Last week Char Quinn traveled with local Lauri Van Campen, from Eagle to Park City, Utah to pick up 24 dogs and cats, making room for refugee pets coming in from New Orleans and other areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. On the way back, Char and Lauri spent some time naming each animal after a state – the largest kitty is Montana, a young mother cat is Michigan, and each of her kittens are named after the Great Lakes. This particular naming scheme is slightly ironic, seeing as Char herself has lived in 13 different states. Char Quinn has been the smiling face behind the Eagle Valley Humane Society for six years now, since she moved here from Iowa in 1999. Last week, on top of driving to Utah and back, she was consumed with the Harvest Festival, which took place Saturday, September 17. The food and wine gala, in its sixth year, was held at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion and Char says that somewhere around $10,000 was raised at this year’s event for the Humane Society. Caramie Schnell: Let’s start with your background, Char, where were you born, where did you grow up? Char Quinn: This is my 13th state to live in. I was born in Texas, I don’t even remember it, though – I was too little. My dad was military. I was going to go into the Air Force myself, but I got pregnant with my daughter when I was in college and I was bedridden the whole time. She’s 11 now. CS: Do you have a favorite state? CQ: Here. This is the longest state I’ve ever lived in. I moved here over six years ago. We had some friends out here and for me, moving was nothing. We came from Iowa; we lived there very briefly. I hated it. I didn’t fit into small-town Iowa, at all. People thought I was weird, they were constantly telling me to fix my hair. People in Iowa would say, “if you do this to your hair it wouldn’t look so bad.” My hair appalled everybody. I moved out here with my daughter and husband. We’ve since been divorced. But we’re still very close. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska. I’m remarried, my husband works at Castle Peak Vet Clinic, his name is Brandon. On Friday we bought a snowplow business, though. I’ve had a really busy week. CS: And you’re the director of the Humane Society? CQ: Yes, I’ve been doing that for six years. One of my friends that lived here saw the job in the paper shortly after I moved. I’d been rescuing animals in Iowa. The job was all about bookkeeping, and all this stuff I was good at. The job has expanded since then – we’ve done a lot more. CS: Where did your love of animals come from? CQ: We always had dogs, but my mom hated cats, she’s allergic to them, too. When we lived in Iowa, we had a bad mouse problem. So we said, “OK, let’s get a cat,” even though neither of us knew anything about cats. And it was just the most fascinating creature in the world. CS: How many animals do you have now? CQ: Four dogs and two cats. One of my dogs has kind of moved out though, Ralph is living at the neighbors – he likes it better there. We live in McCoy. I’ve acquired all of the animals since I took the position. My ex-husband has the Malamute that we had when we moved here; she wanted to live with him. One of the dogs that I have right now is kind of a foster dog, Jack. He’ll probably be with us for another year. The other two I got at the shelter and the last one Brandon found on the side of the road years ago. CS: You just fell in love with animals at the shelter and brought them home? CQ: No, I’m very good at keeping that separate. I raise some animals from the bottle; I’ve never kept one of those. I’m raising a puppy on the bottle right now; well he actually got weaned yesterday. They’re with me for a period and then they go on. I knew I wanted a male malamute, Ty, that’s one of (my dogs). I wanted a small dog, that’s the other one, Mountain, he is a toy fox terrier. It’s about eight pounds with these big ears. We also have two cats, Domino and Bundy. Those are both from the shelter, too. CS: How did you meet your husband? CQ: We met at the vet clinic. We’ve been married three years now. I knew him for a couple of years ago before that. He’s very shy and I’m very outgoing. He’s a vet tech, he’s been trying to get into vet school for nine years, he’d have to go back to school and do his biology degree all over. That’s why we bought that business last week, he’s ready to try something else. He doesn’t want to go back to school for eight years, four was going to be bad enough. It’s really sad; he’s great with animals. CS: How old is your little girl? CQ: She’s 11 and she’s in 6th grade. Her name is Matelyn and she goes to Eagle Valley. CS: Does she love animals, too? CQ: Oh yeah. I think she sometimes wants to be a veterinarian, and I’m not a science person, but I think she’s got those skills. She got an award at the end of elementary school that said most likely to become a veterinarian. And since she started out at 5 years old, she might be able to get into vet school. CS: What’s your favorite thing about Eagle County? Why do you stay? CQ: The people. CS: What else do you do outside of work? CQ: I ride dirt bikes; I have my daughter riding one. Years ago I used to race motor cross. I had too many wrecks, so I quit. Brandon rides and I’ve got my daughter riding. Getting back into it is certainly a learning experience for me. I don’t ski, I don’t snowboard. I snowshoe, I raft and I like to hike. VT Caramie Schnell can be reached at email@example.com.