2016 Conference Speakers
Richard Angelo, Jr. is a Legislative Attorney for Best Friends Animal Society. His focus is on Best Friends’ Community Cat Initiatives and promoting legislation that will humanely and directly reduce the killing of cats in shelters across the country. He was previously a sole practitioner with an office in Davison, MI, focusing on companion animal-related matters and litigation. Richard has been a member of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan and has served as a council member of that Section since 2009. He is also a member of the National Animal Care and Control Association, American Bar Association, TIPS-Animal Law Committee, and a vice-chair of the newly formed International Law Section, Animal Law Committee. In addition to his work for Best Friends, Richard also volunteers at his local animal control shelter, and several other animal welfare organizations in Michigan. Richard resides in Goodrich, MI with his wife, four dogs, and three cats.
Missi Bellottie started rescuing canines in 2008. She moved to Lapeer MI from South Texas in 2011. In Texas, her husband Bill Bellottie operated a rescue for canines and farm animals such as horses and cattle. Upon arrival in Michigan in February of 2011, they planned to take a “break” from rescue. That didn’t last long as they saw a tremendous need for their experience in Detroit. In March of 2011 they became Detroit Bully Corps and in 2016 became a certified shelter with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Development and a Certified Rescue with Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.
CJ Bentley has been MHS’ Sr. Director of Operations for more than 5 years and previously was with MHS as a volunteer and then as a staff program manager for nearly 20 years. She is the past Executive Director of the Association of Professional Trainers and a current instructor for an Animal Assisted Therapy on-line program at Oakland University. She has taught dog obedience classes for more than 15 years and is a published author, radio, and TV spokesperson on dog behavior and training.
Susan Cosby serves as the Petco Foundation’s Director of Lifesaving Programs and Partnerships overseeing the alignment and forward progress of both the adoption and investment (grants) programs. Prior to joining the Foundation her experience included CEO, Executive Director and other leadership roles for both open and limited admission, public animal control and private shelters. Throughout her career she has utilized customer focused, data driven strategies, and a sense of urgency to improve organizational performance and increase lives saved.
Ayse Dunlap has worked in animal welfare for 18 years and joined the Cleveland APL in 2006. Prior to her time in Cleveland, she worked at Chicago’s Animal Care and Control, PAWS Chicago, and the Animal Humane Association in New Mexico. At the Cleveland APL, Ayse oversees operations including the admissions, adoptions, shelter wellness, veterinary, humane investigations, and TNR programs that assist more than 14,000 animals annually. She also oversees the APL’s newest program, project CARE (Community Animal Retention Effort), which is focused on creating proactive initiatives to help keep pets in their homes. Ayse currently has one dog and three cats. All three cats were foster failures. Maybe one day she’ll learn not to foster cats.
Nicole Fear began fostering for Canine Companions Rescue Center (CCRC) in 2009 and specializes in harder to place and senior dogs. She worked closely with CCRC’s manager to change intake policies to concentrate on local Michigan shelters and dogs with medical needs. She is an active animal advocate and currently works for Warren Animal Control.
Dr. Robert Fisher, DVM has been with MHS since 1985. In his role as Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Medicine, he oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations from both financial and medical standpoints. He is Chair of MHS’ legislative committee, and he is frequently called upon to testify before Michigan legislators regarding animal-related pending legislation. His MHS veterinary medicine practice focuses on orthopedic and soft tissue surgery.
Dr. Jeff Fortna graduated from veterinary school at Michigan State University in 2000. As a newly minted veterinarian, he began his career in small animal private practice. After five years in this traditional role, he branched out into other areas of meaningful veterinary work—teaching veterinary technician students and providing relief services at a municipal shelter. Shortly thereafter, he accepted a permanent position with the municipal shelter where he learned about the successes and challenges of shelter practice. Over his tenure working in shelter medicine, he has garnered a profound appreciation for the art and science that rests within this burgeoning field. Dr. Fortna has endeavored to stay at the leading edge of this new discipline by completing the Maddie’s Graduate Certificate in Shelter Medicine. He has gone on to become one of the first graduates to receive a master’s degree in shelter medicine at the University of Florida. This training has broadened his knowledge and skills in shelter medicine, veterinary forensics, and public health. His areas of professional interest include protocol development for animal shelters, disease outbreak management, public health and zoonotic diseases, and surgical proficiency in high volume caseloads. Outside of work, one will find “Dr. Jeff” marathon training, drinking coffee, or being trained by his shelter rescue dog, Beans.
Catherine Garrett is the Director of Development and Marketing at All About Animals Rescue. An advocate for feral cats for over 16 years, she heads the Trap Neuter Return program at the organization. Her first hands on experience with community cats was TNRing in Tokyo where she learned how critical spay/neuter is to bettering the lives of our feral friends. Over 3,000 caretakers have come through the AAAR TNR training and nearly 20,000 community cats have been sterilized in the past 5 years, a good portion under Catherine’s leadership.
Cheryl Gault is a founding member of the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance and has served as Treasurer since inception of the organization in 2003. Cheryl’s career background was in commercial lending having work as consultant, Vice President and loan officer for several financial institutions and directed Oakland County’s financial services for economic development including administration of the federal SBA program for the county. Cheryl has been a dog Mom to various rescue canine companions over the years. Her current four-legged children include a rescue and a foster that became a full time family member 6 years ago.
Ann Griffin, Esq. is a licensed attorney with more than 16 years of experience in legal education administration and teaching. She is Vice Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section, and she chairs the Section’s legislative committee. From 2008-10, she managed a low-cost feline spay/neuter program for MHS. In January 2015, she returned to MHS as Special Projects Manager, to serve as the Law Enforcement Training program administrator and to focus on legislative advocacy.
Tanya Hilgendorf has been leading HSHV for over 10 years. With a BA in Political Science from University of Michigan-Dearborn and a Masters in Social Work Administration and Public Policy from Wayne State University and having served as Executive Director of Ozone House, her passion centers on protecting the vulnerable (human and non-human animals) and transformational leadership that helps failing nonprofit organizations achieve mission success. With an incredible team of staff, volunteers, and supporters, HSHV built a state of the art facility and has become a thriving, dynamic animal welfare organization with a multi-service organization, with 100+ employees, 700+ volunteers, and a 95% save rate focused on rescuing, healing, saving and protecting. Tanya currently is the proud mom of several fabulous felines and a beautiful teenaged human.
Tawny Hammond, the Chief of Animal Services for the City of Austin, TX, has spent the last 29 years working in the public service arena, creating and implementing programs and services for people and their animals. For five years, Austin Animal Services has been a leader for municipal shelters in the nation, saving more than 90% of the more than 18,000 animals that come through the doors each year. Austin is the largest No Kill city in the nation. Chief Hammond has a proven track record of success, serving for more than 25 years in municipal government in Fairfax County, VA and bringing the Fairfax County Animal Shelter to No Kill in less than three years. Austin reached a new milestone, achieving live outcomes for nearly 95% of the more than 18,000 animals who came through its doors this past year.
Renee Jarackas has been in the veterinary field since 1986 and has extensive husbandry experience caring for horses and chickens. She also spent several years as a wildlife rehabber for waterfowl. Her passion for animals led her to join All About Animals Rescue in 2012. She is currently the Clinic Director of the organization and is helping pave the way for the non-profit to expand its sterilization capacity and reach. All About Animals Rescue Clinic currently performs over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures a year.
Jillian (Jill) Kane is a founding director of Furever Tails Animal Rescue, a foster-based, no-kill 501c3 canine and feline rescue. She has been prominent in the rescue community since 2012. She has always had a love for animals. In Dryden, where she graduated high school, she participated in the local 4-H programs and raised chickens, ducks, rabbits pigs, goats. Jill has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science but her passion has always been for helping animals. She currently resides in Oakland Township with her husband and sons in a large ranch home on 5 acres. She has taken part in rescuing more than 300 lives in only a few years. Her compassion and patience speak true for those whose voices cannot be heard.
Christie Keith is a communications and social media consultant for a number of animal welfare and veterinary clients, including The Shelter Pet Project, Maddie’s Fund, the Million Cat Challenge, the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and Dr. Marty Becker of “Good Morning America” and “The Dr. Oz Show.” She is a frequent speaker at animal welfare and pet writer conferences, and is a member of the advisory board of the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance in her adopted state of Michigan.
Kenneth Kempkens has 39 years in various management and sales positions in the graphic arts industry, during which time he met and developed a great relationship with Mr. George Fox at the Humane Society of Macomb. Ken was asked to join the Board of Directors when Mr. Fox passed away and eventually was elected to fill his seat on the Board. In 2014 he was elected to the Board of Directors as its President. In his 2nd year as President he assumed a more hands-on approach to the day-to-day operations of the shelter. Ken oversaw the introduction of many new and exciting programs and worked directly with the Director to make some positive changes and helped to move the Humane Society of Macomb from a high kill shelter to its current situation as a no kill shelter. In the past 12 months Ken is proud to say that through teamwork and a great crew they have accomplished the necessary steps to boast a 95% save rate. Ken intends to make sure that, using Best Practices, this trend will continue into the future. Ken has been married to his wife Josie for 43 years. They have two sons and three grandchildren. They have adopted numerous shelter animals and now live in Clinton Township with their lab/pit Roxie. She rules the house.
Dr. Julie Levy is professor of shelter medicine at the University of Florida. She is a specialist in small animal internal medicine and has published more than 100 scientific papers on the health and welfare of animals in shelters, feline infectious diseases, humane alternatives for cat population control, and contraceptive vaccines for cats. She founded Operation Catnip, a university-based community cat trap-neuter-return program that has sterilized more than 45,000 cats since 1998. In 2014, she joined Dr. Kate Hurley to launch the Million Cat Challenge, a shelter-based campaign to save a million cats in five years.
Debby MacDonald is the Chief Cruelty Investigator and Detroit Shelter Director for the Michigan Humane Society. She has been with MHS for 24 years and has been a cruelty investigator for 20 years. Qualified as an expert witness in dog-fighting investigations, she is currently an instructor for Code 3 Associates/Colorado State’s Cruelty Investigations Academy and has taught throughout the US.
Melissa Miller is Director of Detroit Animal Care and Control. She is a former Shelter Operations Manager and sheltering consultant for the Humane Society of the United States Animal Rescue Team, as well as co-founder of Dog Aide, a non-profit devoted to shelter intervention and owner retention. Melissa holds Certified Behavior Consultant Canine (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) certifications.
Becky Neal is currently the President of the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, sits on the Small Animal Companion Board, MI-SART Board, and active as a legislative representative for MAACO. Becky has been employed by Eaton County Animal Control as an ACO for the past 20 years. She is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she attended the Horse Management program. Becky was previously employed at a veterinary clinic as an exam room technician for 5 years prior to becoming an ACO. She lives on the family farm where she raises Hereford cattle with her husband and two boys.
Dr. Diana Newman has been involved in animal welfare for many years. Although her work situations have varied, her dedication to animals has remained the same. Dr. Newman practiced dental hygiene, served as assistant director of a low cost OB/GYN and Pediatric clinic, and for the last 15 years of her career worked at Western Michigan University as a program manager for grants from the State of Michigan and the National Science Foundation. After retirement, she became the Director of the Barry County Animal Shelter where she developed a comprehensive TNR program for the County and transformed the shelter’s performance. Dr. Newman lives in Battle Creek, MI with her husband, two dogs and four cats, and depending on the time of year, usually several bottle baby kittens and fosters. Her two children, their spouses and five grandchildren live near-by and are always in awe of the “zoo” as they call it.
Matthew Pepper joined the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) as its President and CEO in August 2014. He came to MHS with more than 15 years of animal welfare experience including leadership roles in animal care and control in New Mexico, Tennessee, and Louisiana. He began his career in Michigan working both with Kent County Animal Control and the Humane Society of West Michigan. He holds a B.S. in wildlife biology from Grand Valley State University and has taught law enforcement and animal care and control professionals in four states – primarily on complex animal cruelty investigations and related topics.
Courtney Protz-Sanders began her career in animal welfare in 2000 at the Dumb Friends League, the largest open admission animal shelter in the Rocky Mountains. With more than 16 years of experience in animal welfare, Protz-Sanders has led or participated in numerous projects, coalitions and organizations, including the committee to reform Detroit Animal Control, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance Rescue Certification Task Force and the National Disaster Animal Response Team. From wildfires to hurricanes, and from animal hoarding to dog fighting, Protz-Sanders is skilled in triage and emergency sheltering for animals. In 2014, Protz-Sanders was a professional speaker at the largest international animal welfare conference, the HSUS Expo. Protz-Sanders was also a presenter at three past Michigan No Kill conferences. In 2005, Protz-Sanders founded Paws for Life Rescue, a non-profit, foster-based, all-breed rescue for dogs and cats. She continues today as Board president and executive director. Protz-Sanders also currently serves as a founding member, Board trustee and spokesperson for Michigan’s Political Action Committee for Animals (Mi-PACA). In 2014, Protz-Sanders helped develop and launch Make Michigan Next, a coalition of advocates working to end breed discrimination in Michigan, and also served as the rally emcee at the state Capitol in September of that year.
Lisa Rabine is currently a Canine Trainer and Administrative Assistant for Macomb County Animal Control and Vice President on the Board and Lead Program Facilitator for Teacher’s Pet: Dogs and Kids Learning Together. She has been with Teacher’s Pet ever since she started training dogs 10 years ago and started volunteering for MCAC while running a Teacher’s Pet Program at the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center. She volunteered for MCAC for five years before being hired three years ago and has been heavily involved in reforming the shelter under Chief Randazzo. One of the programs she implemented at MCAC is the Dogs Play For Life canine play group program. Since starting this program over a year ago, there has been a major difference in the dogs’ behavior in the shelter. MCAC has shared this program with several other Michigan shelters and Lisa is very excited to keep sharing!
Jeff Randazzo currently serves as the Chief Animal Control officer for Macomb County. He is the recipient of the 2014 Michigan Pet Fund Alliance Award for Innovations & Best Practices – Creating Transformational Change. Jeff attended Michigan State University where he studied Equine Science & Livestock Management which prepared him for his employment with the City of Detroit as a horse trainer and instructor for the Detroit Mounted Police. For the last decade Jeff’s professional career has concentrated in various aspects of welfare for homeless cats and dogs from animal evaluator, adoption counselor, to veterinary and surgical assistant, to animal control for both municipal and not for profits shelters. Jeff takes a “problem solving” approach to animal control. Under his direction Macomb was the first in the state to institute higher professional standards for Animal Control Officers; a shelter, neuter, release program for community cats and dog play groups.
Deborah Schutt is chair and one of the founders of the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance. She is an urban planner by profession. After 21 years working for the public sector, she established her own consulting firm 19 years ago, working out of her home, which allowed her to volunteer as a foster parent for puppies. As she became more familiar and more involved with animal welfare, Deborah became acutely aware of the lack of planning, collaboration and use of systematic approaches, which were successfully used in other areas of her profession, to solve and address problems and issues in animal welfare. She became convinced that animal homelessness in Michigan could be solved, including saving the more than 100,000 animals annually euthanized in shelters, if a different approach was taken. Since the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance has been providing information on best practices and supporting advocacy, Michigan shelters have reduced the number of animals euthanized annually in shelters to 37,000.
Pamela Sordyl started advocating for animals in 2007 when she learned about puppy mills and factory farming. It didn’t take her long to find an active local group, like Southeast Michigan Animal Rights Team (S.M.A.R.T), to start protesting Petland, the world’s largest puppy retailer. Protesting turned into leading public education campaigns and the formation of Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan. Last year, she worked to form a coalition called Michigan Friends of Companion Animals to focus on pending state legislation (HB 4898), the Large-scale Commercial Dog Breeder Act and local ordinances that would prohibit the retail sale of dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, long lived birds and large reptiles. It is her hope that one day animal exploitation will be only found in history books.
Karen Sparapani is the Executive Director of Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC). MADACC is the sole animal control provider for the 19 municipalities of Milwaukee County taking in 11,000 animals per year. She is a member of the Milwaukee Animal Cruelty Task Force, the Milwaukee County Hoarding Task Force, and is part of a coalition of progressive Wisconsin shelter leaders who recently worked to successfully make important and lifesaving changes to Wisconsin State Statute 173. She recently appeared in a Discovery Channel special discussing the dangers of the private ownership of exotic animals and has presented extensively on evolving animal control practices.
Katelin Thomas is the owner of K9 Turbo Training, a company based in Metro Detroit that assists owners, rescues, and shelters with their more “difficult” dogs. Katelin offers in-home behavior modification and training for owned animals, as well as volunteer and staff training to rescues and shelters in order to ensure that adoptable dogs get only the best and most up-to-date training available. Katelin is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants as well as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Katelin shares her home with her lab/shepherd, Turbo and bully breed mix, Denver.
Paul Wallace took the reins as Director of Genesee County Animal Control in January 2015 with his work cut out for him. The good news was the county had recently approve a millage to support the shelter. The challenging news was the shelter was the subject of public controversy with high kill rates, locked doors, shut out volunteers and what some felt were secretive operations. Paul’s three decades of law enforcement experience for Genesee County and the city of Clio as – patrolmen, detective, and commander – provided many of the skill sets needed for the challenge. As a respected community leader with long-standing associations and respect, political confidence increased delivering the support needed to institute many of the transformations at the municipal shelter. Paul will be the first to tell you there is still a lot to be done. Paul’s love of animals began during his childhood growing up across the street from a farm that provided him the hands-on opportunities of caring for horses, cows, chickens, etc., and of course having his own furry pals through-out the years.
Amy Warner has found that her BBA in Marketing and Business Management has been a valuable tool in effectively raising funds and educating the public in responsible pet ownership. Through her involvement with numerous rescues and organizations over the years, she has been instrumental in re-homing efforts and animal care and welfare. She currently is the Volunteer Coordinator for Genesee County Animal Control and is very excited about coming in at a time when the future of Animal Control is being shaped to the benefit of the public, the animals, the volunteers and the staff. Ask Amy about her travels with Sully.
Amy Wettlaufer – In her role as Program Manager with All About Animals Rescue, Amy Wettlaufer manages an active Community Cats program, which includes partnerships with the Macomb County Animal Shelter and the City of Warren. Before joining All About Animals Rescue in 2013, Amy managed community outreach, adoption and low-cost spay/neuter programs for the Michigan Animal Rescue League in Pontiac. She has a life-long affection for animals and a commitment to a life of service in animal welfare. Amy happily shares her home with her two elderbulls, Emma and Jake, but also regularly welcomes feline and canine fosters.
Kate Wilson has a BS from Michigan State University that is focused on applied animal behavior and neurobiology. She has had a lifelong passion of observing and studying animal behavior. Kate is the trainer at the Creature Conservancy, where she works to improve the lives of exotic animals and provide less stressful vetting and handling. Kate is also the trainer at Cascades Humane Society, where she works to train and enrich the shelter dogs that come to the shelter. Previously she worked as an educator in math and zoology and traveled around the world observing animals in their natural environments.
Jaime Wolfe is the Co-Founder of NBS Animal Rescue, a Five Star Certified Rescue. She is also the Certification Coordinator for the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance’s Rescue Certification Program that was launched in 2012. Jaime devotes her time and energy to NBS Animal Rescue finding shelter animals who are high risk, fostering, screening adopters, and doing home visits. Her heart is with senior dogs and those needing extra medical help.
Jane Wolff has a background in Sociology from the University of Michigan. As a dog guardian all her life, she started educating herself and working with them professionally about 3 years ago. She began as a volunteer at Cascades Human Society providing training and enrichment and transitioned to a staffing position in animal care. Jane became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer this spring and is enrolled in the Academy for Dog Trainers. Jane became aware of the need for dog training by rescue organizations and shelters in rehoming dogs in their care and with her passion to help she has focused her skills in this area.