MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair Township Animal Shelter (MTAS) Director Niki Dawson is leaving after serving in the capacity for less than a year.

Montclair Township officials stated that Dawson has decided to accept another position in animal rescue.

After a lengthy search and community frustrations with shelter conditions mounting, MTAS finally found what many believed to be the perfect fit for Shelter Director. Dawson had experience and expertise and a demeanor that many grew to love and respect. She took over as MTAS shelter Director during this tumultuous time in July of 2015 and has risen to the level whereas many in the community express that Dawson breathed life back into the troubled shelter. However, all of this is short-lived with her announcing her decision to leave less than a year later.

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In the short time she served the Township the improvements to shelter operations were many, say Township leaders. Dawson cross-trained staff to provide greater competencies and knowledge in animal care.

She helped organize and train core volunteers, which then allowed volunteers to participate in adoptions, community outreach, and shelter activities, greatly assisting in the operations of the shelter. Dawson also reorganized the layout of shelter spaces to better manage animal health and welfare and allow for more enrichment activities.

Her knowledge and insight helped elevate the shelter’s standing in the community and animal welfare arena. After the April 3 fire that devastated the shelter, Dawson continued to provide animal control to the communities we serve, while dealing with insurance investigators, restoration crews, architects and seeking out potential temporary sites. Dawson also connected with other communities to find resources for the shelter and homes for displaced animals.

Township officials stated that once Dawson has officially served her remaining time, appropriate measures will be swiftly put into place to ensure continuity in shelter operations. In the meantime, the shelter staff is continuing to move towards providing a temporary space to shelter our animals and assist the foster families who are still caring for the fire survivors.