Everybody knows that the Humane Society of Yukon takes care of our beloved animals in distress at the society-run Mae Bachur Animal Shelter. But who takes care of the people who take care of the animals?
Well, that would be Brent Slobodin, the president of the local Humane Society.
“It is a vital operation and we run it on a shoestring,” he said from a desk he borrowed at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.
“A lot of it is a labour of love; we do it for the animals and a lot of people are willing to help us.”
A lot of people.
Slobodin lists them off: a paid staff that keeps the non-profit facility running while pets are found homes; there are volunteer dog walkers that range from one to six a day; foster families; volunteers who run the Wednesday Bingo games at the Elk’s Hall; volunteers who help out with garage sales, golf tournaments and any other fundraising event they can come up with; and a board of directors that takes care of the paperwork and planning for all of this.
Putting those plans into action, and keeping all of those people happy and productive, is the executive director Dan Moore.
“Dan gives us a monthly report,” Slobodin said of his own management style. “He doesn’t need me to come down and say how I want things to run.
“So I talk with Dan on the phone more than coming down here.
“He has a busy staff and they all have a busy day.”
With Moore in place, Slobodin says he can work on finishing the society’s constitution and working with the treasurer on finances. Then there is reaching out to the board members to keep them connected.
“Our board is a ‘working board,’” he says. “We don’t have a large staff that can do much more beyond taking care of the animals.
“We have a good core group and a great treasurer; we have been able to sort out our finances and get on an even keel.”
When Slobodin joined the board two and a half years ago, it was a turbulent time and there were ongoing controversies. Board members were leaving. He could have found an easier society to join. Since high school, he has lived a life of volunteerism. More recently he was president of the Yukon Historical Museums Association – “That fit me perfectly because of my background in history.”
He was also a baseball coach – “Because it gave me the opportunity to be out on the field with my boys at night.”
And he was on the board for Challenge Disability Resource Group – “I really believe in what they are doing.”
Combine this volunteering background with his 23 years working for Yukon Government, mostly in Advanced Education as a director and assistant deputy minister, Slobodin was identified as someone who could help.
“The person who asked me to help out gave me a sense the organization needed help,” he said.
“This is one of those organizations that have some really good hearts in it, but not always those with management skills.”
Today, things have turned around. “There was some controversy in the past, but that is not us now,” Slobodin said. “We are doing well; people see us out in the community; and the government has reinvested in us.”
But they still need more people. Slobodin says there are a lot of people retiring early who, like him, need to keep busy. And young people tend to volunteer with sports organizations, but he says the Humane Society needs their “enthusiasm and energy”.
People can volunteer at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter or through its website at www.HumaneSocietyYukon.ca.
In addition, the 2018 Whitehorse Firefighters Calendar is available through the website and at The Feed Store. Proceeds go to the Humane Society.