Giroux excited about new role

Published 9:18 pm Friday, November 13, 2009

Anyone who knows Heidi Giroux knows she’s an animal lover.

Giroux has six pets, and has worked with the Virginia Beach SPCA as a humane educator and events director for years. She also served as foster parent to hundreds of animals over the years, giving them a home as they wait for adoption.

Now, Giroux is the new executive director of the Suffolk Humane Society, giving her the chance to work with animals and volunteers in Suffolk.

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“I saw that this opportunity had opened up,” Giroux said. “It’s a really good opportunity because Suffolk Humane is still fairly new. It has a lot of community support.”

The society’s former director, Angela Chandler, stepped down to serve on the board of the organization.

The 33-year-old Giroux has only been on the job for two days, but already plans to build upon the many accomplishments of the relatively young organization. Giroux mentioned the main goals of reducing euthanasia through a spay/neuter program, humane education and adoption programs as her top priorities.

“Those are the top three things that animal welfare professionals need to focus on,” Giroux said. “There are millions and millions of animals out there. If we can get people into shelters … or coming to adoption events, we can find them homes rather than buying or breeding animals.”

So much of humane education focuses on children, Giroux said, but she also wants to change the perceptions of some adults.

“Some people have the best intentions for their pets and they do what they’ve always done,” Giroux said. “As we learn more and more about animals, not only physical needs but emotional needs, it takes some changed minds and changed hearts to get people to view animals as not possessions but more as part of the family.”

Giroux hopes to be able to create a shelter for the Suffolk Humane Society to use. Currently, the society works with Suffolk Animal Control to find homes for the pets in the city shelter.

“I certainly hope at some point we’ll be able to take care of some of that burden of housing and caring for animals,” Giroux said.

Giroux’s first opportunity to meet many in the Suffolk community will be at the society’s regular monthly meeting Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at 1047 Nansemond Parkway. She already has been able to meet many of the organization’s volunteers, she said.

“This organization has some amazing volunteers that have really devoted a lot of time and energy into making it what it is today,” Giroux said.

“I’m really excited to get out and meet the community,” Giroux said. “I’m hoping people will come out (to Wednesday’s meeting) and tell me what they see as the humane society’s role, let me know what the pulse is out there.”

For more information on the Suffolk Humane Society, visit