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Helping people means helping their pets

All too often in the animal welfare movement, we forget that pets and people are a package deal. Six activists dedicated to helping pets by helping people will be speaking at the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance’s “Getting to the Goal” Conference in Troy, Mich., on Sept. 4-5, 2014.

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Kim Wolf

Kim Wolf

Kim Wolf

Kim Wolf is the Executive Director of Beyond Breed, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to supporting the bond between people and pets. She runs a grassroots project called “Ruff Riders” that assists pet owners in under-resourced neighborhoods in New York City.

Kim is also employed as a social worker for a program supporting senior citizens and their pets in Manhattan. Her previous experience in animal welfare includes positions at the Pennsylvania SPCA, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, and Animal Farm Foundation.

Kim has also been a social worker for older adults and vulnerable individuals in New York City and Philadelphia, and she spent four years at AARP in Washington, DC doing policy and communications projects. She has presented at numerous animal welfare and aging conferences around the country, and she has received awards for her community outreach and advocacy efforts (including the “Humane Outreach Award” from the Pennsylvania SPCA). Kim lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her six adopted dogs.

Amber Sitko

Amber Sitko

Amber Sitko

By profession, Amber is a computer consultant with Microsoft for over 14 years and has a Masters of Business Administration from Wayne State University. By passion, she founded All About Animals Rescue (AAAR) in 2005.

The organization has gone from primarily adopting out animals, from over 300 a year, to opening a full time spay/neuter clinic in 2008.

The operational budget has grown from $80,000 annually to over $2.5 million currently, reaching more than 60,000 cats and dogs each year with care.

Amber has successfully obtained grants in the tune of over $1 million dollars and developed fund raising and strategic plans for the organization. She has also created Spay Michigan, a statewide toll-free hotline modeled after SPAY/USA, a TNR program that is the first of its kind in Michigan, and has worked with HSUS to make Detroit a Pets for Life mentorship city.

Jennifer Clarkson

Jen Clarkson

Jennifer Clarkson

Jennifer Clarkson is the Board President and Executive Director of Dog Aide in the city of Detroit. Dog Aide’s mission is to educate dog owners, identify needs of communities, supply owners with food and daily care items, provide access and financial help for routine veterinary care, and network with rescues and community organizations to help people get the food and financial assistance they need.

Jen has a background in health care, including long term care and emergency medicine. She earned her BS from CMU in community development and has been actively involved in volunteer work for many years.

She is the proud mother of two young boys as well as Grace (rescue pitbull), Squelch (ornery old rescue kitty), and Rainbow (rescue turtle).

Christina Kotowski

Christina Kotowski

Christina Kotowski

Christina Kotowski became involved in animal rescue in 2010, volunteering and fostering for a number of rescues in Southeast Michigan.

In 2013, she became active in organizing and educating her community to bring awareness to the issue of breed discriminatory legislation in Waterford, MI.

Christina began her involvement in Dog Aide shortly after it was founded in 2012.

She began volunteering in community outreach and assisting answering the Dog Aide Hotline.

Her passion for the people and pets of Detroit led her to take a leadership role as community liaison, managing the distribution of food and supplies to over 40-50 households each month.

Melissa Miller-Szumlinski, CPDT-KA

Melissa Szumlinski

Melissa Szumlinski

After matching dogs with families as an adoption counselor in 2005 and working with shelter dogs on socialization and basic obedience, Melissa realized one of the best ways to keep dogs out of rescues and shelters was to help restore the original spirit that caused dogs to bond with humans in the first place. She began studying dog training and behavior and received her CPDT-KA credentials in spring of 2011.

Along with eight other individuals, she co-founded Dog Aide in the spring of 2012. The organization’s focus is on increasing pet retention and educating pet owners on dog health, behavior, and daily care.

Melissa is contract staff for the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team establishing emergency animal sheltering during natural disasters and large-scale hoarding or neglect criminal cases.

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