Guilford County’s top dog catcher, Animal Control Supervisor Lisa Lee, left that job on Sunday, Feb. 17, but she hasn’t gone far at all: On Monday, Feb. 18  Lee – who began heading up Animal Control in June 2017– started her new job as the community engagement manager for Guilford County’s Animal Services.

Though Lee will no longer be the county’s chief dog – or cat, rooster, goat and so on – catcher, she’ll still get to interact with the county’s cats and dogs as part of her new job working with the public to help those animals get adopted.

Guilford County Animal Services director Jorge Ortega said this week that he’s very excited about Lee taking the job and he added that the community engagement position is a much-needed addition to his department.

“This is a new position that was created a few months ago,” Ortega said. “This position was needed five years ago.”

This is the second bit of recent news regarding the Animal Shelter’s outreach to the community: Guilford County Animal Services also just received grant money that will allow it to hire a consultant to enhance its social media outreach efforts.  Ortega said that, currently, the plans call for that new consultant to work with the shelter for six months.

As the new community engagement manager, Lee will be the county employee with direct oversight of shelter adoption events and social media efforts.  She’ll also work with community partners to help increase adoption rates and raise public awareness of spay and neuter programs as well as other shelter initiatives.

The county’s Animal Services Department and its Animal Shelter have come under a great deal of criticism in recent years over a perceived lack of effective outreach using social media.  Some common complaints are that pictures of adoptable animals aren’t frequently displayed on the shelter’s Facebook page and also that the county has refused to take relatively simple steps to help the animals – such as including a “donate” button on the Facebook page.  Many other shelters around the country engage in a much more active use of social media to address shelter overcrowding and funding issues.

Now that Guilford County suddenly has not one but two people newly focused on social media and community outreach, animal lovers in the county are hoping improvements are just around the corner.

Lee said this week that she’s very excited about working with the public, shelter partners and the media to raise the visibility of the animals at the shelter.  She said Animal Services also just got a great new tool in that effort – a new top of the line puppy-mobile – a trailer that makes it easy to load up dogs or cats and transport them.  Once at the destination, the trailer converts into a puppy or cat showroom, which makes it easy to keep the animals in front of potential adopters.

Ortega said this week that the shelter’s Facebook page is going to get a donate button soon and he added that the public can expect to see a lot of other changes as well in the county’s outreach efforts and in its use of social media.

“I am not sitting around waiting for stuff to happen,” he said. “We’re making stuff happen.  It’s not happening as fast as I would like but it’s going to happen.”