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Lavelle to be new director of Beltrami Humane Society

Kathryn Lavelle holds Jasper at the Beltrami Humane Society. She will take over as the new director starting Feb. 1. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Kathryn Lavelle was 10 years old when she tried to save a nest of baby robins that was shot down by a B.B. gun by a neighbor boy.

Two of the bird survived, one did not.

"I like to save things," she said.

Lavelle has found the ideal fit for employment as she has been named the new director of the Beltrami Humane Society, which, on average, finds homes for 500-550 cats and dogs a year.

Her first day at the Humane Society will be Feb. 1. She now is working to familiarize herself with the staff, volunteers and the shelter itself. She has been attending committee and board meetings and getting to know the animals.

She previously was the former outreach and education coordinator for the Northwoods Coalition for Family Safety.

Lavelle said she is really looking forward to her new position and "bringing the Humane Society to where it should be."

"Everyone here has one common goal: We love animals and want to help with their care," she said.

One of the difficult aspects of her job is to make sure the animals receive quality care. To do so, the Humane Society has to limit the number of animals that it can house.

Lavelle noted that any other shelter, such as a women's shelter or homeless shelter, must do the same: limit its occupants to provide quality care or services.

The Humane Society is currently at its limits for cats and dogs.

Lavelle said if the shelter has too many cats, they can get sick.

"The quality of care suffers," she said.

One of her top concerns with the Humane Society is ensuring adequate funding for the facility.

She noted that despite what its name might imply, Beltrami County does not provide the shelter funding. Rather, its operational dollars all come from donations, the fees for surrendering and adopting animals and fundraisers.

The Humane Society spays and neuters its animals and socializes all of them prior to adoption.

"Each one of these animals has a story and some of them are quite horrific," she said.

As director, she will oversee the four paid staffers and 100-150 volunteers.

"There are a lot of volunteer opportunities here," she said. "Volunteers are necessary for our survival as an organization."