Nicole Young was announced to be the new director of the Oxford Animal Resource Center (ARC), the shelter that will be taking over as the animal shelter for Oxford following the closing of Mississippi Critterz.
Young, most recently a supervisor at Memphis Animal Services, relocated to Oxford to work as the director of the ARC after city officials visited Memphis Animal Services in search of a new director. Young has worked in animal welfare since age 15, from working as a kennel attendant to a veterinary technician.
“Once I started reading what had happened and veterinarian reports, I felt like I didn’t have a choice,” Young said. “My brain and my heart didn’t give me a choice.”
After the allegations surrounding Mississippi Critterz were confirmed, the city of Oxford severed ties with the shelter, first by terminating its contract with Mississippi Critterz at a Board of Alderman meeting in March, then quickly removing all animals from the shelter. After three months of not having shelter services, the ARC will provide Oxford with a place to house stray animals as well as adoption services.
Young said that she knows trust is not something that can be forced, but she has plans to earn back the trust of the Oxford community.
“One of the biggest ways to earn back that trust in the community and with all the people here is to be honest and transparent,” said Young.
One way the ARC will be increasing transparency is by creating a social media presence.
“If people know what you’re doing, then they’re more likely to trust you because they feel like they were led astray or didn’t know the truth and didn’t know what was happening behind those doors,” Young said.
While the social media platforms – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts – will be used for increasing transparency, they will also be used to let people know which animals are up for adoption.
“It’s all about meeting people where they are, and one of the biggest things is how big social media is nowadays,” Young said. “So putting an ad in a print paper or on a poster is less likely to get attention than if you’re scrolling on Facebook.”
Young hopes to earn the trust of the Oxford community, as well as improve the wellbeing of the stray animals of Oxford.
“At the end of the day, even with everything that happened with the previous leadership, I’m here for the animals,” Young said, “and that’s the most important thing to me is that every single one of those animals is a life that needs to be cared for.”