Names: Sue Stives and Leah Hapeman
What are your jobs?
Sue – Manager Volunteer Programs, DCSPCA, Leah – Assistant Shelter Manager, DCSPCA
What social causes are most important to you? Animal Welfare/Humane Education
What charity do you support – and how? Duchess County SPCA, a not for profit, no-kill shelter, saving lives for 141 years.
Sue: After volunteering at the shelter for 6 years, I left a lucrative sales career to work full time as the Volunteer Manager for the shelter.
Leah: Celebrating 10 years with the organization this year! I came, I interviewed, and I’ve never left! This is not just a job to us, it is a way of life.
Why do you have a passion for this one in particular, is there a personal tie?
Sue: I grew up in a home that fostered the importance of animal rescue and currently share my home with my husband and 5 Chihuahua rescues. I feel that every animal that comes into our shelter deserves to have that 2nd chance. This job can be tough and heart breaking at times, but at the end of the day, when you go home, you know that you have done everything you can to improve upon the lives of the animals currently with us. I still get Goosebumps when I see an animal that has been in our care, go out the door, with their new family. That’s why we are here.
Leah: In my 1st job working as a Kennel Attendant I saw the joy that animals brought to the lives of their owners. It became my responsibility to care for their animals while in my care. After the passing of the veterinarian that I worked for, it was my mission to succeed in the animal field. In my current job, I have become the caregiver for those animals that do not have owners and to find their forever owners.
Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
Sue: When looking to add pet to your home, please, please visit shelters and rescue organizations first. There are so many wonderful animals out there, just waiting for that 2nd chance at a new home. Make adoption your first option. Get involved, volunteer at your local animal shelter. Don’t feel sorry for the animals at our shelter, as they are the lucky ones, we will find them permanent homes and happy futures. You can be a part of solution by walking dogs, socializing our cats and supporting fundraisers and outreaches. I guarantee that you will feel good after doing so.
Leah: Visit your local shelter and to understand that the animals in shelters are not damaged goods. Many are here for reasons that are through no fault of their own. Often animals are brought in because of loss of home, loss of job or divorces and in cases of animal abuse, they too are here by no fault of their own.
How would you define social responsibility?
Sue: I believe that we have a responsibility to protect and help those who cannot speak for themselves, the animals that are in need. We are responsible to teach and pass on this mission on to the younger generation in an effort to raise awareness going forward.
Leah: We have a responsibility to educate the community as to what our mission is and that is to be the safety net of the homeless and abused animals.
Do you have any tattoos that relate to your work?
Sue: I currently have 3 tattoos – The DCSPCA Shelter Logo sits on my right shoulder, to remind me daily of our mission; I have a portrait tattoo on my leg of Sophie one of my Chihuahuas who was rescued from a Puppy Mill. On my left wrist is a bracelet with my anniversary date in the center to remind me of my best friend and most avid supporter – my husband.
Leah: I have several tattoos of one my passions, which are frogs. When I happened upon the new shelter logo, I knew that it would be the next passion (tattoo) my body.