(This week The Columbian-Progress spotlights Columbia Animal Control and Rescue Coordinator Mallory Belk.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Centreville, but at the time we lived in Louisiana; Centreville had the closest hospital. I was born Nov. 18, 1994.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: I attended East Marion High School.
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job/company.
A: I am the coordinator for the Columbia Animal Control and Rescue. I take care of the animals and keep up with their medicals. I do the paperwork, cleaning, pickups for animal control and adoptions.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: It was not in my plan. I never saw myself here, but I started working for Hub City at their thrift store a couple of years ago and got into the rescue part of it. This job popped up, I applied for it and got it, and it turns out I do love it.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Rehabilitating animals. Every once in a while we’ll get a really malnourished, scarred up pit bull or any kind of dog period. We’ll sit down for times during the day and socialize them. We had one adopted last week that was something. He was super dog aggressive, but it takes the right kind of home for dogs like that. Now he’s the only dog at his home, has tons of land he can run around in and absolutely loves it at his house. Being able to rehabilitate animals and find them the perfect home is what I really enjoy about it.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: Keeping up. There’s a lot of animals that need rescue, and we’ve only got so much room. The most challenging part is transport because we try to get all of our small dogs and puppies out of here as soon as they come in here by transferring them to other facilities. Transport keeps our numbers down because we don’t have a lot of people coming in to adopt.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
A: Staying focused and not letting the bad times get you down because there’s always going to be an up. It’s hard not to get down mentally in this job because there are things that we come across that really make you mad like people dumping animals on the side of the road. You just have to not let it bother you and just keep pushing and get them taken care of because everything will be OK.
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A pediatric oncologist. I wanted to go into the medical field, but by the time I was 17 that switched. I was in allied health through votech, and I did my internship at Watts Animal Clinic. I didn’t know it at the time that that’s what I wanted to go into, but by the time I graduated I was planning to go to veterinarian school. I didn’t, but that was probably for the best because I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be at.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I was the café manager at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.
Q: Who is the person who has been most influential in your life?
A: My sister, Danielle Barber. She is really deep into the community here and is here at the shelter also. She is over the Mercy Project. She is 16 years older than me so she had a hand in raising me. She’s definitely the most influential because I look up to her.
Q: What is your spouse’s name?
A: Tyler Belk. He is a wireless services technician. He climbs cell towers.
Q: Do you have children?
A: I have a son, Harrison, who will be 3 next week.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: Definitely a steak cooked medium from Sully’s.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: France. My dad’s side of the family came over here from France. From what I’ve been told they had a vineyard over there, and I would love to go and visit over there and see what that’s like.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: In my spare time I’m pretty much here hanging out with the animals.
Q: What do you enjoy about Columbia and Marion County?
A: I love the small-town atmosphere. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else. I love the people I work with. I’ve been here since I was 5 years old. It’s just a really enjoyable place to be and work.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: My great-great grandfather August Dours. He was the first one in my family to come over from France. I haven’t been able to find anything on my family past him so it would be nice to kind of hear his stories and learn about my family.
Q: If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do all day?
A: Work and rescue. If I wasn’t working here, I’d be volunteering here for sure.
Q: What moment in your life has had the biggest impact on who you are today?
A: My mom, Gloria Pendarvis Dours, died when I was 17 of a drug overdose, which is probably where the big shift in who I am happened because I had to grow up very fast. It definitely changed me, and it was hard. I tried to get into the Mercy Project with my sister also, which helps get drug addicts into recovery. That was the biggest.
Q: What is one thing you want to do that you’ve never tried?
A: I’d say traveling. I would love to spend several years just traveling the world and go to all of the big historical landmarks and learn about those.
Q: Using one word for each, what are your top three morals?
A: Honesty, respect and trustworthiness.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I would love to be remembered as someone who changed the lives for these neglected animals that are just everywhere. Shelters everywhere are overpopulated. I’d love to have a hand in changing the laws of Mississippi because the state laws are kind of old and lacking. That would be awesome.
— Joshua Campbell