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Friday, 04 October 2013 11:33

Shelter director building relationships to better serve needs of animals, people

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Rock County Humane Society Executive Director Brett Frazier holds a kitten at the Janesville shelter. A few months into his new leadership position, Frazier said he is pleased the shelter has been able to establish new relationships with area businesses and always is looking at ways to better serve residents and animals. Rock County Humane Society Executive Director Brett Frazier holds a kitten at the Janesville shelter. A few months into his new leadership position, Frazier said he is pleased the shelter has been able to establish new relationships with area businesses and always is looking at ways to better serve residents and animals. Dennis Hines/staff

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Forming partnerships with local groups and businesses is one of Brett Frazier’s main goals as executive director for the Rock County Humane Society. Read the current edition here:

Frazier was hired in June, and several partnerships already have been formed since then.

Blain’s Farm & Fleet recently announced that it will provide cat and dog food for the humane society. The retailer’s commitment is just one example of the type of support the humane society receives from local businesses, Frazier said.


“We’re real excited about this partnership. Blain’s Farm & Fleet is an example of what’s best about the Rock County businesses,” Frazier said. “Whenever there is a need in the community, they are willing to help out. It makes our work that much easier when we receive assistance from businesses like Farm & Fleet. They will be providing us with an awful lot of cat and dog food over the course of the year.”

The society also has established a satellite location at the Petco store in Janesville. The store serves as an adoption site for cats and kittens.

“People are excited to see us there, and we’ve had cats and kittens there so it’s been fun for folks to stop by to play with a cat or kitten and maybe take one home,” Frazier said. “Dogs are more difficult (to have at the satellite location) because they need space to walk and more space to move around, so we’ll probably do some mobile adoptions there.

“We’ll take some dogs out on a Saturday morning or something like that. As far as the permanent animals, it will probably always be cats and kittens.”

Frazier said having a satellite location will allow the humane society to have people adopt cats in a more timely manner.

“We think the more people who see our cats and kittens, the faster we will be able to find them safe and loving homes, and Petco had the room available and it just all kind of came together. It’s a perfect fit at the perfect time…,” Frazier said. “They’re a business that gets a lot more foot traffic and drive-by traffic on a daily basis than our shelter does. So to have our animals out there is great, because it brings awareness to those specific animals and to the general need in Rock County.”

Frazier said more satellite locations may be established in the future.

“We, at any given point, can have at least a hundred cats in our facility, and we know there’s a greater need than that for taking in surrendered cats,” Frazier said. “So the more we can get those cats to different locations and different parts of the county, that will help us find those animals homes. It will open space here at the shelter, and it will allow us to ultimately help more animals.”

Frazier also aims to re-establish the society’s relationships with local municipalities in regard to dealing with stray animals.

“Most jobs like this come down to relationships, how you work with the people you see,” he said. “I’ve set out to rebuild some bridges with the municipalities, with the community in general and with our customers. That’s been hard, but good work.”

Society board president Debbie Mills said there is “no doubt” that Frazier is doing an outstanding job.

“There have been so many positive things happening in four short months, including huge community support and very positive feedback ...,” Mills said. “He is always brimming with ideas on how to make things better and is not willing to settle for good enough.”

Lois Corwin, founder and executive director of the Friends of Noah-Wisconsin animal rescue group, said she, too, has enjoyed working with Frazier.

“We started working with him about a month ago. We took in a foster dog for him,” Corwin said. “I find that he is great to work with. He is personable and a great communicator.

“He cares about the future of the humane society. Rock County needs a quality-run humane society, and it’s nice to see that Brett is willing to take the challenge.”

As Frazier continues to meet the challenges, he has several ongoing goals for the organization.

For one, he wants the shelter to host more community programs, such as low-cost microchipping clinics for local pet owners. A microchip is embedded under the animal’s skin, which allows the pet to be identified by passing a microchip scanner over the skin.

“Microchipping is something that makes our jobs so much easier, so we want to encourage that in our location,” Frazier said.

Another goal is to provide more space for the humane society, with the possibility of moving to a new location within the next several years.

“We realize we have some limitations with our current facility, so we will be looking for ways to make this facility work in the short term,” Frazier said. “(W)e will be looking to make minor adjustments to make sure we’re not only serving the animals well, but serving the people well who come into our facility to adopt and take advantage of our other services.”

The society receives about 2,000 animals a year; about 1,000 animals are adopted and another 500 are reunited with their owners. Besides providing animal adoptions, the humane society provides pet food and supplies to low-income pet owners.

“Very often, we’ll get a call to surrender an animal. When we get into the reasons, it’s often they can’t afford to feed it or they can’t afford to take it to the vet,” Frazier said. “Those are problems that we can solve or help solve through some of our partners who offer us free food.”

The humane society always is in need of donations.

“Normally, folks are dropping by with food, cat toys, dog toys, dog beds and cat beds. Pretty much anything your pet uses, we use 10 or 20 times more,” Frazier said. “We’re going to be putting up a wish list on our new website ... then we’ll have some specific items that we’ll be looking to get, and we always need the basics -- towels, blankets and food.”

The humane society also offers volunteer opportunities for residents.

“If you can’t adopt a pet, you can still get involved with things as glamorous as dog walking to things as dirty as cleaning a kennel or cat enclosure,” Frazier said. “We have a couple of folks who pick weeds or keep the lawn up. There’s always ways to get involved.”

Barking up the right tree

Before coming to the Rock County Humane Society, Frazier worked as executive director of the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce. Frazier said he feels his experience and his love for animals will help him be an effective leader for the humane society.

“I was looking for a position where I could make a difference and help people,” Frazier said. “Here, we have an opportunity to do that. We help animals, but ultimately this is a people business. We help people adopt animals. We help people afford their animals. We help people take better care of their animals.”

Frazier said he and his wife have several animals at home. His wife is a manager at a veterinary clinic in Madison.

“I initially thought this would be a good fit for her, but when I got a little deeper into it and saw some of the areas of need with more of the community relationship and the nonprofit management and someone with strong business sense, I thought this was something I should throw my hat in the ring for,” Frazier said.

Frazier also serves as the mayor of Milton, a position he was elected to in April. So far, he hasn’t had much problem handling both responsibilities he said.

“I always joke with folks that if you drive by city hall at 9 o’clock at night, you will see my office light on. That’s where I am,” Frazier said. “It’s, perhaps, some long days, but when you sign on for stuff like this you know that’s what you’re agreeing to. It’s a lot of responsibility, but being in this type of work and being mayor, you ask for it.”

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