Ann Graves named Seattle Animal Shelter executive director

Ann Graves becomes Seattle Animal Shelter’s executive director on Sept. 20, 2017.

Ann Graves, who has been serving as the Seattle Animal Shelter acting director for the past year, has been named the shelter’s executive director. Graves’ appointment comes after a six-month, nationwide recruitment.

During Graves’ tenure as acting director, she has done an outstanding and commendable job helping to guide SAS through transition and challenges, said William Edwards, director of Regulatory Compliance and Consumer Protection. The RCCP division in the Department of Finance and Administrative Services oversees the Seattle Animal Shelter.

“We have the greatest of confidence that Ann will continue to grow and build on her experience with the support of highly dedicated staff, volunteers, the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, our partners around the region and state and the communities we serve,” Edwards said.

Before stepping in as acting director last year, Graves was the shelter’s manager of field services, the shelter’s regulatory and investigations unit. She joined the Seattle Animal Shelter in 2000 as an animal care officer before becoming an officer in the field services unit, then enforcement supervisor and manager. Graves previously worked at the Humane Society of Seattle/King County (now known as Seattle Humane) as the offsite adoption supervisor after volunteering there for several years. Ann has served on the board and in officer roles for the Washington Animal Control Association and the Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies and in 2016 was named the National Animal Care and Control Association Animal Control Employee of the Year.

“The Seattle Animal Shelter plays a vital role in our community in so many ways. I am truly honored to be a part of this remarkable team of dedicated animal care professionals and volunteers and am humbled to accept the position of executive director,” Graves said. “I look forward to the work ahead as we build toward our future in providing progressive, responsive, data-driven and comprehensive services to the people and animals of Seattle and as we continue saving one life at a time.”

The city of Seattle received 62 applications from candidates across the country, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, California, Florida and Washington, D.C. Interview panels were comprised of representatives from the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation, the Seattle community, city of Seattle managers, Seattle Animal Shelter volunteers and Regional Animal Services of King County.

Graves appointment as executive director is effective Sept. 20, 2017.

The Seattle Animal Shelter, located at 2061 15th Ave. W., is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday for adoptions and licensing. For more information, call 206-386-PETS (7387) or visit

Furry 5K supports medical needs at the Seattle Animal Shelter

Dr. Nick Urbanek, director of shelter medicine, cares for SAS’ animals with resources from the Help the Animals Fund.

Now a regular fixture in Seattle Animal Shelter’s designated clinic room, Dr. Nick Urbanek doesn’t get much downtime. As the new director of shelter medicine, Urbanek provides veterinary evaluation and treatment for the many animals – dogs, cats and critters – that come under the shelter’s care.

“There are a thousand distractions here,” said Urbanek. “It’s never quiet.”

The shelter made large strides by hiring him as an in-house veterinarian in February 2017, but Urbanek said SAS still needs more veterinarian resources.

To raise funds for Urbanek’s veterinary efforts and the shelter’s Help the Animals Fund, SAS will host its annual Furry 5K on Sunday, June 11 at Seward Park. According to Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement Ania Beszterda-Alyson, these funds cover examination bills, spay/neuter surgeries and rehabilitating animal cruelty and neglect victims.

“The event was founded by shelter volunteers who, through their daily interactions with homeless and abandoned animals, saw that private donations were greatly needed for our municipal shelter to become a lifesaving organization,” said Beszterda-Alyson. “Injured, abused and neglected animals need veterinary care, medications and sometimes surgeries to become adoptable and find loving homes. Furry 5K donations save lives of the most vulnerable animals in our community.”

SAS is an open-admissions shelter and accepts any animal that is surrendered or found within Seattle city limits. (Animals from outside Seattle are accepted on a space-available basis.) According to Beszterda-Alyson, these animals are usually the ones turned away by private animal welfare organizations.

Urbanek often sees older animals with behavior issues, skin conditions, allergies or even arthritis.

“My goal and hope is to provide quality veterinary care (medical, surgical and behavioral) for all animals in our care,” said Urbanek. “It’s a seemingly simple goal but requires a lot of coordination starting from the moment an animal comes through the shelter’s door.”

Before Urbanek came on board, SAS would send animals with medical needs to local veterinary clinics. But the excitement of being transported from the shelter to medical facilities often created anxiety for the pets. And while the shelter can now handle medical conditions on-site or in foster care, the diagnostics and treatments can be very costly, Urbanek said.

Last year, the charitable donations from the Furry 5k helped 3,715 animals at SAS, according to Beszterda-Alyson. This year, the shelter hopes to raise $120,000 for veterinary care and rehabilitation of shelter dogs, cats and critters.

“Our live save rate says we are doing a fantastic job at making positive outcomes happen,” said Urbanek.

You can help further Urbanek’s efforts to care for SAS animals by registering or setting up a team today at If you can’t attend in person, you can still help SAS reach its goal by making a donation at

For more information about the Seattle Animal Shelter, visit us online at or call 206-386-PETS (7387).

Story by Erin Berge, SAS volunteer

SAS remembers longtime director Don Jordan

Donald Edward Jordan
July 2-1967 – Oct. 19, 2016

It is with great sadness that the staff of the Seattle Animal Shelter are sharing the news of the passing of its longtime director, Don Jordan.

“Don was a kind, compassionate and dedicated leader, one who devoted his entire career – and many would say his entire life – to the care of animals,” said Mayor Murray. “Under Don’s leadership, the shelter transitioned from the world of animal control into the world of animal welfare. Most would agree that Don’s vision, strength and courage were driving forces behind the Seattle Animal Shelter’s evolution from being thought of as a ‘dog pound’ to the highly respected animal welfare organization it is today.”

In the late 90s, Don opened the door for the creation of the shelter’s volunteer program, which represented a major shift in how animal control agencies were operated at the time. Today, more than 600 volunteers work alongside staff to provide exceptional care for Seattle’s lost, injured and orphaned animals. In Don’s 20 years as the shelter’s director, SAS’ save rate increased and the shelter has gone from saving “one life at a time” to saving “many lives, all of the time.” In fact, it is thanks to Don’s efforts from long ago that the shelter now saves every adoptable animal that comes under its care.

“Don’s professional accomplishments are incredible, but he was also a dear friend to many of us and one of the kindest people I have had the good fortune to know,” said Fred Podesta, Finance and Administrative Services director. “Don understood that animals can bring out the best in their human companions, and he dedicated more than 26 years at the City demonstrating this.”

Don, Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation President Julie Pitt and Mayor Ed Murray officially open the shelter’s remodeled cat and critter areas.

Don is remembered by shelter staff and volunteers as someone whose compassion for people and animals was endless. He welcomed and created space for new ideas, such as the shelter’s signature Furry 5K event, a 17-year tradition that shelter volunteers first created and organized. He was passionate about changing attitudes surrounding breed ban legislation he believed had no basis in fact, arguing that the focus belongs on “the deed, not the breed.” Don fostered relationships with his peers, participating in national animal welfare organizations across the country. Don was always looking forward and for opportunities to improve how we care for Seattle’s animals.

Some of the stories staff and volunteers shared speak to Don’s humor and good nature:

“Don’s door was always open, and he made time for anyone who walked in his office and sat down. In that space, you were surrounded by his family in photographs and mementos that covered every wall, every ledge that would hold a frame … and in that space you were also a part of his family. He cared deeply about all of us. He loved to laugh and put up with my many pranks, including the year I plastered every surface in his office with newspaper clippings that included any reference to the Huskies after they won the Apple Cup. Three weeks later, he stumbled on the last picture in some crevice, and I can still hear his exasperated ‘Ann!’ from where I was sitting at dispatch.” ‑Ann Graves, SAS acting director

“Don would need data pulled for a report and often it would be needed ‘stat!’ I would drop everything I was doing to pull the information together as fast as I could to meet the deadline. Don knew that I would get frazzled when I had to drop what I was doing to work on data requests, so sometimes he would appear at my door and ask, ‘Hey, can I get a report of all the animals that ever came into our shelter, their names and which ones had droopy ears?’ It was so funny, and we’d have a good laugh together.” ‑Robin Klunder-Ryall, SAS operations manager

“A quote that Don used from time to time was ‘Carpe Dentum’ – ‘seize the teeth’ – instead of the normal inspirational quote ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘seize the day.’ He recognized the stressful environment we work in when our decisions literally came down to the life or death of an animal. He tried to keep things light and not add any additional stress on us, if he could help it. Yes, he was my boss, but he was more than that – he was also my friend. I will miss sitting in his office chatting with him about our lives, family, past shenanigans at Wazzu and taking some time to just step away from the daily work routine.” ‑Don Baxter, SAS manager of animal care and volunteers

“Don was so kind and supportive when I was developing the Seattle Animal Shelter’s Pet Loss Support Group program – I could not have done it without him. He always took the time to tell us that our work was important and that it was making a difference. He left behind an incredible legacy, and there are thousands of little souls who owe their lives to his work.” ‑Connie Starr, SAS volunteer

Don introduces former Mayor Nickels to the puppy that would become the Nickels’ dog, Edgar.

Don first joined the Seattle Animal Shelter in 1990 as an animal control officer II. He was promoted to animal control supervisor in 1993 and became the shelter director in 1996.

Don was born in Seattle and grew up in Lake Forest Park. He graduated from Shorecrest High School in 1985 and from Washington State University in 1989 with a bachelor of science in zoology. He was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Don is survived by his college sweetheart Jenny; children Micheal Miller (Jaclyn), Amanda, Alyssa and Donald; parents Don and Joan; mother-in-law Joyce Chin; sister Stephanie Myers (Matt); brother Jeff (Denae); brother-in-law Darren Chin (Colleen); nephews and nieces Shaylah, Reilly, Jake, Henry, Ainsley, Kennedy, Nicholas, Peyton; and a very large extended family.

Our thoughts are with the Jordan family as we carry forward Don’s work and passion on behalf of all the animals and people whose lives we touch.

SAS’ Ann Graves named 2016 Outstanding Animal Care and Control Employee of the Year

Today, at the National Animal Care and Control Association’s annual training conference, Ann Graves, Seattle Animal Shelter’s acting director and manager of field services, was named the 2016 Outstanding Animal Care and Control Employee of the Year! According to NACA, Ann’s nomination was considered along with other employees from across the United States, and she was selected as the employee that met the highest standards for an animal care and control employee. Ann is directly responsible for coordinating a number of sting operations that resulted in the seizure of animals in squalid conditions, the arrest and guilty plea of a fugitive charged in dog fighting, and Class C felony charges of animal fighting against an individual found with multiple roosters in his back yard (trial pending). Ann’s work protecting the public from fractious animals and irresponsible owners has received many compliments over the years. Ann is incredibly deserving of this recognition and we are proud to call her our own.

SAS nominates Katy Tomasulo for the FUTY Festival Volunteer Award of Excellence!

Katy is an outstanding volunteer! Her roles (like many) aren’t flashy, and she doesn’t get in as much kitten cuddling time as she’d like. Yet she’s had an incredibly positive impact on everything from adoptions to education to fundraising (and so much more!) for the Seattle Animal Shelter. In her volunteer role as the shelter’s social media coordinator, Katy juggles what is, for many other organizations, a paid full-time job. For Katy, it’s a labor of love. She has honed the shelter’s social media presence – including reaching a following of 10,000 fans on Facebook, supporting 26 volunteer teams and promoting thousands of adoptable animals.

The impact of her efforts is felt throughout our organization, and so many animals and adopters have her to thank for lifesaving introductions. And this is in addition to the many other roles Katy has graciously volunteered for over the years, including lead positions for the Furry 5K (SAS’ biggest fundraiser of the year) and our Marketing and Events Team. Suffice it to say that Katy rocks, and SAS is incredibly luck to have her.

Online voting is open until Aug. 12, 2016. The three nominees with the highest number of votes will be announced and honored at the FUTY (From Us to You) Festival celebration on Aug. 21, 2016. Hosted by MudBay, the FUTY Festival is a celebration of all animal welfare volunteers and staff held at the historic Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park. The winners of the FUTY Festival Volunteer of Excellence award will each receive a $1,000 cash prize, and their organizations will also receive a $1,000 donation from Mud Bay.

Vote for Katy today!