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INTERVIEW: Joseph Sprague Talks Joining Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation As New Executive Director

T.J. Clemente

Joseph Sprague, Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Executive Director. (Photo Courtesy of SASF)

With over 30 years of experience in the humane movement and animal welfare, Joseph Sprague has taken the helm of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) as the non-profit's new Executive Director. Still only a few weeks on the job, Sprague took the time to talk with Hamptons.com about his vision moving forward for SASF.

Sprague said he found the position because the Foundation, "Had an advertisement in Animal Sheltering, it's put out by the Humane Society of the U.S. They had an ad." After a series of calls and interviews, Sprague was selected. He has a vast history of removing animals from their abusers and hopeless situations and providing them with a better life. Prior to joining SASF, Sprague was the Executive Director at Sumter County Humane Society & SPCA in Lake Panasoffkee, Florida. His work has also taken him to Arkansas, Illinois, and upstate New York.

When asked what will a Joseph Sprague run organization look like, he said, "I have been doing this for 30 years, my focus is always on the animals, and everything that we do is aimed at increasing the programs and availability of services for the general public to help them with their animals they have, plus the animals we are looking to get adopted, as well as looking to rescue as many animals that need rescuing. I am looking at increasing the level of programs that we are offering, as well as services for the community at large and increasing the number of animals we are adopting now. My focus is always on the animal because the animal is our client. That is who we are here for. We are here for them, to protect them, make sure they are getting into the right homes and that those homes they are getting into are their forever homes."

He also said, "This is only my second week here, so I am concentrating on what we are currently doing and how well we are doing it. My big thing is always marketing and promotion of the facility. To make this the place they want to come to, the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation. That's my big target, the education of the general public to know who we are and what we do."

Sprague said, "We are still in a situation where everything is done by appointment. When they come, we follow social distancing. Masks are required. We are starting to open up some of our programs again. We do have our training, which has started back up again. We will be starting in the next few weeks to reopen our volunteer orientation and we are now allowing volunteers to come back into the facility. We just require that they are wearing masks, that they social distance. While still reopening, we are doing everything on a limited number. We await when everything is safe and under control so that we can open the shelter to the general public."

He has relocated to Long Island from Florida with his partner and their fur family consisting of six cats and two dogs. Sprague said, "All my cats are special needs - ones that I have adopted in my career. About both of my dogs... one dog was in extremely bad abuse and starvation case and the other one, when she was a puppy, was thrown from a car on the thruway in Chicago. All my animals have been rescues. My oldest pet is Abby, she is 15, she is my female dog that was thrown from a car. My most current acquisition would be one of my cats and his name is Kepper. He is a male cat who at seven-weeks-old was thrown from a car and hit by the car following them. He sustained face injuries and lost his back leg, which was ripped off, so he is a three-legged cat with no tear ducts anymore in one eye and has a cracked nasal passage." There is no doubt that Joseph Sprague practices what he preaches.

Sprague said he looks forward to working with the shelter's current management team, the dedicated staff and heartfelt volunteers in order to continue to pursue the shelter's mission and goals, as well as to deepen the presence within the community with successful initiatives and programs to enrich the lives of those they serve, both four-legged and two-legged.

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