Star Mangasaryan is the director of operations at the nonprofit Glendale Humane Society, which operates a donor-supported humane rescue organization. The shelter is a no-kill facility.
MELANIE HICKEN: How long have you worked with the shelter and what brought you here?
STAR MANGASARYAN: I have been here seven years. I started out as a volunteer and just fell in love with the place and the animals. And I never left. I love it.
Q: In the past, the shelter was criticized for its facilities. Do you think it’s gotten better in recent years?
A: Definitely. The way we care for our animals; we put more time and effort into training them — their living situations, the kennels. They look the same, but now they have misters for when it’s hot. We have air conditioning in the back. We have heaters in the back. So, it’s much better. And back then, we used to have three or four dogs in a kennel, where now it’s only one or two.
Q: The shelter relies on grants and donations. Do you ever worry there won’t be enough money to continue operations?
A: I think we are worried — I think anybody right now is just really stressed about the economy and where it’s going to lead us.
Q: Are you seeing more pets?
A: We get a lot of calls, but we aren’t seeing it as most of the animal control shelters do because we are a private rescue. But I know the shelters are.
Q: Are you at capacity?
A: We don’t have room right now because we just rescued six dogs. As soon as we have animals go out, we have more come in.
Q: How many are there total?
A: Dogs, we have about 35 to 40. Cats, we have 18 to 20 adult cats and about 12 kittens.
Q: It’s a no-kill facility. What happens to an animal that is at the shelter for a really long time without being adopted?
A: It just stays here until we find it a home. We just had Paris; she had been here for four to five years and she finally got adopted. There is a right person for that dog. You just have to wait it out.
Q: Is it harder with the older dogs?
A: Actually, no. A lot of people just want the older ones. We had a gentleman who adopted a dog that’s really old, blind and partially deaf.
Q: Do you ever get really attached to specific animals? How do you deal with that when they do get adopted out?
A: Just seeing them going home to a great family. Because by the time the families go through our process, we get to know them at a different level. Just seeing our babies go home with them is heartwarming. It’s really good to see.
Q: And what is that process?
A: Families come in and view our animals. If they see somebody they are interested in, they fill out an application. Once the application is filled out, we will review it and try to find the dog that matches their lifestyle, what they are looking for. So we match them. And then there’s a parenting class that Alyce [Russell, executive director of the shelter] teaches on Saturdays; they come to that.
And they come and pick up the dog the day after or whenever they are comfortable with. And then we include a one-hour training session with one of our trainers. So, it takes about a week and we get to know them very well by then.
Q: How many pets do you have yourself?
A: Three dogs. They are all here with me. They come to work.
Q: Is there any breed you see more often at the shelter?
A: Terriers, we get a lot of terriers. But you see a big variety.
Q: Why would you encourage people to adopt?
A: There are so many dogs out there that need homes. And to go buy one, all the other ones get put down. I don’t support the whole buying and breeding animals. Rescue. Rescue is the way to go. That’s how I got all of mine.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A: Finding them homes. Caring for them until they go home. I think that’s the best part.
Q: Have you ever been injured by an animal? Bitten? Scratched?
A: It comes with the job. Scratches you get from the cats and kittens. Dog bites, rarely; I think I’ve only been bit by a cat. That’s it. Dogs, you just really need to know how to read their body language.
Q: What are the animals like when they come to you?
A: It’s amazing to see the transformation. It’s to the point sometimes where the hair is matted around their legs. We do the makeover — manicure, pedicure. We do the doctor visit. We take them to the groomer as soon as possible. And they’re good to go.
Q: So, there’s lots of barking here of course. Do you not notice it anymore?
A: You kind of get used to it. You know the ‘blah, blah, blah.’ You void it out.
Q: Have you always loved animals?
A: I actually used to be terrified of them. Until my dad brought home a lab one day, and I remember my sister and I jumped on the table because we were so scared. We felt bad because he had to bring it back, to here actually. But after that, he brought a puppy and we were dog lovers from then on.