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 founded Pet Rush Inn - a pet hotel with a boarding and day care facility - and now owns and operates Double Dog Dare Ya in Burbank, California.
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: Kelley Lind
Growing up on a farm, Kelley begged for a dog, but had to be satisfied domesticating barn cats. When she graduated from college and lived on her own, she finally got to fulfill her dream of "dog mom" with her loving canine companion Sandy. When she had to say goodbye to Sandy after their long life together, she felt a void in her life. When Operation Adopt opened in 2015, 1/2 block away from her, she was one of the first adopters...and the rest is history. An adopter turned foster turned volunteer, Kelley now uses her under-used and overly-excessive education to promote our animals on our social media platforms. Her day job as a TV Development Executive prepared her to market our animals in their best light. Kelley says she is grateful to volunteer for Operation Adopt because it gives her the opportunity to serve a purpose for animals.
Director: Laurie Newton, RN
In addition to serving on the board of directors, Laurie is also the first point of contact for Operation Adopt future adopters in her role as Adoption Coordinator. As if that weren't enough, Laurie is also a nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – where she has been delivering compassionate care for 33 years. She is a Certified Pediatric Nurse and cares for patients of all ages. In 2017, Laurie was recognized with the DAISY Award given to exceptional nurses commended by leadership and peers for their compassionate care at the bedside of sick and injured children. Over the years, Laurie has learned that talking about and showing photos of her dogs and dogs and cats for adoption to her patients has relaxed them and put a smile on their faces. She tells people hat volunteering at Operation Adopt lets her combine her love of animals with her love of caring for people.
Director: Dr. Sergio Rios, MVZ (médico veterinario zootecnista)
Dr. Rios received his veterinary degree from the University of Guadalajara in 1985 while also playing soccer for the University. Unlike traditional veterinary schools in the United States, the study of veterinary medicine in Mexico equips students to practice in a broad range, covering practically every species. Dr. Rios began his practice focused on farm animals and especially enjoyed working with horses.
Shortly after he relocated to Southern California in 1989, he began helping companion animals in a supervisory position at Los Angeles Animal Services, one of the largest animal control agencies in the world. During his nearly 30 years of service, he not only was credited with helping to increase adoptions from less than 30% to a nearly 95% adoption rate through his out of the box ideas, but he was also one of the most respected supervisors in the department – both by staff and volunteers. Dr. Rios was recognized on many occasions by the Los Angeles City Council and multiple neighborhood groups for the compassion he displayed for both animals and people.
During his tenure with Los Angeles Animal Services and because of his experience with large animals, Dr. Rios was part of the D.A.R.T. team (Department Air Rescue Team) who specialized in emergency rescues during disasters such as fires and earthquakes and when animals were in precarious situations.
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.