Anyone who has a soft spot in their hearts for God’s four-legged creatures will appreciate the work that today’s FACE of Memphis is doing to place homeless dogs and cats in loving homes at the Humane Society. By her example, she shows us that pet adoption really is a win-win, and we sure hit the jack pot when Alexis Amorose chose to call Memphis home.
A self-proclaimed dog AND cat person, Alexis is busy making positive changes as the Executive Director of this nonprofit organization–located in Shelby Farms Park–and soaking up all that Memphis has to offer with a contagious enthusiasm and creative energy in her spare time.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Maryland, lived there for six years, spent the next six years in New Hampshire, and then my family moved to a suburb of Philadelphia. My dad still lives in Maryland, and I think I will always consider myself a Maryland native, especially since I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park.
What brought you to Memphis?
After college, I was hired at WBOC-TV in Salisbury, Maryland, as an on-air news reporter. After spending four years there, I decided to pursue job opportunities in larger TV markets and was offered a position at WPTY-TV here in Memphis.
How did you switch gears and end up at the Humane Society?
After leaving TV, I spent three years as a corporate event planner, and then did organizational business consulting for local Memphis companies. During this time, I volunteered my services as a member of the advisory board for the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County, helping with special events and media relations. In spring of 2011, when the former leader left, I was offered the opportunity to step up and fill the role of Executive Director.
What are some of the biggest challenges that your organization faces?
Our primary challenges are two-fold. First is trying to help all of the animals in this community that need our help. Sadly, our space and resources are limited, so we cannot save them all. The good news is we have an animal care team that has dramatically increased intakes and an adoption staff that has doubled adoptions year-to-date, so we are helping more animals than ever before. We are also focused on proactive efforts with our big focus being Project STOP, which provides free or low-cost spays, neuters and vaccinations for low-income pet owners. We are currently raising money for a mobile spay/ neuter unit to take out into communities and help further reduce animal overpopulation. Our other major challenge is funding. As a 100 percent donation-funded organization, we rely on the generosity of animal lovers to keep our doors open. Treating hundreds of animals that are injured or abused is an expensive undertaking, so we need all the financial help we can get to achieve our mission.
Any advice for someone considering pet adoption?
Adopt, don’t shop! Every year thousands of perfectly adoptable animals are euthanized right here in Shelby County for no other reason than there is not someone willing to give them a home. If you are looking for a specific kind of dog or cat and can’t find it at your local shelter or humane society, look online for breed-specific rescue groups. I guarantee there is an animal that is perfect for you.
Dogs or Cats? Can you pick a fave?
I grew up a “dog” person and have 3 dogs in my home now, but the more I am around the awesome cats we have here at HSMSC, the more I am becoming a “cat” person! I’ve really grown to appreciate their unique personalities, and have taken several baby kittens home to bottle feed and foster. I would say I am a “pet” person and leave it at that.
What inspires you?
I am inspired on a daily basis by the amazing work the staff and volunteers here at HSMSC do for the animals!
From the volunteers who stayed overnight for 10 straight hours to help with our 2nd Annual Mega Adoptathon to those who take tiny puppies, kittens, nursing moms and their babies, and dogs with broken pelvises into their homes and care for them for weeks, sometimes months, until they are ready for adoption, I work among amazing people.
I was inspired recently when our vet clinic manager gave a 6-day-old puppy CPR and mouth-to-mouth and literally brought the animal back to life.
What are your hobbies, guilty pleasures and/or special indulgences?
I don’t have a ton of hobbies but I am a big music fan and love to go to concerts. I also play on a kickball team and have had a blast doing that and getting to know a great new group of friends.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Hire good people and get out of their way. My stepdad, who is the president of a company, taught me that and since I took this position, this advice has guided me in every hiring decision and management decision I’ve made.
What is your favorite thing about living and working in Memphis?
Although I’ve only been here nine years, I feel like I know this city like I’ve lived here all my life. I know where to go for just about anything and everything, and I have certainly made the best friends of my life since I’ve been here. People in Memphis are so willing to make new friends, and that has been one of my great joys in life: getting to know new, wonderful people all the time who have added so much to my life.
What does your ideal Saturday look like?
The weather would be warm but not hot; mid-80’s is perfect. I would start the day taking the dogs for a walk, then come home and sit outside on the porch with a cup of coffee and a good book. Around lunchtime, we’d head out, hopefully to one of the awesome festivals Memphis has to offer, like the Overton Square Crawfish Festival, one of my annual favorites. After an afternoon with friends, we would all head to dinner on one of the great Memphis patios, or have a “dog night” on someone’s back porch, where all of our four-legged children get to run around and play while we hang out and have cocktails as the sun goes down. Doesn’t get much better than that!
What one word best describes you?
Do you have a favorite travel destination?
I have been to a lot of amazing places, and right up there near the top is definitely Croatia. People don’t realize how beautiful the coastal islands are there. But ultimately, if I had to pick one favorite, it is Jamaica. I adore reggae music, shellfish, beaches, Red Stripe beer, rum punch, the Jamaican accent, Blue Mountain Coffee, jerk chicken, etc. It really is the most magical place on earth!
Do you have any irrational fears?
I am ridiculously afraid of sharks, particularly Great Whites. I think this irrational fear stemmed from my parents allowing me to watch Jaws at too young of an age. I remember being afraid to go in a pool at night because I thought Jaws would come through the drain and get me.
What books can be found by your bedside or on your tablet?
I read action thrillers that involve CIA agents, secret military operatives, homicide detectives, and lawyers. I am lucky that I get to inherit all of my reading material from my stepdad’s Kindle onto mine (the wonders of shared Amazon accounts!).
What are three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God):
Coffee, my dogs and my iPod
Thank you Alexis for doing what you do with such enthusiasm and passion. For more information, visit memphishumane.org.
Thank you to Christen Jones Photopgraphy for the lovely images!