The next general manager of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is Amber Rowland, who succeeds Melanie Sobel, who left in July after 11 years and is now head of the Denver Animal Shelter.
County parks chief Jeff Gaffney has been interim general manager.
Rowland’s first day will be Thursday, March 23.
She will oversee shelter, field, and outreach operations with an annual budget of $5 million and 30 employees.
“I am so excited to get started working with the people and animals of Santa Cruz County,” Rowland said. “I am passionate about socially conscious sheltering practices and committed to working collaboratively with the Board, the staff and the community to maintain SCCAS’ position as one of the most respected shelters in California.”
With 17 years in animal services, Rowland has experience as a shelter leader, developing programs, facilities, operations and policies for animal welfare goals in the city of Austin, Texas, which agreed to limit euthanizations to 10 percent.
As a program manager with Austin Animal Services, Rowland supervised staff and volunteers, planned and executed major operational changes and events, and served as the public face of the agency. She also has experience as an animal control officer and humane educator for Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Rowland was approved unanimously by the shelter board on Feb. 13 following a competitive nationwide search.
“We sought someone who would build on our amazing internal staff and operations as well as strengthen our relationships with the community,” Board Chair Chris Clark said. “Amber has the right skills, experience and temperament to make her an excellent choice as our next director.”
Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is a publicly funded joint powers authority serving the County of Santa Cruz, and the cities of Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Watsonville, and Capitola.
It is an open admission shelter which welcomes every animal in need, with a goal to be a humane resource for the community by providing a safety net and second chance for local animals.
With locations in Live Oak and Watsonville, the shelter offers adoption services, low-cost spay/neuter programs for all resident pets, 24-hour rescue services, Catio Tours, and operates the Benefits Shop.