OK, everyone, buckle your seatbelt, this Q&A with the Chief Operations Officer at Austin Humane Society is going to be a fun ride. Oh, and the story of one of her favorite adoptions had us all melty.
Name: Dr. Katie Broaddus, CAWA
Member of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement since: 2015
Organization: Austin Humane Society
Title: Chief Operations Officer
Q&A with Dr. Katie Broaddus
The Association: What are three words to describe you?
Dr. Katie Broaddus: Mom, jokester, competitive
The Association: Three words to describe Austin Humane?
Dr. B: Family, transformative, steadfast
The Association: Share a success you and your team have had this year.
Dr. B: Above all else, I’m most proud of our ability to pull together to keep each other and the rest of our AHS family safe. We’ve continued to operate with lots of changes, and it was really hard at times to help our team navigate this pandemic together. But I think we grew closer to each other and have relied on each other in ways we never have before, and that’s a pretty big silver lining.
The Association: What’s one thing keeping you healthy and resilient these days?
Dr. B: I am a homebody at heart, so the big positive these days for me is the extra time with my husband and kids. We usually overschedule ourselves and are running in every direction, so I’ve appreciated the slow-down very much. I know it won’t last forever, but I hope we’ve all learned that a slower pace allows for more appreciation of the little things.
The Association: What’s the last book you read, or a show you saw, that you loved?
Dr. B: I’ve been taking a break from work-related books lately and decided to start reading classics I haven’t read. I loved Pride and Prejudice! The formality of pretty much everything back then was fascinating to me and kind of a nice break from today’s world. We like lighthearted family movies at our house, and we enjoyed watching Instant Family recently. It’s based on a true story about a couple who decides to foster, and then adopt, three siblings. It sheds a little light on the foster care system, but manages to also be funny and heartwarming. Also I love Mark Wahlberg (googly eyes).
The Association: You’ve been doing some really interesting things in your volunteer role as regional rep for The Association! Can you share some of these, and tell us how they can benefit members?
Dr. B: As a regional representative, my role is to help support the connection between members in my region (Southcentral, which includes TX, OK, AR, & LA) and The Association. I help welcome new members, and most recently, Mindy [editor’s note: that’s Tulsa SPCA’s ED] and I hosted our first regional meeting to bring members together and hear what challenges we are facing in our part of the country. We hope to help southcentral members network, share solutions, commiserate, and learn more about the benefits of membership in The Association, all while making fun of the other regions.
The Association: Over the course of your career you have helped thousands of animals. Is there one who stands out, and why?
Dr. B: I definitely have some favorites! We have a celebration wall at the shelter where we post photos of adoption alumni, and it’s always fun to look at it and reminisce about the animals and people who have come through AHS over the years.
One of my all-time favorites is Buck. He came to AHS paralyzed in his rear legs and with heartworm disease. He didn’t seem to mind at all. We tried specialty surgery to see if we could regain any use of his legs, but the damage was done. Buck never had a bad day, though, and he drug himself around happily until we got his special wheelchair. He got adopted by a family that takes him hiking in a backpack and even put him on the wrapper of their specialty chocolates, which they still donate to AHS when we have big events! I’m inspired by the joy and perseverance of this dog and the compassion of his adopters.
Another who particularly stands out for me is a dog named Sparky. Sparky’s elderly owner passed away, and the owner’s family couldn’t keep him despite really, really wanting to. I spoke with the family when they brought Sparky to AHS, and it was clearly very painful for them. It hit me how hard this situation was for everyone, and how confusing it must be to Sparky. He stayed in my office that day and was the bestest boy. He got adopted by a fantastic family within a few days, and now I get to keep up with Sparky via his own Facebook page!
The Association: Top tip for someone getting ready to prepare for the CAWA exam?
Dr. B: Break your ankle! I kid, but it did help me get a little extra studying in as I lay in bed for a few days. I think the best tip I have for CAWA prep is to be a sponge. You can read about all the topics in books, but the education you get from your teammates and colleagues will help you better understand those areas of running a shelter that aren’t as familiar to you. Strive to be a lifelong learner and be curious about what others in your organization do – how is the budget made, what diversity of fundraising means, what common diseases to watch for, etc. And, of course, read the books on the CAWA study list as back-up!
The Association: What’s your top tip for veterinary professionals interested in shelter medicine?
Dr. B: Don’t be afraid to give it a try! I landed in shelter medicine somewhat serendipitously when I wanted a break from private practice 15 years ago, and what I love most is the constant variety. Want to spay cats all day? You got it. Want to be an animal CSI? You can be. Want to step out of clinical practice and lead a team? You can do that, too. You can probably do all of it in the same day! There are so many ways shelter veterinarians can impact animals, families, and organizations beyond what you’re trained to do in vet school. You just have to take a chance and find the right fit for what you love to do. Life’s too short to hate going to work.