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Meet the new director of the Animal Friends shelter in Wildomar

By in Press Enterprise on July 29, 2017

By Michael Williams

Whether subduing pit bulls in high-rise London crack houses, helping to rescue animals stranded by the 2004 tsunami in Asia, or instituting more humane euthanasia techniques in South America, Neil Trent has traveled the world over the last three decades with a mission of improving the lives of animals.

Now, he has landed in Wildomar.

Animal Friends of the Valleys, which operates Southwest County’s regional shelter on Mission Trail, recently hired Trent as its executive director after conducting a nationwide search.

“I think with his experience, he’s going to take the shelter to the next level,” Animal Friends board President Tammi Boyd said.

Trent’s arrival in mid-June ended a six-month stretch during which Animal Friends had operated without a chief administrator. The organization’s board relieved its executive director of 12 years — Willa Bagwell — of her duties in December. The nonprofit is compensating Trent with a package worth about $125,000 per year. Bagwell made approximately $80,000, officials said.

“We’re looking for continuity,” said Wildomar City Councilwoman Bridgette Moore, who represents the city on a coalition that oversees shelter financing. “Hopefully, he’s here to stay for a while and will lead Animal Friends of the Valleys on to bigger and better things.”

Part of his mission, Boyd said, will be to help the shelter achieve its strategic plan, which calls for expanding upon rescues, pet foster care, volunteers and education.

“His attitude and not just local, but international experience, is going to create a positive and supportive atmosphere and sustain the new culture we’re trying to create at Animal Friends of the Valleys,” she said.

A native of London, Trent spent much of his career working on animal issues internationally. In the U.S., he has overseen shelters in California, Colorado and most recently Arlington, Virginia.

“I had spent seven years in Arlington and developed lots of programs,” he said. […]    

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