MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - For nearly all of 2018, The Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County has been without a director.
Last month, Ellen Zahariadis was named director.
“What I’m really trying to do is get immersed in all things Humane Society,” said Zahariadis.
The recently named director of the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County comes with a non-profit background.
She served as the Executive Director of Susan G Komen North Central Alabama for 14 years.
“I have a lot of experience with fundraising. I have a lot of experience with organizational development, helping organizations grow,” said Zahariadis.
One new challenge Zahariadis has had to face is how to tackle animal abuse and neglect in Shelby County.
“One of the very first conversations I had with the board of directors really before I even started was about animal cruelty and how we are addressing that,” said Zahariadis.
The Humane Society often has an animal cruelty investigator on staff, someone who responds to abuse calls and issue state level charges if needed.
At the beginning of last year, the investigator was able to help prosecutors convict or get guilty pleas in five animal cruelty cases and three cases are still pending.
However, that position has been vacant since May.
Zahariadis is tasked with figuring out how the investigative component will look in the future.
“To look at what we are doing, what we can do how we want to see our role in that community and make recommendations to the board,” said Zahariadis.
In 2018, the Humane Society has taken in more than 700 animals, 85 percent have been adopted.
Zahariadis said the mission is to take care of the whole animal and so far she’s impressed.
“They’re being loved. They’re being cuddled. They’re being talked to,” said Zahariadis.