Katie NelsonPosition: Executive Director
I grew up around horses and cattle so they’re the four-legged creatures I’ve always been most comfortable with. We also had big dogs – Rottweilers, Malamutes, Labs. The bigger the animal, the more comfortable I am, but, I’m growing more familiar with the smaller breeds -- the Yorkies, the Chihuahuas -- they all have their own unique personalities.
My husband and I have a pit bull and two border collies at home, so when a club-footed border collie named Jack come through the shelter, my heart went out to him. Our team was so happy when he was adopted by an amazing family. I also have a soft spot for when pitty’s come through our shelter. They can be misunderstood or overlooked, but they are such amazing dogs.
I’m extremely proud of the work we do at BAHS. We are an organization filled with amazing animal advocates who are not only passionate, but extremely creative when it comes to helping our community dogs and cats arrive at forever homes. All credit goes to the village it takes to help our animals in need – board members, staff, volunteers and donors alike. It truly does take a village!
Shoshana MostollerPosition: Co-Executive Director
I was on the BAHS board before joining the staff. Every day brings new challenges and new successes, and I am proud to be a part of the work that we do.
It is hard not to be touched by the dogs and cats that pass through our doors. My two dogs, Milo and Daisy, are such an important part of my family and I want each and every one of the animals at BAHS to find that kind of love and security. I am thankful to the staff and volunteers who work so hard to improve the lives of the animals that pass through our doors.
Dean SalvatorePosition: Business Manager
Dean Salvatore had the perfect pedigree to become BAHS’s part-time business manager. Not only was he great with numbers, but he was an animal lover, to boot.
Dean, who served as the shelter’s auditor for several years, fit right in with the pack. “I was looking for something to do part time,” he said, “and this was perfect. It’s very relaxing when you have animals around to pet and hang out with.”
The proud owner of two cats and miniature dachshund, Dean favorite things to do include gardening and spending time with his fiancé, Sherry Favre, and his daughters Holly, 27, and Abby, 24. He lives on five, quiet acres outside Freeburg, where he grows everything from tomatoes and peppers to loofah sponges.
BAHS is thrilled to welcome him aboard!
Melissa JanesPosition: Social Media Coordinator & Adoption Counselor
I have been fortunate to learn many jobs since I began working at BAHS in August of 2011. Currently, my focus is on animal care, photography, and social media.
I have always had a passion for charitable work with an emphasis on the most vulnerable in the community. No one is more vulnerable than our four-legged friends, and I'm privileged to be able to return the love they so selflessly give us.
Outside of my work here, I volunteer with CARES, another animal-focused non-profit, and spend time with my goofy English Bulldog, Lenore.
Jennifer WaeltzPosition: Medical Coordinator
My favorite part of the job is socializing with the animals and seeing them go from being afraid to coming out of their shells and opening up. You just have to spend time with them and show them you’re not going to hurt them. I fostered a puppy once. The poor thing was so scared of everybody – even me at first. Then he got very attached to me. After about two weeks, a lady adopted him. When he came back to visit, he didn’t even recognize me. He barked at me! But that’s OK ‘cause he got a good home.
Tammy AllenPosition: Veterinary Technician
Veterinary technician Tammy Allen is the proud mother of two German Shepherds, three cats and a two-legged son named Brandon. Aside from working part time for BAHS, she also serves as a vet tech at AnRus Veterinary Clinic in Freeburg and the Four Hearts Foundation in O’Fallon.
“I started out majoring in nursing,” she said, “but then I realized I like animals better than sick people. My third year of nurse’s training, I got accepted into Jefferson College’s vet tech program, so I transferred there.”
The shelter is so glad she did. Keenly intelligent with a calm demeanor, Tammy’s many responsibilities include assisting in surgeries, as well as working closely with the shelter’s medical coordinator.
“I really enjoy working here,” she said. “I find medicine intriguing and I love working with the animals. It’s a job where you can make a difference.”
Amanda LalichPosition: Adoption Counselor and Foster Coordinator
Adoption counselor Amanda Lalich grew up on a Funny Farm.
“I begged my mom for a dog when I was in second grade,” she remembered. “When we moved out of the city to the country, our house came with four goats and all kinds of cats. It wasn’t really a farm – but we called it the Funny Farm.”
There is nothing funny about Amanda’s dedication to animals.
“My cat growing up was from a feral litter so I know firsthand the importance of spaying and neutering,” she said. “I also know how important it is to find dogs and cats loving homes.”
Aside from her role as an adoption counselor, Amanda, who has five pets of her own, also serves as the shelter’s foster coordinator.
“Ultimately, fostering helps shelters save more lives,” she said, proudly. “We only have limited space here – just so many kennels and so much room in the Kitty Corner. With that being said, we can help more animals if people take them into their homes.”
Because of their immature immune systems, kittens and puppies are placed in foster homes the first several weeks of their lives. Older and special needs animals also benefit from a foster environment, and temporary foster homes can give shelter pets a much needed break from the stress of shelter life.
“I always said I wanted to be a Zookeeper,” she said and laughed. “Well my dream has come full circle.”
Dawn BlackwellPosition: Shelter Manager
Shelter manager Dawn Blackwell has a shadow. A bulldog mix who looks more like a bullfrog, Wilma waddles behind the front desk giving “hugs” and melting hearts.
“It was kind of hard to resist her,” admitted Dawn, who adopted the snorting 2-year-old after starting work at the shelter last year.
Truth be told, Dawn finds most animals irresistible. “I was raised at the end of a dead-end street where people dumped off their unwanted cats and dogs. I found all of them homes after I vetted them. I guess that’s where my career in rescue began.”
These days, Dawn fosters puppies, kittens and special needs animals for BAHS and Gateway Pet Guardians, when she’s not rolling up her sleeves to manage the shelter.
Her husband, Ryan, and daughter, Maddie, 15, support her in her efforts.
“I won’t tell you how many pets I have,” she said and smiled, “but it’s a lot. It just kind of came natural, my love of animals. I like big, square heads.”
She also likes the saying, “Adopt a Pit. Don’t Listen to the Bull.”
Wilma likes that saying too.
“You can find just about any animal you’re looking for in a shelter. Big or small. And some of the biggest dogs can be some of the sweetest ones. I tell people not to pay attention to breeds. Pay attention to personalities.”
Kelly TurnerPosition: Volunteer Coordinator
Volunteer coordinator Kelly Turner says she has found her niche.
“I really enjoy what I do,” said Kelly, a former public information specialist. “There’s never a dull moment when you work with people and animals.”
Some volunteers enjoy walking dogs and playing with cats, while others prefer cleaning and doing laundry. “We need volunteers to help with yard work, maintenance work, you name it. Not every job is glamorous but they are all really important.”
Each volunteer brings his own unique talents to the table. But loving animals is something everyone has in common.
At the moment, Kelly, who also mans the shelter’s front desk, is mother to Suzy, a 13-year-old dachshund and FooFoo, a 13-year-cat.
“I guess you could say 13 is my lucky number,” she said and laughed.
Married with four bonus kids and 11 grandchildren, Kelly also enjoys cuddling with Macy, a boxer-mix puppy she adopted after starting work at BAHS.
“My brother told me, ‘You can’t save them all,’” she said. “I know we’re full up at our house. But a great part of my job is seeing animals go to other good homes. There’s nothing better than watching a dog or cat ‘pick’ their people.”