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Labor of love


Animal recovery is CHS shelter manager's reward

Lisa Beggio knelt down to pet the scarred head of a pit bull mix at the Columbia Humane Society shelter. The dog was brought in as a stray with puppies and an adult male dog last week by Columbia County’s dog control officer.

The dog was submissive, raising her head only long enough for Beggio’s affection.

COURTNEY VAUGHN - Lisa Beggio interacts with a stray dog at the Columbia Humane Society shelter in St. Helens. Beggio was recently named program manager at CHS.After an overhaul that led to the release of the former executive director, Beggio was named program manager at the shelter. Beggio isn’t new to the role. She’s been with CHS for 15 years and has been heavily involved with managing the day-to-day operations at the shelter. It isn’t a stellar salary that keeps Beggio loyal to CHS. It’s the eyes of the emaciated stray pit bull mix whose head is full of nicks.

“She was dumped with six other dogs,” Beggio explained. “She’s a lost soul right now.”

Beggio opened the door to a back room where the stray waited in a kennel next to four puppies.

“I resigned myself many years ago that I’m never gonna be rich, but I love my job and I get to do what I love,” Beggio said. “This is where my heart is. The animals keep me here.”

COURTNEY VAUGHN - Kristy Bills (left), a volunteer with the Columbia Humane Society, holds a kitten for 9-year-old Lily Sparks to pet. Along with Beggio taking the helm, other changes were announced, too. The shelter set new operating hours, opening to the public from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday and Sunday. The shelter will close Fridays and Mondays.

Lori Furman, who chairs the CHS board of directors, also announced the shelter would scale back its transfer program and limit the number of animals coming through on flights from Hawaii and Southern California.

“We’re gonna try to keep it to 10 to 15 dogs at a time,” Beggio said. “We want to focus more on quality, not so much quantity.”

Another major change that took place unannounced was the shelter’s exit from Hannah the Pet Society. CHS had a working relationship with Hannah, in which Hannah would place pets from CHS into homes through its pet matching services. That partnership was severed shortly after the shelter’s reorganization was announced in November. It’s unclear what prompted the shelter to sever its ties with Hannah.

“We have just decided that we no longer want to work with them,” Beggio said, noting it was a decision made jointly between her and the CHS board.