Jane Stewart, executive director of the SPCA in Suwanee, is seen here with Karl, a St. Bernard who was rescued in January.
SPCA Director Jane Stewart helping our four-legged friends
What started out as a mother-daughter bonding experience, turned into a career for Jane Stewart. After being a flight attendant for eight years and then a stay-at-home mom for 14 years, Stewart said she was looking for a place to volunteer with her daughter.
She didn't want to take her 8-year-old to animal control for obvious reasons. So in 2007, she heard about the Georgia SPCA in Suwanee and stopped by there.
"They needed volunteers and they didn't mind me bringing my daughter," Stewart said. "She was wonderful. We came in together and she was so excited. She rolled up her sleeves and she cleaned some not-so-nice things. She did the dishes and we both just fell in love."
Stewart's love of volunteering at the SPCA paid off when she became an employee in 2008. She's gone from a part of the kennel staff to operations manager and is now the executive director. She said the experience of it all just sucked her in.
"When I started as a volunteer my mind was opened to what happens to animals," Stewart said, pointing out that about 200,000 animals are killed by animal control in Georgia each year. "I never realized how many were killed and that was just a thing that stuck with me and it bothered me that that many were being killed in animal control."
With that alarming statistic, Stewart said her main goal at the SPCA is education and the importance of microchipping animals. But she also hopes to steadily grow their adoptions.
"We definitely still have the main goal of helping cut down (on killings)," she said. "We can't adopt our way out of it and we get all that. And we know there will have to be some laws that change here in the state, but until then, we'll continue to, of course, do what we do."
The job takes up a lot of Stewart's time, but she said her husband and children are very supportive.
"I don't know what I would do without that man and my kids, too," she said. "They help me, they help my fosters, they help me here. I'm a full-time employee, but full time here means seven days a week."
All the hard work pays off in the end for Stewart. She said she loves seeing the animals go to great homes and running into the people later on and having them tell her how much the animal means to them.
If helping animals is your passion, Stewart urges the community to come to the second annual Run for the Rescues 5K. The race will be held at 9 a.m. March 24 at Suwanee Town Center Park. There will be a microchipping clinic, on-site adoptions and plenty of vendors.
"We'll have a lot of rescues that are going to come out," she said. "We want to let people know we're here and you can volunteer. You don't have to adopt but you can still help the ones that are still here hopefully for just a little while."
To register for the 5K, visit active.com.
Tori Boone, who lives in Suwanee, is a copy editor for the Daily Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.