.

“It’s also the kind of thing that happens with people who collect animals,” Strong said. “These are common scenarios that we have to face. ”

How Orange County Animal Services is “dealing with it” is an area of ​​interest for its new director, who took over in June during the challenges of the pandemic, to have the equally arduous task of pulling the organization out of the way. the pandemic.

“I think most people and most businesses or anyone who works with other people or provides services during the pandemic are in the same situation,” said Strong, who is a veterinarian and certified in welfare. animal. “Don’t use what has become a cliché, but what’s the new normal? You hear this all the time, but how are we going to take what we’ve done and keep some of the good parts, and then keep moving forward? It will be a new hybrid.

Strong had been the Chief Veterinarian for Wake County since 2013. She had worked for several years with Bob Marotto at the NC Animal Federation, a professional board of animal shelters, humanitarian societies, municipal government shelters and human rights groups. animals. She said she had been drawn to municipal shelters and had worked with animal shelters as a vet for some time.

“It’s a public service, and I feel like we’re better able to really help people and animals, and I like the field component and working with the animal welfare officers.” , Strong said. “There is a future for seeing how we can help people with their pets or their pet issues. “

Strong took a few minutes to sit down with Orange News to talk about his plans for the organization.

NEWS FROM Orange County: What brought you from Wake County to Orange County?

Dr SANDRA STRONG: The desire to scale up and end more programs and hopefully impact more people, employees and animals. And Orange County is a big community.

CNO: Will you still be using your veterinarian skills in your new role?

DSS: I will, but it will not be in the traditional sense of examination and clinical work. I think being a vet gives a really good foundation for biosecurity, infectious disease and helping put things in place to keep our animal populations safe and healthy. I think this will be helpful for the animal welfare aspect of how to reduce stress, improve it for the animals in the shelter, and maybe help our animal officers know how to bring this stress. element on the ground and educate.

CNO: Will it be difficult for you not to step in where a vet would normally?

DSS: I’m here as a backup, but it would be really difficult to do two jobs. I’m trying to draw boundaries around this, but that doesn’t mean I’m not available. But I can’t do all the clinical work that needs to be done, nor manage or do all the work of the, hopefully really exciting, program and work with the employees and citizens of Orange County.

CNO: What were your first steps at OCAS?

DSS: I’m almost two months away, and so what I’m trying to do first is learn how everything is done. Animal shelters are fascinating in that they are all a little different. There are state laws regarding orientation, animals, then community laws and local ordinances regarding what the community has decided is acceptable for their shelter.

CNO: What are you looking to change at OCAS?

DSS: Orange County Animal Services is a well-functioning shelter, and it has good roots and strong bones, but there is a movement ahead for Animal Services. It is a human / animal support service, like the national movement. We’re still going to enforce laws and ordinances, but where we can, we’re going to see how we can help people take better care of their pets. I think Orange County would be a great place to start looking for ways to better help people, because if they are better able to take care of themselves and their pets, it is a very good script. An example of this happened in Durham, which was the original Unchained Dog Coalition, where they would walk around and build fences for people so their dogs didn’t have to be chained or tied up.

CNO: Others?

DSS: I think we may be able to have a more robust vet program here. We already have some great vets here, but I’m an assistant professor at NC State, so kind of a partnership where we have students in training here, or we have an internship or residency. This month we launched a feline health internship program. We have senior level animal science students from NC State that come here and get hands-on work with us and get credits or hours for their application.

CNO: What are you doing for fun?

DSS: I literally live a block from Homestead Park so I try to enter the park every morning early and hike the trails with my dogs.

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