Anderson leaving AWL post

Love, compassion for animals drove director’s efforts


Misha Anderson is leaving her post as executive director of the Montgomery County Animal Welfare League. Anderson has been with the AWL for nine years and has guided the organization toward much success and growth.

The AWL board of directors is having a reception for Anderson from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Fusion 54, 101 W. Main St. The public is invited.

Anderson has many emotions about leaving a post she has truly loved. But, she said it was the love and compassion for animals that has told her it is time to move on.

“It is time,” Anderson said. “The stress and compassion fatigue is real. I have loved this job and loved our animals, but I need a break.”

Anderson said the quality of the board of directors and her employees will make it easier to walk out of the AWL doors on her last Monday.

“I know I am leaving this place in a better situation than when I came in nine years ago,” Anderson said. “I know everyone here loves the animals and wants them to be treated right. I am leaving knowing the people here know what to do and that is huge.”

Anderson said that the AWL has gone through major changes during her time as director. When she arrived, the shelter was euthanizing 84% of the animals it was taking in. Today, that figure has been reversed. The AWL has a safe rate of 86%.

“We have been able to save animals that before would have been euthanized,” Anderson said. “When I first came to the AWL that was something that I knew I needed to change.”

Other accomplishments during Anderson’s tenure, include a record number of community members being foster pet owners, being more visible in the community and growing a staff that matches her compassion and love for animals.

Anderson admits there are some days that end up being extremely difficult at the AWL. Mass animal hoarding situations are complex logistically and emotionally, she said. Just last week the shelter brought in 29 cats and kittens from one farm. The staff has dealt with numerous similar hoarding situations such as saving 100 dogs from one home.

The response from the community when there is a need has not gone unnoticed.

“We could not have done what we have without the support of our board of directors and community,” Anderson said. “People have responded when we needed them and that is one thing that makes this job so wonderful.”

Anderson referenced one incident that gained attention of animal lovers all over the nation. A cat, who the shelter named Phoenix, was a victim of animal abuse including being set on fire. Anderson led the fight to help save the cat and her efforts brought attention the horror of animal abuse cases across America. Although the efforts to try to save the cat fell short, she said the case was one example of compassion running throughout the community.

“Phoenix was a special cat and so many people reached out to help,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of stories like Phoenix and thankfully so many of those stories have better endings because of our community.”

Anderson has accepted a position with the Lebanon YMCA as aquatics director. She said the change will be just one of major changes in her life. She also plans to be married in August. She has three things she loves — animals, kids and water — and her new job will allow her to have two of the three loves.

Anderson expects to remain a volunteer at the AWL. She said the AWL family is important to her and she will be available. She also stated she desires to serve on the AWL board of directors some day in the future.


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