"Monday (Aug. 9) was my first day," said Jack Hays, shelter director. "I was animal control officer in the city of Morehouse. My main job there was city superintendent. I was there probably about four and a half years."
An interim director assisted by staff members had kept things running for several weeks after the former director, Gabby Evans, left the position June 8.
"It was just a unanimous decision of the board members," said Jackie Huls, humane society board member. "It was just something that had to be done."
Hays said he had not originally planned on the shelter director position. "I applied for the animal control position, actually," he said. "They gave me a call and offered me this job."
Once offered the job, however, Hays was happy to accept. "I like animals, I like to be around them," he said. "I thought it would be a nice atmosphere and a way to make a better quality of life for the animals."
Money for shelter salaries and operation expenses comes from private donations and contributions from the city. "We have some big fundraisers and we have some smaller fundraisers - and of course, adoptions," Huls said. "But if it wasn't for the donations, we couldn't stay going. The city's contribution is not enough."
As the shelter's director, Hays said he will be responsible for everything from maintaining the database for donor programs to managing the shelter's personnel. Currently employed at the shelter are Paula Henson, Julie Stricker, Bill Booth, Jordan Hileman and Stella Glover.
Operation of the shelter itself, such as making sure all the animals have a clean bed and fresh food and water, will be Hay's primary duties, however.
"That's the number one reason we're here is for the animals," Hays said. "Right now we have about 50 dogs and the same number of cats. It's pretty much full - that's right at about the limits. You don't want to overcrowd it - it puts additional strain on the animals."
"Our goal is to make a better life for the animals," he added. "We try to get them good homes, get them all up to good health so they can be adopted into homes. And we make sure everybody is taking good care of their animals."
Hays said the shelter works with local veterinarians to spay or neuter and to provide parvo, distemper and worms shots for adopted pets. "They also get a $10 gift certificate from Sikeston Market Place," he said.
The shelter is located at 1900 Compress Road off Highway BB. In addition to Huls, the Bootheel Humane Society's board currently consists of Rebecca Steward, Rebecca McClure, Tara Hux and Laura Bailey.
"We are very happy with Jackie - so far the place has shaped up. The place is very clean, the animals are doing much better," Huls said. "He's a very personable person, very friendly. You need to be a friendly, outgoing person to be the director of a humane society."