Wallis Annenberg PetSpace director Gabrielle Amster is committed to the welfare of animals
By Kamala Kirk / Photo credit: Samantha Gonzalez, Wallis Annenberg PetSpace
Throughout her life and career, Gabrielle Amster has been dedicated to animal welfare. Prior to joining Wallis Annenberg PetSpace as director in 2021, she was the executive director of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and previously held leadership positions with the Santa Fe Animal Shelter in New Mexico, Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo, and Animal Trustees in Austin, Texas.
“Like many in this field, working with animals has always been a part of my life’s focus,” Amster says. “I grew up on a small farm and volunteered at a local rescue as a child.”
One of the things that drew Amster to Annenberg PetSpace was Wallis Annenberg’s innovative approach to philanthropy and her commitment to animals and their environment.
“I appreciate the idea of being a community resource in the areas of humane education and immersive animal experiences around the human animal bond,” Amster says. “We are now beginning to understand that providing support to pet owners is equally as important as caring for pets, and finding solutions and resources for both is incredibly meaningful to me.”
In her role as director, Amster’s goals include focusing on identifying the needs of PetSpace partner animal agencies by finding ways to help shoulder the burden of care for the thousands of animals they are tasked with housing every year, as well as increasing training and education opportunities for animal welfare professionals.
“In the short term, our focus is to join our city and our nation in cautiously and safely returning to a new normal,” Amster says. “Inviting the public back to PetSpace, reestablishing our vibrant community events, humane education programs, and of course, helping more homeless pets than ever before find loving homes in our community.”
Amster and her team at Annenberg PetSpace are excited to welcome the community back this spring with a series of exciting events and experiences including two Spring Break sessions of PetSpace Kids Camp for young animal lovers, workshops, lectures and training classes.
PetSpace also offers weekly programs such as grooming demos, facility tours, pet encounters, as well as Paws & Pages: an in-person experience on Saturdays and Sundays that helps young readers build communication skills by participating in a story time session with adoptable animals.
“We are focusing on more weekend activities for the entire family to enjoy, including recurring PetSpace Give Back hours where people of all ages can help make and donate essential items for our shelter partners,” Amster says. “We are working on bringing in more animals than ever from our community partners to help save as many lives as possible, which means even more adoption events. Last, but certainly not least, we have our five-year AnniFURsary celebration coming up this June. We can’t wait to celebrate this milestone with everyone.”
For those interested in getting involved, Amster says there are many ways to be part of the PetSpace community, such as their robust volunteer program where people can help with everything from walking dogs and socializing shy animals to helping with kids programming and special events.
“We launched our Extraordinary Care Fund, which specifically supports our work with high-risk medical and behavioral cases,” Amster says. “These are animals whose lives are most vulnerable in shelter environments. Donations to this fund directly cover the costs associated with the specialized care needed to help save their lives and help them find a home. Those interested in supporting this effort can donate online through our website.”
When asked what she enjoys about working in the animal welfare industry, Amster shares that she loves being of service to pet owners in the community, collaborating with animal industry leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, and others who care about the future and well-being of animals.
“I also enjoy having amazing animal agency partners, particularly in California and here in the Los Angeles area,” Amster says. “I’m endlessly inspired by how progressive and committed our partners are to the welfare of pets. I’m lucky to be able to work alongside them.”
A New Mexico native, Amster is now a resident of nearby Westchester and has been exploring Playa Vista and the LA area, which she describes as “an amazingly rich and vibrant place to be.” She also enjoys spending time with her four dogs.
“I’m one of those people who just loves all creatures and appreciates being able to share the planet with them,” Amster says. “It’s truly an honor to be a part of the Annenberg legacy and be trusted with supporting Wallis’ vision for promoting the human animal bond. I’m incredibly proud to have joined a team of creative, committed and highly skilled professionals who give so much to the animals of our community.”
Wallis Annenberg PetSpace
12005 Bluff Creek Drive, Playa Vista