Meghan Bowers, executive director of Humane Society of Warren County, holds "Little Man" who is available for adoption, inside the cat wing of the animal shelter off Progress Drive in Front Royal on Thursday. Bowers, of Amissville, was recently hired to serve as executive director of the facility. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Meghan Bowers, the Humane Society of Warren County's new executive director, would like to maintain and expand the good work already underway at the shelter.

Bowers, 33, of Amissville, took the helm this week, replacing Alyssa Ellison, who held the job for six months.

"I plan to stay as long as they'll have me here...I'm very happy with the team, everybody is very welcoming. I don't have any plans to look elsewhere for any sort of employment," she said.

Bowers said becoming the director is an exciting opportunity because she loves being involved in animal rescue, adoption and teaching the public about responsible pet ownership.

"When this became available, I thought it was just a dream job for me. It's an opportunity to be creative with marketing strategies for adoptions," she said.

Bowers said her initial goal is to keep up the shelter's positive aspects, such as its no-kill status, and continuing outreach programs like Hand in Paw, which provides food to pet owners in need.

She also noted that the shelter's spay and neuter program has preformed 5,258 surgeries since 2016, which "is a huge impact on the pet overpopulation in the area."

"I'm just so excited to be part of the team that's already doing such amazing things," Bowers said.

She added that she would like to raise public awareness of the shelter and expand its already robust community influence.

"I want to get more people in the door and more animals out the door," she said.

Bowers began her career with animals as a volunteer at the Friends of Homeless Animals in Aldie, where she became the shelter manager. She then became an animal care technician at Country Club Kennels in Catlett.

Before that, she said, she worked in "basic office" jobs.

She said she had cats growing up, but did not get involved with animals until she began volunteering at Friends of Homeless Animals, where she became hooked after adopting Ginger, a then 8-year-old pitbull and Rottweiler mix.

"She changed my life. I was doing office work before that, and then you bring a dog home and she smiles and whimpers and wags her tail every time you come home," she said.

Ginger, who is now 11, may be the inspiration for future programs because Bowers said the dog fostered her love for older animals.

"I hope we can set some program up to help those senior animals get visibility. Old animals should not be in a shelter; they should definitely be warm and cozy on the couch," she said.

Bowers is excited to get started and noted several programs underway, including a half-off adoptions special for anyone who brings in a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots; a volunteer orientation program at 2:30 p.m. Sunday; and a fundraiser in which people can get pictures with Santa and their pets at Petco from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Dec. 15 and 16 for $9.95.

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