Animal services

Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center Welcomes New Executive Director

Alidia Vane
New SVASC Executive Director Alidia Vane holds foster pup Brantley at the Lyndhurst shelter.

LYNDHURST — As a freshman in high school in Louisiana, Alidia Vane volunteered for the local animal shelter.

“I’ve always really loved being around animals and people who love being around animals,” Vane said. She loved working with animals and helping plan events.

After high school, Vane pursued her bachelor’s degree in New York and continued to volunteer at animal shelters.

Vane, who earned her bachelor’s degree in politics and recently completed her master’s degree in public administration, became a teacher through Teach for America. She taught high school science for students with special needs in New York City before the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged her to rethink her career plan.

She worked for the New York Department of Parks, managing budget and funding to renovate parks. Vane worked with local officials to secure funding and helped design new parks. Her favorite part was planning community events, such as ribbon cuttings, to open new parks.

“And seeing the kids enjoying the playground equipment that we’ve been working on for three years or something has always been very exciting and very rewarding to see it all come to fruition,” Vane said.

On July 5, Vane started as executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center. After eight years in New York, she now lives in Churchville with her dog, Buddy, and her cat, Mika. She is happy to be closer to her mother who lives in Newport News.

“It felt like a really good match,” Vane said of SVASC, “because I could work with animals but also work with community members who were passionate about similar things.” She said Waynesboro felt like she was back home in rural Louisiana. She appreciates the support of the community to help her settle in the valley. “It’s great to have that feeling. I feel really welcomed.

Vane’s new position comes after a reorganization of the shelter’s ownership by the town of Waynesboro and much outcry from the community at local government meetings regarding the future of the shelter. Augusta County is now financially responsible for the shelter and has made possible higher compensation for the position of executive director.

“I have a lot of respect for people who take time out of their spare time to go out and stand up for things that are close to their hearts, and to support the shelter and things like that. It really means a lot. We couldn’t do it without people coming out, showing up to meetings, volunteering and adopting,” Vane said.

Vane is home to two six-week-old Pit Bull puppies, Bridget and Brantley, who were recently orphaned when their mother suffered health problems after giving birth to them a third puppy who did not survive. The decision was made to humanely euthanize their mother.

Vane said she enjoys meeting community members and has already noticed the community support in Waynesboro for the shelter.

“It’s a huge community, and I really love meeting everyone, I look forward to continuing to meet everyone and work with them to continue to build and support this shelter as it deserves.” said Vane.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, for most of which the shelter was closed except by appointment only to people serious about adoption or promotion, Vane said that shelter staff continue to encourage the use of hand sanitizer and the wearing of masks when visitors come to Lyndhurst. Residents should call to make an appointment if they need to turn over an animal. And anyone interested in adopting a dog or cat is also encouraged to call and make an appointment.

The shelter has a small entrance and the staff want everyone, including the animals, to be as safe and calm as possible. Vane said it’s also important for staff to show the animals in their best light, and not in a noisy hall, which can agitate some animals.

Two weeks ago, the shelter issued an urgent appeal for adoptions and foster families when it reached capacity with dogs. As the municipal shelter for Waynesboro, Staunton and Augusta County, SVASC must keep space open for admissions in animal control situations.

“We had a huge outpouring of community support when we mentioned we were at full capacity,” Vane said. Thanks to social media, volunteers and community members, word has spread about the need for adoptions and foster homes. As a result, no dogs were euthanized. Dogs have been adopted, placed in short-term foster homes, or placed in foster homes for adoption.

That’s not to say the shelter doesn’t have dogs and cats looking for forever homes.

“We still have very high capacity right now,” Vane said.

The shelter welcomes donations of funds, food and supplies, as well as volunteers. Closed Thursdays and Sundays, anyone interested in volunteering, adopting or fostering should check out the shelter’s website.