Sabine Born, with dog KT, worked her way up at the Park County Animal Shelter after moving from Germany in 2016 and graduating from Montana State University-Billings.

With a new facility in the wings, the Park County Animal Shelter is ushering in a new chapter with a new woman in charge. 

Sabine Born took over as shelter executive director in May and is now overseeing the everyday operations. 

“It’s been great, my whole education and past career steps were good for this,” she said.

Forefront on her agenda is helping implement planning for a $1.9 million new shelter building set for construction next spring and set to open by the end of 2020. 

“My plan is that we will have a much improved animal environment, with bigger, cleaner dog and cat areas,” Born said.

About every dollar needed has been raised and pledged for the project.

“It’s awesome to be able to say we did this,” she said. “It was a big group effort.”

Born said although the shelter is still accepting donations for the new building, it has enough funding to ensure the project is guaranteed and will start on time. Any extra funds raised will go toward higher quality building materials and possible future programming at the shelter.

“We could fund a specialized animal behaviorist who would help us get shelter pets to be more adoptable, help new owners succeed with their newly adopted pets – particularly dogs – and even purchase some much needed training equipment and resources,” she said.

Born said her staff has not determined yet whether it will tear down the current shelter after the new one is built, as the dog kennels and front office could still retain value for uses such as a clinic operation. Shelter staff have also said previously a part of the shelter property could be turned into a dog walking path.

New leadership

After living most of her life in Germany, Born moved to the United States in 2016. She started at the animal shelter this spring as an operations manager and then was quickly promoted.

Born has previously worked in marketing, sales and international tourism, in addition to earning a masters degree in communications from Montana State University-Billings. 

She is the owner of two dogs and has pledged to continue the shelter’s “no kill” policy.

The executive director position is a new one to the shelter as the manager previously reported to the shelter’s board president Ken Markert.

“The board cannot do all of the things all of the time,” Born said. “(The executive director position) helps facilitate operations much better.”

Longtime shelter employee Valerie Swensrud is the shelter’s new manager. 

“I think we’ve got a good team to go forward,” Born said.

Her appointment comes at a critical juncture for the shelter not only because of the new facility, but because Born said Markert’s term as president will end next summer, and it will be up to her to bring the new president up to speed.

Many different volunteering and donating opportunities exist at the shelter, ranging from fundraising efforts to purchasing cleaning products. To get involved call (307) 587-5110.

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