Even though she’s only worked at Pima Animal Care Center for 18 months, Kristen Auerbach has made her mark as director of animal services. She won the award for Executive Level Department Leader of a Large or Nonprofit Company at the Executive Excellence awards Nov. 14.
Upon taking the stage, Auerbach dedicated her award to all of the dogs and cats at PACC, and thanked the community for their support.
“Thank you to every one of you who has volunteered, donated, given to the Friends of PACC, helped us in some way or another, and especially adopted, we couldn’t do this without you,” she said.
Kristen moved to Tucson after working as Deputy Director of Austin Animal Center and Assistant Director at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter in Virginia. She was drawn to Tucson because of the support the leadership of the city and county show to helping animals.
“They understand that when we help animals, we help people,” Auerbach said. “It’s been a dream come true this year and a half here in Pima County because we are all working together and I feel that every day.”
Volunteers at PACC contribute 80,000 hours annually to help the 17,000 animals that come through the shelter doors every year.
“We take in every animal in need, whether it’s sick or injured or abused or neglected,” Auerbach said, and she has worked to increase the save-rate of animals that come to the center.
This year, Auerbach predicts that PACC will achieve an over 90 percent save-rate, making Pima County among the top five life saving communities nationwide.
Auerbach’s nominator wrote, “Her passion for animals has allowed her to transform three municipal shelters, including the Pima Animal Care Center, into national models.”
Auerbach started at PACC in the summer, the organization’s busiest season, and during the construction of its new building. Because of the season and the construction, the center was completely full with four to five dogs per kennel. Auerbach often kept a temporary kennel in her office to house extra animals.
“Kristen’s leadership was essential to making the shelter’s transition a success,” her nominator wrote.
One of Auerbach’s accomplishments at PACC has been creating the largest pet foster care program in the entire country, with almost 5,000 pets spending time at foster homes this year. Because of the success of this program, PACC received a grant to help and train other shelters around the country. Auerbach has worked to help PACC receive multiple grants for programs such as a life-saving initiative for shelter cats and funding for medical equipment.
“Procuring additional funding sources has helped PACC improve the quality of care for sheltered pets while also expand its programming without placing the burden on the backs of the taxpayer,” Auerbach’s nominator wrote.
Auerbach is now focusing not only on helping animals in the shelter, but helping people in the community, who might have trouble finding housing or who have medical expenses. The goal is to keep families together so they never have to surrender their animals in the first place.
“We are working with the Friends of PACC closely, which is our fundraising arm, to be able to provide resources and support for families to they never have to give up their pet,” she said.
Winning her award made Auerbach proud and excited that the community recognized the important work she and her team are doing at PACC.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “All those Sunday afternoons, Friday nights, it’s all so worth it. Thank you from all the cats and dogs at PACC.”