Spotlight on Animal Heroes:

Suzyn Barron, President of the Warwick Valley Humane Society

Suzyn Barron with rescued Chico
Suzyn with Chico, rescued from a remote road, tied to a tree with a sign “animal police please call.” He was adopted and became a certified service dog for a veteran with PTSD.
Suzyn Barron
Suzyn Barron

How do you describe someone who is the President of the Board that manages the Warwick Valley Humane Society, does animal control work, brings home kittens to foster, participates in or leads cruelty investigation cases, writes a pet column for the local newspaper, supervises a paid and volunteer staff, develops community outreach programs, and is a disaster relief responder? After serving as Treasurer upon joining the Board in 1990, she became President in 2000 and has since established a low-cost spay/neuter program, improved existing facilities, and in 2023 opened a new state-of-the-art animal shelter.  And these are only a few of the areas and projects in the wide scope of her duties.

Too many words come to mind – dedicated, dynamic, compassionate, forward thinking, creative, tireless, smart, focused are a few — but they describe one well-respected and impressive woman, Suzyn Barron.

Starting with her picture as a two-year-old in the New York Daily News kissing her beloved boxer Mambo, Suzyn’s career path was varied until she found her true calling when she followed her heart and started working with animals.

Over time, her shelter began handling animals other than domestic pets and now includes a program to help wildlife in need. But along with increased services, the public perception and expectations for shelters has changed, and in Suzyn’s own words “unfortunately personal responsibility has diminished as people try to avoid the word surrender or relinquish and think they are just rehoming an animal.”

Suzyn as child and her dog exchanging a kiss
Suzy’s and Mambo’s picture published in the New York Daily News.

Anyone who has worked or known a person engaged in animal welfare is aware of how frustrating non-commitment to four-legged family members is.  Add to that staffing shortages, financial issues, and the endless but individual animals who break your heart and it’s clear that anyone doing this for any length of time with such a long list of personal and professional accomplishments is remarkable!

Just coping on a daily basis can be a challenge, but to have implemented so many successful programs, including working with domestic violence shelters and other daily improvements, is deserving of special recognition, yet to her it’s just what you do.

And still with all she has going on right now, Suzyn is planning continual upgrades in her new shelter and a wildlife rehabilitation and education center in the future. Considering her past achievements, there’s no doubt she will get all this done!

We recently had a long conversation with Suzyn but unfortunately space does not permit us to truly honor her the way we would like to. Please see the full interview on our website, linking from this article.

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol. XLII, Fall 2023.