Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team
Leslie Fatum has served in the Air Force, earned a degree in Veterinary Medicine and graduated from law school. She's worked in public health, as a labor and employment attorney, and as General Counsel for the State of Indiana's Department of Workforce Development. In September 2005, she took the position of Administrator for Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. Says Fatum, "When this position opened up I figured I could use a bit of almost everything I had learned up until now - and incorporate my passion for animals."
During her first year on the job, Leslie was like a sponge, soaking up information from all quarters. "I threw myself into reading. I spent a lot of time on the internet, and I spent a lot of time talking to people. I've learned a great deal from my own staff and from my peers at other animal welfare organizations. I quickly understood the importance of a diversity of opinion. The different philosophies in animal welfare are very interesting; the emotions on all sides are very intense. "
Early on she established a monthly roundtable, inviting participation from all animal groups, especially those who had felt excluded by previous administrations. Fatum is skilled at bringing people together and she very much enjoys the process. But her motive wasn't entirely altruistic. "We can't operate successfully without assistance, support, and input from other organizations - we need them because we simply don't have the resources to do it all by ourselves," she acknowledges.
At her own agency, Leslie concentrated on the basics: building a strong management team, improving the shelter culture, and working with staff to give every animal a second chance.
Now in her second year, Fatum is focused on adoptions. The goals this year are to break the 2,000 barrier and to increase transfers from 2,300 to 3,500. She also wants to generate more publicity and build better public relations to enhance her agency's image. Anti-tethering legislation and spay/neuter ordinances for dangerous dogs are also on the agenda.
When it comes to management style, Fatum is a big believer in collaboration, transparency and accountability. "I love and agree with the idea of asking people to work together; it takes all groups working on common goals to succeed. I also love the idea of transparency, putting the numbers out there. Some statistics are already up on our website; all others are available to anyone who asks for them. We want people to know what we do, why we do it, where we're headed. We want them to know about euthanasia but we also want them to see more animals leaving the shelter alive every month."
In Fatum's opinion, the city of Indianapolis is poised to make a huge lifesaving leap forward. She cites the City Council's approval of a TNR ordinance that allows free roaming and unowned cats to be cared for by colony caregivers instead of taken into the shelter. Cat complaint calls to Animal Control are now directed to IndyFeral, and it is up to that organization to resolve the problems. As a result, cat intakes have gone down 35 to 40% in recent months.
She also cites a growing community-wide interest in working together to end the killing.
Only one obstacle remains: lack of resources. "But that isn't insurmountable," says Fatum, "if I can get the community involved."
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