KINGMAN – The day-to-day work with Mohave County for Nicole Mangiameli is often emotional and difficult. Luckily, it’s also rewarding and filled with a sense of accomplishment.
Mangiameli is the director of the Mohave County Animal Sanctuary and has to deal with an ever-changing influx of all types of creatures who have found themselves trying to survive in a desert environment and hopefully being relocated to a welcoming new home.
The task is difficult. There are more animals than future forever homes and some wonderful, loving pets never leave their shelter environment. Mangiameli and his staff do their best in an outdated and cramped facility, knowing that a big, new haven is on the horizon.
Mangiameli says she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t obsessed with animals. She grew up in Orange, California, a town with an almost idyllic and rural atmosphere, spending time riding horses and training dogs.
Her parents could be overwhelmed as she brought home birds, rats, lizards, turtles, cats and dogs, begging to keep them all. She was an active member of the 4-H club from the age of 12 and frequently competed with her horse and dog at local shows.
After high school, she worked for a major veterinary hospital, using cutting-edge surgeries and treatments. His life of working with animals never ended.
Mangiameli was previously married to the lead director of the hit TV series Married With Children and even worked as an assistant animal trainer on the show with famed trainer Steven Ritt and series regular dog Buck Bundy.
One episode (Wabbit Season) even featured his own trained bunny. Over the years, she continued to work in veterinary hospitals, with over 40 doctors in total, and was always eager to expand her knowledge of animal nutrition and health.
Although she had memorable experiences in England and France six years ago, Mangiameli moved to Kingman to be closer to her parents who live in Lake Havasu. She was hired in 2018 as the director of the Western Arizona Humane Society in Kingman and was immediately in tune with and in love with the shelter, its staff, and its many non-human clients and temporary residents. In July 2019, shelter management returned to Mohave County. Good news would follow soon. The county board of supervisors approved a badly needed new shelter. It should now be in place by the end of summer 2023.
Make no mistake, saving the lives of the animals in the overcrowded shelter is no easy task. Many animals never get that desperately sought-after forever home. Their stay is reasonably short, in both good and bad ways.
Right now, the shelter is mostly filled with an abundance of dogs. They include many mixed breeds, large and small, and a quick visit from any animal lover shows that most are happy and loving and waiting for that ultimate rescue.
There are also those whose face reveals a feeling of despair, sad in the eyes of all. Mangiameli states that “the shelter staff is deeply committed to saving all the animals we can and providing the best possible environment for our shelter guests while they are with us.”
Mangiameli points out that “people often ask how we at the shelter can do such difficult and heartbreaking work. Well, we don’t see it that way. It is watching our special shelter guests walk out with their new families that fills our hearts with joy. It’s seeing these beautiful animals grow from homeless to healthy and happy. This is what drives us every day. With the incredible support of our many volunteers and all county departments working together, we have made positive changes in the lives of animals in Mohave County.
Mangiameli is right. Pets can have a much happier life when they move to a new environment, but it can also be life-changing for their human counterparts. It’s finding and connecting the two that can be terribly frustrating. The shelter at 950 Buchanan St. in Kingman is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.