2018-08-30 / Around Town

Potter League Director Focuses on Community

Conversation with Brad Shear
By Eliza Radeka


Brad Shear, the new top dog at the Potter League is pictured here with one of the dogs available for adoption. Typically, there are 20 cats and 20 dogs ready for new homes. But, at any given time the shelter has about 125 animals in its care to prepare them for adoption. (Photos by Lynne Tungett) Brad Shear, the new top dog at the Potter League is pictured here with one of the dogs available for adoption. Typically, there are 20 cats and 20 dogs ready for new homes. But, at any given time the shelter has about 125 animals in its care to prepare them for adoption. (Photos by Lynne Tungett) This June, the Potter League for Animals welcomed executive director Brad Shear to lead its nonprofit shelter. Shear relocated with his family from Albany, New York, where he served as the president and CEO of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. As a lifelong animal lover (and current owner of four cats), Shear not only works to improve the lives of animals at the shelter, but also focuses his efforts on all pets within the community. He has had a busy first few months as he strives to expand the shelter’s community outreach while planning for the future.

How old were you when you started working with animals? I was 25. I had been managing restaurants for a while after I got out of college and I was looking for something to do that was a bit more enriching. My first job was in Colorado at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. I was running their front desk and working the kennels, and kind of worked my way up through a bunch of different jobs there and at some other shelters.

How was your first summer in Rhode Island? We love to go to the beach. We live in Wakefield, so we spend a lot of time in South County. Newport and the whole state is just a beautiful place to be. I had never been to Rhode Island before the interview process. And there’s no beach in Albany.

What motivated you to take on this new role at the Potter League? The Potter League is a nationally known shelter for being. a solidly-run place with a fantastic facility. A lot of people really love their animal shelters, but here it’s on a different level. I wanted to be a part of that and I wanted to be at a place that was well established and where there was room to grow and do some new work.

What changes have you put in place at the Potter League? We hired our first full-time veterinarian.

It’s allowed us to increase our capacity, and it’s reduced how long animals stay here. We’ve been doing free vaccination and wellness clinics for people who own animals that might not have access to expensive veterinary care, as well as microchipping animals.

What changes can we expect to see in the coming months? We’re looking to expand other things that we can do in the community and trying to look outside the shelter to make sure that every animal in the community is cared for. We’ve started bringing pet food to the food pantry at the Martin Luther King Center, so people who are coming to get food for themselves can get pet food as well. We’re trying to explore other places where there’s a gap in the care that animals are getting in the community and trying to fill that gap.

Do you ever get attached to animals at the shelter? Yes. There are always some that stand out, but I try to keep in mind that my job is to try to get other people to take them. The first dog I adopted was in Boulder. He had been in the shelter for about six months and I used to eat lunch with him every day, so after a while I just said, “I think he’s my dog now.”

Is there one moment that has been the highlight of your first three months on the job? I was at one of our clinics and there was a woman and her dog who I don’t think could’ve afforded to go to another veterinarian. She got the dog the first real vet exam I think it had ever had, and the vet really took the time to talk to her and explain what the dog’s needs were. The woman broke into tears and started saying how happy she was that someone was taking the time for her dog.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in adopting a pet? Be honest with yourself about your lifestyle and what you want and really think about what’s right for you. Look at each animal as an individual. Sometimes we look that animal in the eyes and know that it’s the one for [us]. The connection is important, but we try to make sure it’s a good fit.

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