President/Founder: Shelley Rios, Attorney At Law
Shelley's mantra in pretty much everything she faces is "success results from getting up one more time than you're knocked down." Growing up in a small farming town, where she and her brothers were taken out of school to help during harvest time, she learned how to work and work hard. Also instilled in her by some very early mentors was that she could accomplish anything she set her mind to. Shelley began working on "puppy mill legislation" to end the resale of commercially bred animals in pet stores. This legislation is ultimately aimed at stopping the mass breeding and confinement of the parents trapped at the mills and also presents an alternative to the conventional pet store model which is to rehome shelter animals through exposure in retail districts. After successful passage of this legislation in Burbank, Shelley and a group of volunteers set out to test this new model by opening Operation Adopt. In 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Burbank Leader honored Shelley with it's Reader's Choice of Best Attorney for her work in law and animal welfare.
Treasurer: Mark Newton, Attorney At Law
Mark is innately focused. Whether the focus is on his successful career as a business litigator at the L.A. based law firm of Barton, Klugman and Oetting LLP or coaching the pole vault team at Burbank High School, his ability to understand and strategize is a natural gift. Mark and his wife Laurie (a nurse at Children's Hospital LA), their adult children and their dog Summer, have been devoted to The Animal Protectorates since its inception. They have fostered approximately 40 dogs, including a military serviceman's dog who was injured and unable to travel until with the solider until he healed from a surgery, a pregnant shelter dog slated for euthanasia who had a litter of 9 pups, and a shelter dog also slated for euthanasia who ultimately became a therapy dog for veterans. We are fortunate to have Mark's analytical skills (along with his great sense of humor)
Director: Rene Karapedian
As a child, Rene always dreamed of having his own pet store - years later, he became revolutionary in becoming one of the first pet store owners in the country who changed his business model from a pet store selling "puppy mill" puppies to one adopting out orphaned animals. Rene says he made the change because "it was the right thing to do." Rene started out as a dog groomer and realized that he wanted to make a career out of it. Rene now owns Pet Rush Inn - a pet hotel that offers a newly constructed boarding and day care facility along with Rene’s classic grooming services. He continues to advise pet stores on how to make the "humane switch."
Director: Dara Kobashigawa
Dara's passion for animals started with her parents' love of animals. Throughout the years, she has been a staunch financial supporter, regular foster and devoted volunteer for many different rescue organizations throughout Los Angeles. Dara is regularly referred to as the "dog magnet" and cleaning coach at Operation Adopt - TAPS pet adoption center in Burbank, California. Dara brings an enthusiastic can do spirit and we are thrilled to have her guide the organization forward.
Director: Connie Rinicker
Connie throws her heart into everything she does. People and animals always value her genuine compassion and warm demeanor. Connie has fostered many animals with recent amputations and those needing extra special and gentle care. Connie's attention to detail makes her an invaluable part of The Animal Protectorates.