Ulster County SPCA executive director Gina Carbonari started her animal rescue work more than 16 years ago. At the time, she was stationed in North Carolina on active duty in the US Marine Corps, and she began fostering a dog she got at a local shelter. In Carbonari’s words, “They’re like potato chips, you just can’t have one.”
After her time in the military, Carbonari came to the Hudson Valley and began her own business after becoming a certified dog groomer and trainer. Now, as the executive director for the Ulster County SPCA, she continues to inspire many with her dedication not just to the animals but to the people attached to them—a sterling record that earned the SPCA a Chronogrammie in the Animal Welfare Organization category and Carbonari a runner-up award in the Animal Welfare Advocate/Activist category.
Carbonari and the UCSPCA go beyond providing a safe place for animals in the area, they touch lives in the entire community. “Every animal that comes in here has a human that is attached to them,” Carbonari says. “A pet that comes in here because of economic issues, housing issues—there is a human that is going through the exact same thing.”
Carbonari shares that her favorite thing about working at the SPCA is “seeing the ability to keep animals in their homes, which is a huge shift in animal welfare in the last few years.” The UCSPCA strives to problem-solve with community members, whenever possible working to keep beloved pets in their home, even in tough situations. When someone comes in distraught over a medical bill, behavior issues, or other common stressors for pet owners, Carbonari and team use their resources to solve any problem they can and, as a last resort, offer a safe haven for pets that need housing.