By: Sarah A. Neikam, SPCA Albrecht Center Marketing Director

Jun 18, 2024

Last year, the SPCA Albrecht Center’s longtime shelter manager stepped into the role of Executive Director, leaving a significant role to fill. We finally found the right person in a dedicated volunteer who had become increasingly involved in various shelter roles, spending so much time at the shelter that becoming the new Shelter Manager seemed like a natural fit.

Allison LaBorde recently took some time to share a bit about herself:

Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Aiken?

“I grew up in Columbia, SC. I went to Irmo High School and then USC. In 2005, my husband finished graduate school and got a job at the Savannah River National Laboratory. It wasn’t until 2008 that I finally agreed to leave downtown Columbia and move to Aiken. It took me a long time to get used to the smaller town aspect, but now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Your first introduction to the SPCA Albrecht Center was as a volunteer, right? What prompted you and your kids to volunteer, and what was that experience like?

“My daughter, Victoria, wanted to volunteer at the shelter during middle school. Our family had lots of pets, from dogs to hermit crabs, but never a cat, so she wanted to play with the cats and kittens. Her older sister, Elizabeth, and I started volunteering a month later. They would go with me when I walked dogs, and eventually, all four of my children and my husband were dog walkers too. I loved getting to know the dogs and had an affinity for the energetic ones who usually ended up with a longer shelter stay. It meant a lot to know that I made a huge difference in their day just by spending that bit of time with them. I also volunteered as a greeter at the Vet Care Center, and we fostered as a family too. I have fond memories of all our foster experiences and would recommend it to other families.”

What did you do before you were an animal-shelter-volunteer-turned-shelter-manager?

“I’ve held a variety of jobs, from camp counselor to gym manager. Before working at the SPCA Albrecht Center, I had taken seventeen years off work to homeschool my children before sending them each to high school. I helped out with Aiken High’s Cross Country team and was the distance track coach for a while. Last summer, I temporarily filled in at the adoption center front desk while a staff member was on medical leave. I enjoyed it so much that I stuck around even after she returned.”

What has surprised you the most about the job?

“I am surprised by how technologically inept I am. Browsing the internet and using Netflix did not prepare me for the variety of software I would have to learn to use and be humbled by on a daily basis.”

What do you enjoy most about the job?

“Simple moments with the dogs and cats, but I also really like my co-workers.”

If you could tell people one big misconception about animal shelters, something you had to learn yourself, what would it be?

“There is no easy job in an animal shelter. At the end of the day, we are all hoping to find good homes for the animals we come to love. We try as hard as possible to make their stay with us as good as we can, but we are not really a home. It hurts to see people walk by their rooms and not see the greatness we see in each of them.”

What do you hope to accomplish in your position?

“I want to help our shelter be the best it can be by minimizing animals’ time in our shelter and making their time with us as happy as possible. I hope we can continue to be a great place to visit, adopt from, volunteer, or work. I have some big shoes to fill, but I am looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”

Finally, tell us about your pets!

“It’s hard for me to stop talking about my pets! I have two large dogs, Diego and Lydia, and four small ones, Reepicheep, Pepsi, Lolli, and Cookie. I also have three grand-dogs, Keira, Pepper, and Wasabi, and I am hoping to take on some foster kittens soon. I have a rabbit and a guinea pig who both came from the SPCA Albrecht Center too. I can’t even imagine life without them; I would definitely laugh less.”

We hope Allison will continue working and laughing with us for many years to come. If you haven’t already, come meet Allison and all of us at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Learn more about us, how we’re pets and people in our community, and how you can help us do so at

Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken, SC. She has been with the organization since 2012, holding various roles including Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Operations & HR. A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator as of 2022, Sarah is a passionate advocate for animal welfare. She resides in Aiken with her husband, Tom, and several beloved cats.