Category Archives: News

Passion for animals drives shelter’s new leader

Animals have always been a part of Jennifer Steketee’s life. Growing up on a small farm in Oregon, Steketee found it only natural to be around dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and other creatures.

“I was around animals all the time,” she said. “Just about everything you can imagine, and it’s what I jennphotoconsidered family.”

So when she pondered a career path, she followed her passion. After getting a doctor of veterinary medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University, Steketee found herself working at Española Valley Humane Society and eventually at a private veterinary practice in Santa Fe.

But it was her work with homeless animals, and, specifically, animal sheltering, where she found her true calling. She started full time as a clinic veterinarian at the Santa Fe animal shelter in 2012, and eventually accepted the role as director of medical services. She helped institute lifesaving changes in the way the shelter handles the care of homeless animals.

In November, Steketee was selected as executive director of the shelter after a nationwide search for a successor to Mary Martin, who left in October to take the helm of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control in Phoenix. Martin, who was appointed executive director in 2009, expanded the shelter’s programs and services to the community, adding a public veterinary hospital, an animal rehabilitation center and two resale stores that help support shelter programs.

Board President Roddey Burdine, in announcing the board’s selection of a new executive director, said, “We at the shelter are sad to lose Mary Martin after so many years of inspiring guidance, however, we enthusiastically back Jennifer Steketee as the perfect person to be our new ED and to move the shelter ahead and solve our animal problems.”

Martin was a person who forced people to look outside the box, Steketee said, and fundamentally changed how the shelter was run, which was to give every animal a chance to succeed. During Martin’s time, the shelter was able to increase the number of animals it helped save, and has been at an about 95 percent success rate for many years.

“Mary was a visionary who took this shelter to places we hadn’t even imagined,” she said. “Now it’s time to make those visions sustainable for the long future ahead. The shelter has spent 75 years changing the way our community sees animals, and I am honored to be part of its future. There is no limit to what a group of passionate, driven animal lovers can accomplish.”

The shelter takes in more than 5,500 animals yearly and has a staff of about 100. In addition to the shelter facilities at 100 Caja del Rio Road, and the resale stores in the north- and south-side of town, the shelter also operates a spay/neuter and wellness clinic and a pet outreach program at its south-side location, 2570 Camino Entrada. Steketee said it’s the employees and volunteers, lead by the steadfast dedication of the board that has allowed the shelter to blossom as a national beacon for animal welfare.

“I’m amazed every day at what everyone brings to the table,” she said, “and how much hard work goes into our organization. There are so many things that people do here – so much that people don’t realize – that everyone should be applauded for their work.”

In addition to Steketee’s lead role at the shelter, the shelter also announced that Laura Parker, a longtime New Mexico resident, is now director of finances. Parker, who succeeds Robert Hernandez, who died in July, is a CPA and has been doing income taxes in public accounting since 1994. She has served as treasurer on the shelter’s volunteer board since 2007.

The shelter also has a new medical director, Sara Lewis. Lewis started her career in fine arts, but, after being inspired to “give back,” started volunteering at the shelter.

She eventually moved on to the clinic, where she began a love affair with veterinary medicine and in particular, she said, shelter medicine. She recently finished veterinary school at Washington State University and decided to return to the place that gave her a start.

Steketee said she is working to ensure that lifesaving programs at the shelter continue and that more options are available for people to keep their animals in their homes, either through reduced veterinary costs, behavior help or assistance in fence repair. She would like to encourage more people to visit the shelter.

“I would love to get more people involved in the shelter,” she said, “people from different walks of life. I would like everyone to know about the amazing work that we do here and become part of it.”

Beer sales support homeless animals

A Santa Fe brewery is supporting the Santa Fe animal shelter through beer sales and other special events.

Rowley Farmhouse Ales has designated a special rotating tap in support of animal groups, with $1 from every BP_PintNight_Featuring_11x17pint poured supporting a rotating animal charity. The promotion, which currently supports the Santa Fe animal shelter, is called Pull for Pups; the designated tap has a carved dog head on the lever.

The brewery, in connection with Ballast Point Brewery, also is hosting a separate benefit for the shelter Wednesday called Pints for Pups. All proceeds from the sale of Ballast Point beers will be donated to the shelter. Merchandise from the shelter will be available for purchase during the event, along with give-aways from Ballast Point.

The brewery, located in mid-town Santa Fe at 1405 Maclovia St., off Cerrillos Road, welcomes dogs on its patio. The brewery specializes in rustic farmhouse and sour ales.

For more information, call the brewery at 505-428-0719.

From Stray to Star: Mountain Boy

Abandoned or dumped at the Aspen Vista hiking trailhead, this boy – who some call Mountain Boy – spent 14203372_10154560140524880_4331835972081933077_n weeks afraid and alone. People thought he was trying to find his owners by the way he approached each vehicle, only to dash off into the forest when he realized it wasn’t them.

Many people, including Monica, brought him food and tried to coax him to safety; finally, he was caught thanks to the dog-handling skills of Darlene Lily and others and taken to the shelter.

After a couple weeks working with the Behavior staff, he’s come out of his shell but is still quite shy. Recently, Monica, who says she can’t stop thinking about him, volunteered to take him into her home for extra TLC.

“He has such potential,” Monica said. “He has such a gentle spirit. He deserves someone who will be patient and very loving so that he’ll bond with them.”

She’ll be fostering him until a permanent home can be found. For those interested in learning more about him, call Monica at 505-982-9572. For information on fostering, email

Lead the parade with your pet

The Santa Fe animal shelter is urging families with pets adopted from the shelter to join them in this year’s Children’s Pet Parade.

The shelter will once again take the lead as the grand marshal of Desfile de Los Niños, one of the most popular and well-attended events of the Santa Fe Fiesta. The parade is set this year for Saturday, Sept. 10.

Those wishing to join the shelter and its volunteers are asked to gather by 7:45 a.m. at the parade staging area at the New Mexico School for the Arts, 275 E. Alameda St. The parade, which is free to all participants, starts at 9 a.m. For more information, contact Devin White at

The hour-long parade, which began in the early 1920s, features hundreds of children and their families in costumes who participate in the parade, along with thousands of supporters lining the route. The event ends with an awards ceremony on the Plaza.

Let your dog take a dip

The Santa Fe animal shelter and the city’s Parks and Recreation Division are teaming up Saturday, Sept. 10, doggieDIP16for fun-filled splash for dogs.

The fourth annual Doggy Dip will take place at 11 a.m. at Bicentennial Pool at Alto Park.

The event, which runs until 2 p.m., includes swimming for dogs in the big pool and the wading pool. Gift bags with coupons, goodies and treats will be given to the first 100 participants with dogs.

Only dogs will be allowed in the pools, although volunteers will help dogs in the large swimming pool. A wading pool is available for those dogs who may not be comfortable in the larger pool.

Admission is $10 per dog, with all proceeds benefitting the shelter. The pool is located at 1121 Alto St., near Alto Park. For more information, call 505-955-2503.