MONTROSE – Kari Kishiyama's compassion and affection for animals is why she is the Montrose Animal Shelter manager and an animal control officer, but her hard work and dedication is why she was awarded the 2011 City of Montrose Employee of the Year.
“She really does always go above and beyond,” Animal Service Supervisor Mike Duncan said. “And after eight years of going above and beyond, putting in 150 percent and leading by example, it's great she is recognized for that.”
Kishiyama had always wanted to pursue a career that concerned animals. After graduating from Montrose High School in 2000, she went on to study wildlife biology at Mesa State College, now Colorado Mesa University, in Grand Junction.
When she spotted a shelter technician opening in an area newspaper, she jumped at the chance to use her skills from her degree, as well as her prior vet technician and livestock experience.
Now, eight years later, Kishiyama knows she made the right choice.
“I love my job here,” she said, while holding a big-eyed lap dog that's up for adoption at the shelter. “If I retired from the City of Montrose in another 30 years, that would be just fine for me.”
Kishiyama's day consists of cleaning the kennels, exercising the dogs and caring for the animals in the morning – regular technician duties, she said. And in the afternoon, she moves on to her manager duties that include gathering shelter statistics for reports and grants. She also is in charge of staff scheduling, sets up the shelter's spay and neutering clinics and helps Duncan with administration responsibilities. And Kishiyama is certified as an officer, filling in when needed, and helps conduct dog temperament testing.
"She is very much a team player," Duncan said.
A perfect example: Kishiyama comes in before daylight every Thanksgiving and Christmas to clean the shelter so that employees can leave early to be with their families, he said.
“She's like a red Solo cup,” Duncan said jokingly, referring to country star Toby Keith's “Red Solo Cup” song that talks about the diverse uses of a red Solo cup and Keith's attachment to it.
But for Kishiyama, her job at the shelter provides her with satisfaction she doesn't believe many people get from their career paths.
“I see them (shelter animals) go from what they were to a happy, healthy animal and finding them a good home – it becomes a personal goal,” Kishiyama said. “And to see it all come together is great. It is something that not everyone gets to experience in their job.”