The lobby of the Athens Area Humane Society is bustling with activity. The front desk phone is ringing constantly, volunteers are checking in and out, animals are being retrieved from the spay and neuter clinic, and a litter of puppies, oblivious to the commotion, is enjoying a nap the room over.
This is another typical day on the job for Leah Trotter, Director of Communications and Outreach for the Athens Area Humane Society (AAHS). It takes a small army to run an organization like AAHS, and Trotter ensures that the society has the volunteer force and donations necessary to do so.
Leah Trotter grew up in Oconee County, which neighbors Athens-Clarke County. She attended Valdosta State University, and returned to the Athens area following graduation. Trotter started working for AAHS in 2011 as an adoption counselor and animal tech. She helped take care of the animals and perform the adoptions. Two years later, she began her current position as director of communications and outreach.
“It’s almost like events coordinator and operations manager in one," says Trotter, ”working here you kind of wear all the hats.”
She helps secure donations, plans a multitude of events, runs AAHS’ social media accounts, and some days may even help with transporting cats to the vet.
“I do events, anything that we do out in the community, volunteer fairs,” says Trotter, “No two days are the same.”
The Athens Area Humane Society, currently in its 25th year, typically has 115-120 animals in its care at one time. According to the organization’s website, it is responsible for the rescue and care of more than 1,000 animals annually. The society is a nonprofit, no-kill, donor supported organization. It receives no funding from the government or any other national humane organizations.
With so many animals to care for, AAHS depends on the help of the Athens-Clarke community for donations, foster homes, and adoptions. Leah Trotter makes sure those bases are covered by getting information out to the community.
“What I do impacts [the animals] because it gets people coming through the door, " says Trotter. Many people who come to AAHS mention seeing photos of specific animals posted to the shelter’s Instagram.
Jane Stewart, Executive Director of AAHS, said Trotter is special because, ”She’s really good at what she does. Social media is a big part of it, but she loves animals and that’s very obvious.”
“I think her warm, kind nature benefits the animals she comes in contact with, but also helps her deal with the people,” Stewart said.
It was made clear by Trotter’s coworkers that she has a unique ability to blend communication and customer service skills with a true love for animals.
Maddie Thykeson first met Leah Trotter when she was a volunteer at the humane society. The pair now works closely on many projects.
“Leah does a great job of making sure that the animals are seen by the public,” said Thykeson, “Without her work, these animals would struggle to be seen, slower to be adopted, and the overall number of animals that we could save would drop dramatically,” said Thykeson, “We cannot imagine functioning without her.”
Renay Gregorie, an animal tech and adoption counselor at AAHS, has worked with Leah for the past two years.
“I really think she has a heart for animals”, said Gregorie, ”I could call her if I need anything, and even if that’s not in her job description, she’ll be willing to do that."
“She does it all for the animals,” said Gregorie.
As an elderly cat leaps onto the desk, Trotter says that her favorite part of the job is that she gets to meet every person and animal that comes through the shelter door. She has big visions for the future of the Athens Area Humane Society.
“I think one day I would really like for us to get to where you come to Athens, you see the stadium, you watch the Dawgs, and then you come to the humane society,” said Trotter.
At the end of the day it’s all about, “Getting [the people in the community] touching the animals’ lives in some way,” said Trotter.
For more information about the Athens Area Humane Society and volunteer opportunities, please visit http://www.athenshumanesociety.org/.