Erin Marler, a seven-year veteran of Franklin County Humane Society (FCHS), was promoted to shelter manager on Nov. 1.

Other staff changes for the shelter in Union include the hiring of Laura Amlong as director of development; Emily Velazquez is now serving as bookkeeper; and Allison Mitchell has moved to medical services.

Marler will oversee operations at the shelter. On an average day, the humane society has over 90 animals receiving temporary housing, food and medical services.

This year FCHS has adopted over 675 pets into new homes. The shelter also has reunited over 200 lost pets with their owners.

“Erin (Marler) has been a dedicated and inspirational employee at the shelter,” said Susie Blatt, board president. “When the position of manager became available she was a natural fit.”

Love for animals is what guides Marler’s work at FCHS. During her seven years, Marler has served as animal caretaker, bookkeeper and fundraising coordinator.

Having lived in both Pacific and St. Clair, she is familiar with Franklin County and takes pride in serving the pets and people of the area.

Marler said she’s looking forward to building upon programs established by previous shelter manager Donna King and has some new ideas as well.

“Saving animals is important to me,” she said. “I want to find new ways to make the public aware of the homeless animals available for adoption here in Franklin County.”

In December, Marler introduced, “The 25 Days of Catmas,” a program offering a reduced rate of $25 to adopt a cat from FCHS. Her goal for the shelter was to adopt out 25 cats by Dec. 25.

“We hit our goal by Dec. 5,” she said. “It was amazing how our employees and the community came together to exceed our goal.”

The program has been extended through the month of December.

Laura Amlong

Amlong, who started as director of development Nov. 15, is responsible for generating donations to maintain the functions of the shelter. She also is coordinator of volunteer services and community outreach focused on raising funds for FCHS.

The shelter does not receive any county, state or federal funding. The FCHS budget is dependent upon contributions of local businesses, organizations and individual donors.

Amlong previously worked in sales and marketing for AT&T, St. Louis. She has more recently helped fundraise for local organizations as a volunteer.

She founded the Washington Quiz Bowl Booster Club to support quiz bowl teams at Washington High School.

Amlong completed her undergraduate degree at Truman State University and has a master’s degree in training and development from Webster University.

“The shelter staff and volunteers I have met are working tirelessly to find families for homeless animals,” she said. “I know the tradition of giving is strong in this community and I look forward to educating donors and volunteers about the opportunities to help FCHS.”

Emily Velazquez

As the new bookkeeper for Franklin County Humane Society, Velazquez is in charge of recording successful adoptions, volunteer information, donations and financial information for the shelter.

She also is the designated Facebook and Instagram social media coordinator for the shelter. She updates the sites with photos of adoptable animals and other shelter programs.

“Our ‘blooper’ photos of animals are fan favorites,” said Velazquez, who graduated from Union High School and East Central College and has worked at FCHS for three years.

Allison Mitchell

Mitchell has worked with the shelter for a year. She previously led volunteer training and helped with fundraising and animal care.

She said she’s enjoying her move to medical services.

“When a new animal comes into the shelter, they are usually scared so it can be extra stressful if they are also sick,” she said. “If we can treat their illness, we can help them feel more relaxed until they find their forever home.”

Mitchell graduated from St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, earned an associate degree from East Central College and is currently studying at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

FCHS welcomes both volunteers and donations. Volunteer orientation is held at the shelter on the first Sunday of every month at 2 p.m.

The next session will be Jan. 6, 2019. Orientations are required in order to volunteer on-site at the shelter.

Discounts on microchipping pets with identification tags and vouchers for spay/neuter services also are available at the shelter.

Foster families are always needed for homeless dogs and cats. To download a foster application or make a donation, visit

For more information about FCHS programs, contact Amlong at