ST. ALBANS –– The free-roaming black cats in the Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS) lobby were having a lazy Saturday morning when a young woman in a red shirt entered and announced, “I’m looking for a friend for Teddy.”
FCHS Director Rusty Posner smiled. “You’ve come to the right place,” she said. “We might have a couple of dogs that could be a good match for you and your family. Why don’t you visit with a few, take some for a walk, and see what you think?”
This is a common scene at the FCHS, located on Sunset Meadow, where a sign on the lobby wall speaks the truth for Posner, her staff, and their pool of 50-plus volunteers: “All my friends have hairy legs.”
“The joy I find in this work is in just knowing you made a difference in people’s and animals’ lives,” Posner said. “You really have to have a true commitment to animals to be in this line of work and get the job done.”
Posner is busy prepping for two imminent events: the FCHS’s annual Calcutta, on Oct. 11; and the FCHS Annual Meeting, which is open to the public, scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the LaQuinta Hotel, in St. Albans.
“We’re always busy here,” Posner said.
Posner works with a dedicated staff: Linda Corwell, office manager and administrator of the organization’s busy Facebook page, which has nearly 3,000 friends; Karla White, kennel supervisor; Michael Scott, dog adoption and training; Jen Hilliker, feline specialist; and two part-time workers.
The property contains a 15-to-18-capacity dog kennel and two separate cat rooms with a total capacity for 35.
“The need is always greater than the capacity,” Posner said. The FCHS has recently seen more animals in light of current economic conditions, she explained, because people either have to relocate or downsize and cannot do so with pets.
Animal adoption is just one FCHS service; it also offers: pet therapy; a weekly, low-cost spay/neuter clinic; pets for seniors and veterans; educational programs; and free pet food for people in need.
The FCHS operates under a seven-person board that meets monthly (minus July and December). The annual budget is calculated based on how much the FCHS raises through events, donations, and bequests.
Posner said she encourages all local towns to have contracts for cats as well as dogs, because if a stray feline hurts a resident, the town could be liable.
“The responsibility of caring for stray animals is also a municipal responsibility,” she said.
Posner has worked in many capacities at the shelter since it opened in 1996 and became the director in 2011. The FCHS opened in 1964 with a group of local volunteers.
Posner’s parents raised her to appreciate, love, and care for animals. She might retire in the next three to four years, but she’ll stay at the FCHS on some level.
“I definitely need to be involved in some way,” she said.