Cherokee County Animal Shelter Director Susan Garcia recently earned her Certified Animal Welfare Administrator certification through the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.

With this designation, Garcia is one of only 207 individuals in the United States, and the only person in the state of Georgia, to hold this certification.

“Obtaining the CAWA Certification was an important goal that I set for myself and represents my commitment and dedication to furthering my knowledge of all facets of the Animal Care and Administration profession and in developing continued leadership excellence,” Garcia said in a news release. “Cherokee County Animal Shelter strives to always be the best animal care facility in the state. As the only CAWA in Georgia, I hope to keep exceeding those goals.”

Public Services Agency Director Dana Martin added, “I am proud that Susan took this opportunity to strengthen her skillset as she leads the Cherokee County Animal Shelter. Under Susan’s leadership, the Animal Shelter continues to maintain high standards by providing exceptional care to the animals and service to this community.”

The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is an independent agency whose mission is to help develop strong leaders and promote standards of practice in the animal welfare profession. The association administers the Certified Animal Welfare Administrator program, which distinguishes top-level executives and manager working in both non-profit and municipal animal welfare agencies. In addition to meeting strict eligibility requirements for leadership and management in the animal welfare field, Garcia needed to pass a rigorous exam to earn her CAWA designation.

“Certified Animal Welfare Administrators have demonstrated that they hold specialized qualifications and a commitment to high standards and ethical practices in our industry. We respect their dedication to their own professional development and their pursuit of leadership excellence,” Association for Animal Welfare Advancement CEO Jim Tedford said in a prepared statement.

The CAWA exam covers best practices in animal welfare with questions reviewing leadership, human resources, finance, fundraising, marketing, administration and animal care. Obtaining her CAWA status validates Garcia’s work in the animal welfare field and illustrates her competency to contribute to broader animal welfare issues as they pertain to her community and across the country.

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