Sep 30, 2021

Celebrating 2020 Staff Milestones Service Awards


Join us in celebrating the recipients of the 2020 Staff Milestone Service Awards!

Every year, we celebrate the amazing staff who have dedicated their time and effort to DCHS over the years with Staff Milestone Service Awards. We’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate staff who are receiving a 2020 milestone of achievement for their outstanding dedication and accomplishments in support of helping people help animals.

Five Years

Erin Kruckenberg

Erin started at DCHS in 2013 as a wildlife volunteer. She was then hired as a member of Carestaff and Volunteer Coordinator, where she kept on top of protocols and taught them to new critter, feline, and canine volunteers. She took a yearlong sabbatical to travel, and returned to DCHS to work in Animal Medical Services as an operations assistant, where she helped in assisting surgeries, ordering, and many other duties. Six months later, Erin joined the Canine Behavior Team as a CBT Assistant, and was soon promoted to a CBT Specialist, the role she holds today.

She’s done amazing work in every role she’s held. Moreover, the variety of positions she’s held has allowed her to experience many different perspectives across the shelter, and they all serve her well as a CBT Specialist. Her work ethic has led her to achieve certifications in both Fear Free Shelter and Shelter Playgroup Alliance, and she is a member of the IAABC and LIMA. She just attained her Shelter Behavior Affiliate certification.

Her thoughtful nature, passion for animal behavior, and love of learning are incredible assets to DCHS. She’s become an integral member of the Canine Behavior Team because of her commitment to improving DCHS operations while showing great compassion in the work she does, for the people she works with, and for the animals she helps care for.

Aisha Jansen

Recently of Clear The Shelters adoption event fame, Aisha began her DCHS career in June of 2015 as a Shelter Resource Counselor. She quickly impressed her colleagues and was promoted to Senior Shelter Resource Counselor the following May and was again promoted to Shelter Resource Supervisor just two months later.

She has since excelled in the role. Her strong analytical skills have helped her become an integral part of making major procedural changes in the operations of DCHS’s Adoptions and Reception departments, including initial implementation of managed intake and DCHS’s “Adopters Welcome” philosophies. Most recently, Aisha participated in designing, implementing, and communicating the many major procedural changes DCHS made to adapt to Covid-19. She led staff through the changes with calm, caring, and humor.

In addition to her work as Shelter Resource Supervisor, Aisha also lends her talents to DCHS by participating in committees like the Wellness Committee, helping organize social activities for staff to raise morale. Her kindness, empathy, and willingness to listen are appreciated by all.

Erin Lemley

Erin began her DCHS tenure in May 2015 as a Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator. She transitioned to her current role of Wildlife Certified Veterinary Technician in March of this year. Prior to her employment at DCHS, she was a crucial member of the wildlife volunteer team. She enjoyed the experience so much, she elected to change course and enroll at MATC’s vet tech program, graduating in 2015. She gained significant wildlife tech experience by completing her training at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Minnesota and working at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center as an animal care technician. Additionally, she has been a National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association member and workshop coordinator for many years now, and she is one of DCHS’s three International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Certified Wildlife Rehabilitators on staff.

In addition to the work she does for DCHS, Erin is an instructor for the MATC vet tech program, and she helped secure the new Wildlife Medicine Grant this year through the UW Veterinary School, Special Species program. Her noteworthy accomplishments and her abundance of technical and veterinary knowledge bring an incredible wealth to DCHS’s Wildlife Center.

Ten Years

Patty Zehl

Patty joined DCHS in September 2010 as the Volunteer Coordinator, the position she continues in today. Over the years, she has been the driving force behind keeping the volunteer program well organized and innovative, with a focus not just on recruitment, but also on training, recognition, and retention. She has helped create, implement, and improve many aspects of DCHS’s volunteer program, from volunteer orientations to volunteer recognition, from Barkins to food pantry donations, and from composting to gardening. She has great attention to detail, completes every assignment with great thoroughness and accuracy, is one of the most organized people you’ll ever meet, and has developed an incredible system of documenting procedures and instructions for every task.

She has automated many paper forms shelter-wide, including automating DCHS’s volunteer application, saving countless hours of staff time across the organization. She is always thinking of new ways for volunteers to help DCHS and ways to improve the experience both for volunteers and for staff. Because of her skills and abilities, DCHS has a thriving, active volunteer program that is a model for other shelters.

Twenty Years

Sarah Byerley

Sarah started at DCHS as an Animal Caretaker in October of 2000. Over the years, she has been a Senior Animal Caretaker, an Admitting Technician, and a Veterinary Technician. In February 2006, she was promoted to be DCHS’s Animal Medical Services Supervisor, and two years later she was promoted again to be DCHS’s Animal Operations Director, the role she holds today. During her time at DCHS, Sarah has flourished professionally, achieving a multitude of milestones.

Over the past twenty years, Sarah has excelled in every position she has held. Her expertise in animal welfare, her extensive skills and knowledge of animal care, and her strength and care for others make her a great leader. She has been instrumental in bettering operations at DCHS and has implemented numerous positive changes, like: improving enrichment for all animals in DCHS’s care, introducing Playgroups and Outings and Overnights for canines, removing medical barriers to adoptions, increasing the types of medical conditions DCHS is able to treat, and restructuring the Canine Volunteer program, just to name a few.

She has also created and mastered the art of rounds to ensure all animals are checked daily, meaning DCHS staff can meet their needs and provide high quality care for them. This is a crucial part of DCHS’s operations, and her efforts in this area not only helped lead DCHS to Adoption Guarantee status, they also help maximize resources and minimize expenses, all while expanding DCHS’s reach.

Along with consistently improving internal operations, Sarah has done extraordinary work in managing the external relationships DCHS has with fellow animal organizations. She has fostered the growth of DCHS’s partnership with the UW School of Veterinary Medicine and DCHS’s Ambulatory Program, as well as headed transfer relationships with Greater Birmingham Humane Society and the ASPCA. She has excelled in coordinating EBI Training Courses, allowing those from neighboring shelters the opportunity to learn and become certified in the area.

As a member of DCHS’s Leadership Team, Sarah has achieved and maintained balanced budgets and has played a central role in creating and executing DCHS’s Strategic Plans. She has taken the shelter to a higher standard of care through her dedicated efforts with all animal operation areas and her work with building projects such as Animal Medical Services, Dog Isolations and Quarantine, and adding portals to the cat condos.

Most recently, Sarah took a lead role in Covid-19 operations. Over the past year-and-a-half, she has gone above and beyond in developing new systems and protocols to keep DCHS’s staff safe. Thanks to her efforts, DCHS was able to revamp the transfer program in a way that minimized cross-traffic and allowed for social distancing as much as possible, as well as refine intake processes to maintain a feasible animal population. All of this helped contribute to making it possible for DCHS to continue operating and caring for animals in need.

Many Thanks and Congratulations to Our Incredible Staff!

Want to join this amazing team and celebrate your own milestone in five years? Check out our current job openings!

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