Many fuzzy members of the Beatrice community are in new hands this new year.
The Beatrice Humane Society has hired Carlee Fiddes as shelter manager to oversee day-to-day operations of the shelter. Though she started on Jan. 2, Fiddes said she and her staff are hard at work to prepare for the challenges of the new year.
Fiddes said she has been all over the country working in many different positions, but passionately and diligently helping animals has always been her calling. She began working as a veterinary technician at age 18 and has been working in animal care ever since.
She received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Kansas State University, and a master’s degree in shelter management from Colorado State University. She has worked extensively in veterinary medicine and has done constant volunteer work in pet shelters across the nation. Before coming to Beatrice, she managed a branch of the Pennsylvania ASPCA.
Fiddes said she is confident she can help the Beatrice Humane Society accomplish new goals.
“I’m ready to be the person who moves this organization to the next tier,” Fiddes said.
Being the voice of the animals is the key to the job for Fiddes, who said she is particularly proud to work in a place where she can advocate for animals that have no one else to advocate for them.
Beatrice should be proud of its humane society, Fiddes said, because it is a no-kill shelter, which is rare for a shelter of Beatrice’s size. She commended the work that has already been done at the Beatrice Humane Society.
John Rypma, chairman of the Beatrice Humane Society's Board of Directors, said the addition of Fiddes to the shelter and the community is exciting.
"She comes to us with a lot of experience and a lot of education," Rypma said. "She has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. She has the personality and the skill set to become very involved in our community."
Rypma noted that as shelter manager, Fiddes is responsible for all aspects of the shelter from scheduling and finances to helping clean cages and find more volunteers.
“They have done so much already with the support of our community,” Fiddes said “The majority of small rural shelters don’t make it to this point.”
In the short term, Fiddes said, the shelter is looking for ways to prepare for kitten season, which typically begins in spring and could last throughout the summer. The shelter needs to prepare for an influx in their cat population, possibly even 20-40 new arrivals each week.
To be ready, Fiddes said the shelter needs to have an adequate stockpile of food and supplies prepared, and they are working to line up homes for the new cats ahead of time.
Fiddes also mentioned that the shelter runs a kitten foster program, which allows locals to take care of a few kittens for a matter of weeks to alleviate pressure from the staff and volunteers.
The shelter is also working on training its staff and volunteers to raise the standard of care that it is able to provide to its animals.
Fiddes said she also has bigger plans for the next few years, and hopes to achieve some large milestones. One big step for the shelter will be attempting to spay and neuter almost all of the pet population of Beatrice and the surrounding area. This will help decrease the number of cats that are brought into the shelter over time.
Another goal is to spread the practice of microchipping, in which pets have a small microchip about the size of a grain of rice implanted under their skin. This allows the animal to be identified when scanned at shelters, which vastly increases the rate of animals that can be returned to their owners when lost.
Fiddes said the transition has gone well so far, and she is impressed with her amazing staff and volunteers.
“I already love the place and love the people,” Fiddes said.
Fiddes said that locals can support the Beatrice Humane Society by adopting pets, donating money and supplies, volunteering and raising awareness about the shelter.