Rocio Bellido, DVM – Kansas City Pet Project
Dr. Bellido obtained her DVM after graduating from San Marcos University, Lima- Peru. She spent a few years in private practice before moving to the US. Following her passion for homeless animals she became licensed as a veterinarian n the US through the ECFVG-AVMA certification. Her passion as a shelter veterinarian are surgery and forensics. She is the regional Paw Project Director for Kansas City. Dr. Bellido has been working as a Shelter Veterinarian since 2014.
Julie Brinker, DVM, MS – Humane Society of Missouri
Dr. Brinker received her DVM from the University of Missouri, her MS in veterinary medicine (emphasis in veterinary forensic sciences) from the University of Florida, and a graduate certificate in shelter medicine, also from the University of Florida. She is currently a staff veterinarian at the Humane Society of Missouri’s adoption centers, where she is one of the veterinarians who supervises MU students in an elective shelter medicine clinical rotation. In addition to that, she is a teaching assistant for 3 classes in the University of Florida’s veterinary forensic sciences online graduate program. She has over 15 years’ experience with forensic veterinary medicine and providing veterinary care to animals in shelters. She has participated in the investigation and prosecution of hundreds of animal cruelty cases and has co-authored a chapter in a recently published veterinary forensics textbook. Dr. Brinker has been named “Veterinarian of the Year” by the Missouri Animal Control Association, and received an “Award for Distinguished Service” from the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri for her work with the over 500 dogs confiscated in the largest dog fighting raid in North America to date.
Amie Burling, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, DABVP – University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine
Amie Burling’s shelter medicine journey started her first week at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine when she adopted Panda, a behavior-challenged border collie, from a local shelter. Since then, Burling and Panda have moved together across five states, and Burling has gained experience in general practice, high-volume spay/neuter and shelter medicine.
She completed a residency at the University of Florida’s Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, which involved intensive training in the medical, behavioral and husbandry needs of animals in shelters around the country.
Now, Burling and Panda are thrilled to be home in Columbia with the opportunity to give back to MU and the community. Burling is also completing a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in epidemiology, and she is pursuing board certification in the shelter medicine practice specialty of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Her professional interests include infectious disease prevention, behavioral welfare, public health and increasing the speed of adoption for shelter animals.
Christine Calder, DVM, DACVB – Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Christine Calder is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Fear Free Speaker. She graduated veterinary school from Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine and after 15 years of general practiced completed a residency with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in 2016. Her interests include animal welfare, feline behavior, shelter medicine, and the education of veterinary students on all things behavior. Currently, she lives in Starkville, MS on a small farm of 37 chickens, 3 turkeys, 3 guinea hens, 12 goats, and 4 cows.
Mindi Callison – Bailing Out Benji
Mindi Callison is the Founder and Executive Director at Bailing Out
Benji, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on grassroots
effort to create change for the puppy mill dogs. While in college, Mindi fell in love with a pet store puppy and after much persuasion from the store and the offer of a credit card, she brought home a puppy. A few weeks later, Mindi learned the truth- that she had supported the puppy mill industry with her purchase. At 21 years old, Mindi started her online blog “Bailing Out Benji” where she researched and wrote articles about the puppy mill industry. After hearing about a local pet store that was selling puppies, Mindi began ongoing protests at pet stores in her hometown of Ames, Iowa and inspired advocates from all over the country to do the same. In the past few years after being featured in a puppy mill documentary and several books, Mindi’s Iowa based organization has grown into having volunteer teams across the country. Those teams are working hard to educate about the puppy mill industry and advocate for the mill dogs. In the last 8 years Mindi has been acknowledged across the country for her work by being presented with many prestigious awards including: Outstanding Young Iowan, Iowa Adult Citizen of Character, Advocate We Love, and the 2019 Person to Watch.
Dogs Playing For Life
Dogs Playing for Life is a program rooted in the notion that a dog’s natural instinct is to PLAY. The desire to play does not have to betaught to or learned by most canines. Playing is a dog’s most natural form of positive interaction and communication with both humans and fellow canines. A dog at play provides the best opportunity to peer inside the canine soul and explore who the dog really is. DPFL is an innovative training program that was founded by professional trainer Aimee Sadler. The Program demonstrates both the practical efficiencies of play groups for the rescue organization, as well as the emotional and behavioral benefits for the animals. The curriculum, taught by Sadler and a visiting DPFL Team, usually involves multiple days of on-site training for shelter staff and volunteers, including a classroom presentation for participants, the demonstration of safe-handling techniques, and the fundamentals of successful play group experiences for all involved. Safety protocols for both people and animals are emphasized to ensure that play groups bring out the best in shelter dogs, with the least possible risk of injury or the spread of infection. The DPFL staff also provides post-visit consultation when needed to monitor progress, answer staff questions, and address implementation challenges.
Antonia Gardner, DVM – Southwest Florida Wildlife Center
Dr. Antonia Gardner graduated with her veterinary degree from the University of Florida in 2004, and completed a small animal/ exotic animal internship at Florida Veterinary Specialists and North Bay Animal Hospital, both located in Tampa. After completing her education and veterinary internship, Dr. Gardner moved to southeast Florida and was introduced to the SFWC, becoming first a part-time employee, then moving to full-time employment in 2007. In addition to her veterinary responsibilities, Dr. Gardner also was responsible for updating and organizing the SFWC’s veterinary extern and undergraduate intern programs.
In 2014, Dr. Gardner was promoted to the position of Medical Director. In this role, Dr. Gardner oversees SFWC clinic operations, manages veterinary and animal care staff, and directs the rotational internship program. Dr. Gardner’s work includes integrating research on wildlife diseases into her clinical work, improving standard operating procedures, and enhancing all the educational programs at the SFWC.
Dr. Gardner first presented at the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians conference in 2004, where she was awarded top honors in the Student Manuscript Competition for her work on radiographic evaluation of cardiac size in flying foxes. She has since presented twice at the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians/American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians conference, the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitators conference, and the International Wildlife Rehabilitators conference. In addition, Dr. Gardner has been published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, “Radiographic Evaluation of Cardiac Size in Flying Fox Species.” She authored a chapter on Virginia opossums in a comprehensive wildlife veterinary textbook, publication pending. Additionally, Dr. Gardner has created several educational presentations for SFWC staff, volunteers, and interns, and is a courtesy lecturer at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She also lectures at veterinary schools throughout the country for the HSVMA.
Amanda Good – Humane Society of the United States
Amanda Good works to advance animal protection legislation and expand our humane network. She has nearly two decades of experience in campaign and policy work, taking on factory farming, puppy mills, and captive hunting. Amanda holds a master’s degree in business administration and bachelor’s degree in political science. She has been the state director of the Humane Society of the United States since 2012.
Hilary Hager – Humane Society of the United States
Hilary Hager is the Senior Director of Volunteer Engagement at The Humane Society of the United States. Before joining The HSUS in 2011, she spent 11 years managing volunteers and other programs for two shelters in Washington state. She is on the Board of the Washington State Federation and has a long history of saying yes when she’s asked to help animals, from serving on the board of a chimpanzee sanctuary, to fostering, to transporting animals from Puerto Rico to WA. She is a runner to wear out her high energy dog, and has recently taken up ice hockey, which does doesn’t necessarily meet the criteria of “self-care.”
Pamela Hill – That Cat Girl Consulting
This first thing you need to know about Pam is that she wants to live in a world full of cats that are happy, healthy and homed. In this world, these cats are cared for by patient, well-informed humans, who, when they encounter a cat problem, do exactly what she tells them to do and absolutely nothing else! It’s also a world in which she can eat as much chocolate, drink as much wine and sleep as many hours as she wants, without ever gaining a single pound…
A cat behaviorist with 20 years of experience, Pam has worked with Purina Petcare Company, Hillside Animal Hospital, the Michigan Humane Society, the Atlanta Humane Society, Broward County Humane Society and many local animal shelters in and around the St Louis area. She currently serves as cat behavior advisor to the St Louis Petlovers Coalition and Chair of the Advisory Board to St Louis County Animal Care and Control. She has conducted many shelter staff and volunteer trainings and her educational lectures have been featured at the Great Lakes Animal Welfare Conference and the Southeast Animal Alliance.
When she’s not helping animal shelters improve their cat programs, or providing one-on-one counseling to frustrated cat owners, you can find her Netflixing, reading in a quiet corner or working on her website, thatcatgirl.com.
Steve Kaufman, CAWA – PetSmart Charities
Steve Kaufman has provided leadership and guidance in animal sheltering for over 25 years. With hands-on experience in operating both large and small shelters, he understands the difficult issues that face non-profit and government animal agencies. He has earned a reputation in the industry as a coalition builder and motivational public speaker. As the Senior Manager of Adoption Initiatives with PetSmart Charities, he has a national view of the challenges and achievements in animal welfare and uses this visibility to create innovative and collaborative partnerships. Steve currently oversees the PetSmart Charities National Pet Adoption Program and fosters relationships with rescues and animal shelters across the country.
Casey Kleekamp – Nestle Purina
Casey Kleekamp is a Marketing Manager, Pet Welfare Strategy and Programs at Nestle Purina. She has been with Nestle Purina for seven years, working in many different functions including Shopper Marketing, Portfolio Development and Category Leadership. In these roles she leveraged consumer insights and key partnerships to create engaging pet owner experiences. She is a passionate animal lover and long-time animal welfare advocate, both in her professional and personal life. She is a founding member of the Humane Society of Missouri’s Women’s Leadership Council and has served on the Steering Committee since 2013. She has also volunteered at several other animal welfare organizations in the St. Louis area over the past 20 years.
Anne Marie McPartlin, CVT – Rural Area Veterinary Services
Anne Marie McPartlin is a program coordinator and certified veterinary technician with Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS). After many years working in referral and teaching hospitals, she discovered RAVS as a volunteer in 2010. In 2015, Anne Marie joined RAVS full time where she currently works in the field and as the volunteer coordinator.
Christi Metropole – Stray Cat Alliance
When Christi Metropole encountered a stray and needy kitten in 1999, she was appalled to learn that little to no resources existed to help her, her cat, and thousands like them. As a result, she founded Stray Cat Alliance and soon, feral and free-roaming cats had found a formidable ally. Under Christi’s unwavering leadership, hundreds of volunteers and scores of donors have since united to provide education, human power, and skills to Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) thousands of cats who need help. Under her astute direction, Stray Cat Alliance’s dedicated network helps ensure a safer, healthier quality of life for feral, stray, homeless or community cats—often misunderstood and targeted—that wouldn’t otherwise survive and flourish.Christi is acknowledged as the influential and candid voice for those cats. She is the “go to” source on the subject, whose opinion is sought by other humane proponents needing sound advice. She is frequently requested as a speaker on critical issues related to cat care and protection, laws regarding humane treatment and human health-related concerns. Her experience as a teacher with Los Angeles Unified School District and as a realtor with Keller Williams Realty Brentwood has honed integral skills that help strategically steer the course and further development of Stray Cat Alliance.
Jean Schmidt, DVM – Missouri Department of Agriculture
Dr. Schmidt graduated from Mizzou in 1997. Worked in small animal and emergency practice until 2011 when I took a job at MDA. Worked in the Animal Care Program until June of this year when I became Assistant State Veterinarian. I have two children, 17 and 12. We raise sheep and goats on a small farm near Fayette. We enjoy riding horses and gardening.
Ahne Simonsen, DVM – Rural Area Veterinary Services
Ahne Simonsen is the Field Surgical Director for Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS). She began volunteering with RAVS as a veterinary student in 2003. She continued volunteering with RAVS and other organizations providing access to care field clinics as a veterinarian, while working in LCHQHV S/N clinics and shelters near Boulder, CO. In 2012, Ahne joined RAVS full time, were she currently enjoys working in the field and helping to continually build the program.
Natalie Thomson – Stray Rescue of St. Louis
Natalie has been with Stray Rescue of St. Louis since 2015. She joined the team as the Marketing & Communications Specialist and has recently been promoted to Director of Marketing. Before that she worked in the marketing department of Ashley HomeStore. She graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at Webster University, and went back for her Master’s in Advertising & Marketing. She has 3 rescue dogs at home and enjoys fostering puppies.
Brent Toellner – Best Friends Animal Society
Brent Toellner is the Senior Director, National Programs, for Best Friends Animal Society. In this role Brent oversees all of Best Friends’ regional teams as well as network partner programming and business intelligence. Brent joined Best Friends in 2016 as the Regional Director of the South Central and Great Plains Regions and was responsible for connecting, consulting and collaborating with animal shelters, advocates, spay/neuter groups and rescues across the 11 states in the two regions.
Prior to joining Best Friends, Brent, his wife Michelle and a few others co-founded the Kansas City Pet Project (KCPP). In July 2011, they formed KCPP to bid on the contract to run the Kansas City, Missouri, pound — a place where, for decades, more animals died than were saved. Since KCPP took over in January 2012, adoptions have increased by more than 200%. KCPP has had a live release rate of more than 90% for five consecutive years while remaining an open-admission shelter, making KC Pet Project one of the largest open-admission no kill shelters in the nation. In 2017, KCPP finished the year with a 95% Live Release Rate.
Brent has a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri and a Masters in Marketing Communication from the University of Kansas. Brent lives in Kansas City with his wife Michelle and share their home with both dogs and cats.
Shannon Wells – Kansas City Pet Project
Shannon Wells is a native of Kansas City, MO where she works as the Director of Operations & Animal Behavior for Kansas City Pet Project, a non-profit animal welfare organization operating the City of Kansas City’s municipal animal shelter. Shannon has been with Kansas City Pet Project since its inception, and has helped to grow operations, expanding from a staff of 20 in 2012 to 100 employees at 4 locations today, increasing the scope and quality of services provided to Kansas City’s animals in need along the way. During her tenure there, Shannon has received national recognition from the Petco Foundation and Victoria Stilwell when she was awarded the 2018 Unsung Hero Award for her lifesaving work in the shelter’s Parvo ward, as well as the Petco Foundation’s Paul Jolly Award for Compassion, bestowed to the shelter in 2014. In addition to her leadership experience, Shannon is also a certified professional dog trainer and has utilized her expertise in animal behavior and training to develop and implement behavior programs to ensure adopted pets are successful in their new homes, often despite deficits in their socialization prior to entry at the shelter. Shannon enjoys educating people as much as working directly with animals, and excels at teaching one-on-one, or to a crowd. Shannon is the proud adopter of 3 Kansas City Pet Project alumni pups (Momma, Tug, and Finnegan Cooper) and she believes that ensuring they are happy and healthy is her most important work of all.