Naperville Humane Society—More Than Just Puppy Love

August 2014 View more

Anna Payton, Executive Director

Anna Payton, Executive Director

Like many children, Anna Payton loved animals. She wasn’t allowed to have dogs or cats due to her mother’s busy work schedule, so Payton filled their suburban home with hamsters, gerbils, parakeets, goldfish, tadpoles, frogs, and even a leech at one point. She loved animals so much, she would even cry at the sight of road kill.

When she left home and went off to college, a rebellious Payton bought a black lab puppy without telling her mom. The first time Payton’s mom heard about the dog was when the two jumped into the car to come home for summer vacation.

“I named [the puppy] Mira because it was a miracle my mom let me back in the house that summer,” Payton said with a laugh.

As the new Executive Director of the Naperville Area Humane Society, Payton is living her childhood dream. Every day, she is surrounded by the dogs, cats and other animals she loved dearly as a child. And regardless of her dog-less upbringing, Payton credit’s her mother for her compassion, empathy, and passion for animals. According to Payton, her mother was loving and caring to all living beings—both people and animals.

Payton, a Plainfield resident, comes to the Naperville Area Humane Society with more than a decade of experience in the animal welfare field. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her Master’s degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Humane Education from Webster University. She previously worked as an animal control officer and humane education and public events coordinator for DuPage County Animal Care and Control and was most recently the director of Kendall County Animal Control.

“In its 35th year, the Naperville Area Humane Society is an exciting place to be. The society is a well-run machine with a solid foundation and dedicated staff, volunteers, and board of directors,” said Payton. Aside from the programs currently in place, Payton hopes to fine-tune certain aspects of the organization and expand current programming to best serve the community and its animals.

“I’m looking to the future and how we can have continuing success,” Payton said.

For Payton, human education is a big focus of her job. She works hard to stress to prospective adopters that an animal is a long-term emotional and financial investment. Pet owners should learn about the animal’s health history, behavior, background and more when going through the adoption process. No animal should be purchased on a whim, she said.

“I pride myself on having good people skills, and any interaction with people is a window of opportunity to educate them about animals and the organization,” said Payton. “Education is really important. Pet ownership is a big thing to think about and shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Payton began her work with the Naperville Area Humane Society in late May at an exciting time for the organization. This summer, the shelter underwent renovations to receive new dog kennels, new flooring, fresh paint, and energy efficient lighting and windows, among other updates.

The updates and renovations are important for both the staff and the animals. But at the end of the day, after all of the facility renovations, fundraisers and community events, Payton said it’s all about the animals.

“We’re about providing animals with the care they need and helping them to find a forever home,” she said. “There’s no greater feeling in the world. We see so many sad things here, but the good outweighs the bad so much that it’s worth it in the end. That’s what I really enjoy.”

For more information:
Naperville Area Humane Society
630.420.8989, Extension 111