Pasadena Humane shines light on Animal Resource Center, ‘frontline’ workers

Pasadena Humane staff with dog

Tatihana Flores is an Animal Resource Specialist at Pasadena Humane. She’s pictured here with adoptable dog Luna (A501939), an 8-year-old terrier mix who is hoping to find a new home soon.

Many people find it hard to believe that we have 130 employees at Pasadena Humane. I wish I could introduce you to every one of these compassionate and hardworking professionals.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about some of the essential frontline jobs at an animal shelter and introduce you to a few of the dedicated people in those roles.

First up, we’ll head over to the Animal Resource Center, or “ARC”, as it is affectionately called by Pasadena Humane team members. The main goal of the Animal Resource Center is to support the welfare of the animals in our community, as well as the people who love them.

Working in ARC requires excellent customer service and listening skills paired with the ability to think fast on your feet. “No two days are the same, which is great because it keeps us on our toes, and we’re constantly learning and improving,” explains Tatihana Flores, an Animal Resource Specialist at Pasadena Humane.

Tatihana and her colleagues in ARC help pet owners in crisis by connecting them to resources for their pets. Animal Resource Specialists also facilitate the intake of stray animals, owner surrendered pets, injured wildlife, and deceased animals. And, they facilitate the return of lost animals to their owners, which is Tatihana’s favorite responsibility.

One reunification story in particular stands out for Tatihana. A stray dog named Happy arrived and was put up for adoption after no one claimed him during the stray hold period. A few weeks went by without Happy being adopted.

Then, Happy’s owner, an unhoused man who had been traumatically separated from his beloved dog, came into ARC looking for his pet. The man was overcome with tears when he found Happy still at the shelter, and Happy could not contain his joy at being reunited with his guardian.

“It’s the moments like this that really touch your heart and make this job so rewarding,” according to Tatihana.

For Tatihana, another great thing about working in ARC is building relationships with the animals. As one of the first points of contact for animals coming into the shelter, Tatihana and her colleagues are trained to make the intake process as stress-free for the animals as possible.

Most animals are anxious and nervous upon arrival. To help settle pets into their new temporary digs, Tatihana loves to walk through the kennels first thing in the morning or before she leaves for the day. She checks in on all the animals, tossing them a treat and reminding them that she cares.

Tatihana always brings a positive attitude to her job, but working in ARC has its share of heartache. The ARC team regularly meets with people who cannot afford veterinary treatment or who need help with basic pet care. Hardest of all for Tatihana are pet owners facing housing insecurity.

“With the current housing crisis and the overall economy, we see now more than ever that people are unable to keep pets in their homes,” shares Tatihana. “Pet-friendly housing is becoming scarcer and more expensive. This leaves owners feeling like they have no choice but to surrender their animals to the shelter.”

Our Animal Resource Specialists’ goal is to provide pet owners with the resources needed to keep their pets, but sometimes the only viable option is to bring the animals into the shelter. That’s when our Adoption Team steps in to try to find new homes for these pets as soon as possible.

Next week, we’ll hear from Adoption Counselor Ivy Gonzalez, who will give an insider perspective on one of our most celebrated activities at Pasadena Humane – adoption! I hope you’ll follow along.

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on March 10, 2023.