There are no job vacancies at the Humane Society of Central Arizona (HSCAZ) because people who work there stay.

They stay because they love the work, caring for animals in need, and they stay because Annie Benedict and DJ Palmer, co-executive directors, have created an environment they hope encourages employees to grow.

Nicole LeBeau and Chris Thompson are two examples of how positive leadership and a team environment are good for the organization and the individuals who work there. They have both worked at the shelter for four years.

LeBeau, a veterinary tech at HSCAZ, is flying to Jamaica on Sept. 25 with an international spay-neuter network (ISNN) to perform spay and neuters. The island has a high population of feral cats.

“Nicole is going for experience using different techniques and ideas in a high volume veterinary environment,” said Benedict.

“Veterinary techs and veterinarians from everywhere are willing to travel to Jamaica and help reduce the overpopulation of cats and dogs on the island,” said LeBeau. “We’re going to help reduce unwanted litters on the island. It’s all donation based.”

HSCAZ paid for LeBeau’s flight as part of her continuing education training. LeBeau made a $150 donation for her room, food and drinks while she’s there.

Volunteers will take as many medical supplies as they can for the program and to support the island, which has limited access to veterinary care.

“Examples include flea and tick prevention, dewormers, catheters, fluid bags, things that people can’t afford to pay for over there,” said LeBeau.

HSCAZ’s previous veterinarian reached out to Palmer as the program had two veterinary technicians back out, and Palmer offered the opportunity to LeBeau.

LeBeau worked her way up in the organization from kennel technician, cleaning kennels and helping with animals every day. Palmer offered her a position on the medical staff team and she trained as a veterinary technician.

“I’m very excited to go to Jamaica,” said LeBeau about learning new skills.

Chris Thompson is the behavioral lead at HSCAZ.

Besides going through shelter canine behavior training, attending Bound Angels University three times and earning 100 apprentice hours under Robert Cabral; he became a certified American Kennel Club (AKC) trainer/evaluator, one of only two in the Rim Country.

“The online test is only part of it,” said Thompson. “The main thing is getting the experience, working in a shelter setting with dogs, teaching puppy classes, and working with groups of people.”

“Achieving the AKC certification refreshed my love and passion for this job and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have made it this far.”

Thompson intends to seek other certification opportunities so he can continue to grow professionally.

In the meantime, he is setting up his own training business and plans to offer AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) evaluations and private and group training. He will also continue to train shelter dogs.

The AKC CGC program is open to all dogs and teaches the basics of good manners and obedience, instilling the values of responsible ownership, and strengthening the bond between dog and handler at home and out in the community.

Thompson also recently teamed up with the Central Arizona Love on a Leash program, started by the late Michael Colombo and Kathy Knott.

Love on a Leash is a volunteer organization that offers effective pet-provided therapy services in the community. Both handler and dog have to pass the AKC CGC training with some additional modifications before they can become active members of the organization.

“Everyone at the shelter is behind me 100 percent,” said Thompson, “they’ve supported and backed me all the way. I love this job even more than I did when I started four years ago.”

About the Humane Society

of Central ArizonaHSCAZ serves 900 square miles of central Arizona and works with animal control officers and the public, taking in strays, abandoned and injured animals and those whose owners give them up. They also have animals on humanitarian hold for people who are temporarily unable to care for them due to illness or extreme financial hardship.

A 501(c)(3) organization, HSCAZ relies on donations and grants for funding. It organizes several fundraising events, including the upcoming 9th Pins for Paws bowling event on Oct. 25.

There will be raffle and silent auction items including one night at the Scottsdale Phoenician — a $600 value — and dinner for two; tickets to Sedona jeep tours, Phoenix Symphony tickets, candle baskets, camping packages, and more.

To learn more about this event, contact HSCAZ at 928-474-5590

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