(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Losing a loved one is never easy.
And at a local animal shelter, that loss is being felt after the passing of the woman who served the shelter for more than three decades.
This weekend, they’re paying tribute to that woman.
Eyewitness News Reporter Rachael Espaillat explains how.
Hillside S-P-C-A volunteers enjoy playing with and taking care of the animals at the shelter. But behind the smiles they are coping with a loss of executive director Barbara Umlauf “She hung the moons and the stars” Said Glory Marks, a Volunteer at the SPCA
Holly Kowalishen, Assistant Manager said fighting back tears “All our hearts are crushed. We miss her every day. Every day you pull into this parking lot, it’s hard.”
It’s been nearly two months since Umlauf passed following a battle with cancer. She was with the shelter for almost 34 years .
“She was everybody’s hero. I never heard a bad thing said about her” Said Michael Krebs, Volunteer.
When Barbara first started here, there was only one building. But she was able to expand the animal shelter into 5 buildings. Everyone who worked around her says it was her mission to make the animals feel like family.
Kowalishen says Barbara kept these four-legged friends out of kennels and cages as often as possible, fed treats like hot dogs and would walk up the mountains with the dogs leash free up until her last months.
Even through her 2 year battle with cancer, Hillside workers say she always kept a positive attitude.
Kennel worker, Kim Weist remembers, “We were having a stressful day and my husband showed up on a motorcycle, and she insisted on going for a ride….just to get away from here for ten minutes on the back of the bike was just amazing.”
Working to continue her legacy the shelter is holding a pet adoption this weekend (February 16-17) and are encouraging people to sponsor pets in exchange for waived adoption fees. An effort to find new homes for unwanted animals Barbara would have approved of
Other proceeds from this weekend will go toward the Carolyn and Joe foundation — which Barbara started in memory of her son and daughter.
It covers the cost of animal medical expenses. Learn more about Hillside SPCA