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Crusader Uses a Paws-On Approach

At Greenwich Adopt-A-Dog, Allyson Halm is a hands-on executive director. Recently, the shelter rescued two husky dogs that were tied to a tree. Instead of delegating the work, Halm washed the dogs herself.

"It was an emergency call from a family member; they were in over their heads," she said. "We hope soon we'll be able to go back and get the other two dogs who are still, unfortunately, there."

A Greenwich native, Halm said she was the kind of kid who brought animals home regularly. "They just would find me and follow me," she said. "It comes from within. It's so embedded that you don't realize how much you're sacrificing from your time and life."

Halm began working for a veterinarian after graduating from Greenwich High School. She went on to a 10-year apprenticeship with a dog trainer before joining the police force in animal control.

"Very quietly and slowly I think I brought the division of animal control to a level of respect by creating awareness that animals have worth," she said.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the founders of Adopt-A-Dog approached her to come on board. Since she became executive director, the number of animals housed has decreased. "If there are 20 pens, we will only have 20 dogs," she said. "I came in an said, 'I'm going to run this place humanely and safely by not overcrowding.' You're not running a humane organization if dogs are waiting 20 hours to be touched, fed or felt."

Halm was involved with Adopt-A-Dog long before, however. Her guidance led to the annual "Putting on the Dog" event. This year, the dog festival will be held Sept. 25 at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park. "That will be my legacy," she said. "It's our 23rd annual, and it's our biggest event of the year."

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