APPLE VALLEY — Gina Whiteside was all smiles Tuesday upon receiving special recognition from Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, for her “tireless efforts” and “work toward animal welfare.”

A town employee of 22 years, Whiteside currently serves as Director of Animal Services at the Apple Valley Municipal Animal Shelter where she “goes above and beyond in all of her services," according to Chris Nunez, Obernolte’s field representative.

“We’ve received multiple phone calls and emails regarding the efforts Ms. Whiteside has made in our community,” Nunez said. “From helping (turn) animals into pets and family members, (to) reuniting those pets with family members when they run away, which most inevitably do, especially here after the Fourth of July holiday.”

Whiteside’s efforts don’t end there, though.

During last August’s Bluecut Fire, for example, Whiteside led a frenzied team of employees and volunteers at the shelter where nearly 450 displaced animals were taken after some 82,000 evacuation orders were issued.

In addition to caring for everything from dogs and cats to lizards and guinea pigs, shelter staff and volunteers constructed emergency holding pens in the staff parking lot and along the interior courtyard to accommodate the influx, all under Whiteside’s guidance.

Obernolte’s recognition ended, “Our furry friends and citizens alike are lucky to have you.”

On Tuesday, after Whiteside posed for pictures with four of her five children, Councilor Barb Stanton said “there’s no one like Gina,” calling Whiteside “amazing.” And Mayor Scott Nassif reserved his own praise following the brief ceremony.

“Gina’s been here much longer than I have,” he said. “She’s done a great job for our community and our town. We appreciate everything you’ve done and continue to do with us.”

Matthew Cabe can be reached at MCabe@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6254. Follow him on Twitter @DP_MatthewCabe.