Coming Together as a Community for Animal Welfare with Emily Gelb

Today, I am happy to be speaking to Emily Gelb, who works at the Ashville Humane Society. Emily has helped expand community-based programs that aim to increase access to pet services in under-served communities. That includes helping people in crisis and finding ways for them to keep their pets at home. Having pets can be expensive. So, as part of my community project in the veterinary social work program, I also try to find helpful resources to assist low-income clients to keep their pets. I know how important animals are in people’s lives, so that project was important to me. In this episode, Emily shares many great ideas for how a community can come together to serve their people and pets in need. Stay tuned for more!

Like many others in the animal welfare field, Emily just fell into it. While serving in the Peace Corps, she volunteered at a vet clinic in a nearby city and worked with a grassroots dog rescue. When she returned from the Peace Corps, she met the north-east Regional Director with HSUS and ended up interning with her for several months. Through that internship, Emily learned about the range of different activities happening within the animal welfare field that she had no idea about before. When a Safety-Net Coordinator position opened up at Ashville Humane Society, it seemed like a perfect combination for her to get to help pets and people. Listen in today, to hear Emily’s story and find out about her great ideas for how communities can come together to provide solutions for people and their pets who are in need. 

Show highlights:

  • Emily talks about how she got into the field of animal welfare.
  • Emily shares her interesting and unique experience with the Peace Corps in Ecuador and what she learned there.
  • Emily talks about her Ecuadorian jungle dog, Sisa.
  • Emily explains what led to her work with immigrant communities and people experiencing homelessness.
  • Looking at implicit bias around people giving their pets up to a shelter.
  • Emily explains how she started the Human-Animal Support Certificate program through the program at the University of Tennessee.
  • Emily talks about her community programs at Ashville Humane Society.
  • Addressing the complicated issues around animals going into shelters.
  • What Emily has had to do; to keep people and their animals safe from Covid.
  • The transportation of pets to vets is a barrier in some communities. Emily explains what is getting done to help people with that.
  • Talking about the programs and services that help people in crises with their pets.
  • Emily talks about the AlignCare program and explains what it does and how it is going.
  • Emily discusses all the different programs with which she works.
  • Emily defines what One Health is.


Emily Gelb is the Director of Community Solutions at Asheville Humane Society. An NH native, she has worked at AHS for the last six years, and she has expanded the department to include multiple community-based programs aimed at increasing access to pet services in underserved communities, providing assistance for individuals in crisis, and keeping pets in homes. As a Returned Peace Corps volunteer, she is dedicated to using a participatory approach to community-based programming and is passionate about serving the immigrant community and individuals experiencing homelessness. Emily recently completed her Human-Animal Support certificate through UTK’s Veterinary Social Work program and is currently working with UT’s AlignCare program as a Veterinary Social Work Coordinator. Emily resides in Asheville, NC, with her beloved Ecuadorian jungle dog, Sisa, and Sundew, her recently adopted cat.

Links and resources:

Ashville Humane Society Website