Sandy Brown has spent the last seven years among hundreds of dogs and cats.
Come Wednesday, she’ll hand over the reins as executive director of the Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach to her son. Brown has been with the shelter since 2008 and is leaving to care for her husband who is recovering from surgery.
“It’s important for me to be with him over the next couple of weeks,” Brown said Tuesday. “I’m going to get him back on his feet.”
She leaves behind a legacy of stability, experience and love.
“Being able to work under Sandy – just her amount of experience – is incredible,” said Catherine Escoe, who’s worked at the shelter for a year. “She fights so hard for all of the animals.”
Brown has spent her time as executive director building relations between the shelter, staff, media and community, as well as decreasing the number of animals euthanized every year. One of her first goals was to stop euthanizing “happy, healthy animals for the sake of space.”
“A humane society should not have to euthanize healthy animals,” Brown said. “We should only euthanize to end suffering.”
Brown’s warmth toward both people and animals is apparent, especially to her staff. Danielle Flynn – a volunteer-turned-staff member – said she’ll miss Brown’s sense of humor and caring attitude.
“She’s not just a director; you feel like you can talk to her about anything,” Flynn said.
Brown also worked to save the shelter from closing; when she took charge in 2008, the society had “loads of debt” and was on the brink of shutting down. Through fundraising and money-saving efforts, Brown has kept the doors open and the animals happy.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” she said.
Many of those accomplishments stem from community support, Brown said; volunteers and donors have sustained the shelter through the years.
“I know that people will continue donating and adopting, and I am so appreciative,” Brown said.
Brown said she hopes the shelter continues to uphold the changes she’s put in place over the years; she’s concerned the board of directors might try to micromanage the society. She hopes the shelter continues to grow so it no longer relies on funds from the city of Myrtle Beach to pay employees or provide medical help to animals.
“I’ve put my heart and soul into this,” Brown said. “Together we’ve saved thousands of animals over the years.”
Stefan Brown, Sandy Brown’s son, was appointed interim director by the shelter’s board of directors. He previously served as operations director and spent the past few years preparing to take over his mother’s position, Sandy Brown said.
Stefan Brown could not be reached Tuesday.
Though no longer executive director, Brown said she’ll find ways to work with the humane society as much as possible after her husband has recovered. Her love of animals – and of the shelter’s staff – will eventually reel her back.
“The love in this shelter is so addictive,” Brown said. “I just can’t stay away.”
Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.