Kerry S. Pettit knew her passion for working with animals when she first graduated from college. This passion that Pettit continuously followed opened up 24 years of many opportunities in the field of working with animals.
"We all learn what drives us and working with animals has always been my passion," Pettit said. "It's been a blessing that I have been working in all aspects of the animal field. When I was in college, I worked in the Animal Welfare League kennels, and I started out working in the local veterinary clinics."
Career opportunities in the animal field kept knocking on Pettit's door. She has worked for Sea World of Ohio, has cared for lions in Las Vegas and is now executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, currently located at 545 Brunstetter Road in Warren.
Pettit sits with Aiden III, a six-month-old Labrador retriever being trained to be a service dog for Canine Companions for Independence. Pettit and her husband, Jim, have been volunteer puppy trainers for CCI since 2006.
Following college, Pettit took a job with Sea World as a water quality diver and education narrator.
Next, Pettit went to Las Vegas, where she worked as an animal handler, caring for African lions and cubs that were at Lion Photo Studios at MGM Grand Hotels.
"When you work in any job, you understand the risks," Pettit said. "Much like a construction worker knows the risks of working with large equipment, you know the risks of working with animals. When you know your job and you know your role, you are confident.
''The lions were great animals to work with, and even though they are big animals, you learn that you have to have respect. You have to have respect for all animals," she said.
Pettit then acquired a position as an animal control officer for the city of Henderson, Nev., where she enforced local municipal codes involving animals.
"As an animal control officer, it was nice to see first-hand that animals were being reunited with their owners," Pettit said.
Pettit then relocated back to northeastern Ohio with her husband, Jim, to be closer to family. She said that when she was moving back from Nevada, a few members of the board at the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County knew about her credentials in the animal field and approached her about the position of American Welfare League executive director.
Dr. Jeff Williams, owner of Countryside Veterinary Service Inc. in Jamestown, Pa., and board president of the Animal Welfare League, said that the league is very fortunate to have Pettit a part of their team. Williams has been a veterinarian for 31 years.
"Kerry has well over 20 years of experience working with animals," Williams said. "I remember when she was a student at Youngstown State University and she worked at the All Creatures Unit at the Countryside Veterinary Service in Warren. We knew her as a co-worker and employee at the time, and then she left to attend YSU full-time.
''Years later, I was at an event at Sea World, and ... Pettit was the head trainer at the show. She was taking dogs and cats from animal shelters and training them to do an act. It was an amazing show," he said.
Williams was on the committee that selected Pettit for the executive director position in a unanimous vote. Williams said that Pettit is very devoted to strongly enforcing animal abuse laws.
"One of her goals is to strengthen the animal abuse laws here in Ohio and help to put a little more teeth into animal abuse laws," Williams said.
''The biggest aspect I always loved about the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County is that they educate people about animal ownership," Pettit said. "This area needs to have its own animal ownership laws and it needs to educate the public about responsible animal ownership. I think we need to progress in this area."
Edna Hanley of Hubbard is a member of the Animal Welfare League board of directors.
Hanley said that Pettit's good work makes a huge difference for the better for the animals in the community.
"It makes your heart break, just seeing how people abuse animals," Hanley said. "We are not in it for the money, but for the animals. We want to make sure their lives get better every day. Kerry has centered her life around helping animals and she is an asset to the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County."
Pettit is grateful to be back and working in the area.
"With all my positions helping animals and creating awareness, I am really honored to be the executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County," Pettit said.
"I have been very blessed with the many unique career opportunities working with animals. Every species of animal I have had the honor to work with or be the ambassador for has truly developed me into the person I am today."