Women of Rescue: Getting Things Done Part II

Story by Rebecca West

If you picked up a copy of our July/August issue you already know that we are highlighting the amazing women working in rescue here in southern Arizona and the remarkable things they’ve accomplished over the decades. That work takes many, many forms.In Part I, we covered 14 female founders that have made a difference in our community feeding, housing, protecting, caring for, and basically just rescuing animals in need. While we ran out of space last time, we wanted to include one more to the list in Part II.

Bree Kishman, Founder and CEO of Hope of Deliverance, Inc.

Hope of Deliverance is a foster-based canine rescue active in New York and Arizona. Its focus is on delivering hope to dogs in negative situations.

Described as The Little Engine that Could, the Arizona rescue officially opened its doors January 2020, just before the start of the pandemic. Since then, they’ve managed to save nearly 400 animals by primarily working with understaffed shelters in disadvantaged rural areas.

By supporting those shelters with essential resources, they can, in turn, prevent euthanasia by finding safe homes for at-risk pups. Ultimately, the goal is to keep dogs from ending up in these situations in the first place. Bree and her team advocate for spaying and neutering while offering alternative solutions to pet abandonment, like training resources to help keep dogs in their homes. They are always looking for fosters.

“Our rescue thrives because of our dedicated volunteers. Everyone has a place. There is no room for ego – it’s all about the dogs!”


Money Makes the World Go Round

What a lot of people don’t realize is that most of these groups couldn’t do what they do without the financial support of the public. That’s where ladies like Erin Christiansen and Diana Madaras — both of whom have been on our cover over the past year — come in. Anyone who’s familiar with the chief meteorologist and award-winning painter know that they are devoted to helping pets and wildlife, and that they’ve raised tens of thousands between them.

Philanthropist Bonnie Kay

Bonnie has donated vast sums of money to animal causes and even bought Cody’s Friends a
forklift for their warehouse.  She sat on the board of the Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona (AWASA) for 11 years, which is behind many of Pima County’s free or low-cost spay and neutering options. During her time there, they began hosting free vax and exam clinics twice a year.

There’s also Friends of PACC, plus she’s a supporter of Spay & Neuter Solutions, that established the Bonnie Kay Medical Fund in her honor. And speaking of funding, she’s established a fund through the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona that funds ASAVET, a mobile spay/neuter clinic where she generously helped fund a truck.

A CFSA donor, she’s teamed up with Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare, and she’s also become the president and fundraising director of the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary, which we highlighted in the last issue. And this is just some of her work with animals.

Taking the Time to Make a Difference

And there are plenty of others. Ann Harrington, the founder of The Tucson Dog Magazine, has worked tirelessly over the years to improve the lives of pets throughout the state. During that time, she’s made great strides in educating the public on overcrowded shelters, backyard breeding, puppy mills, and the need to spay and neuter pets.

And there’s Diana Cannon, who, as Chief Development Officer, was instrumental in helping raise money for the new Humane Society of Southern Arizona facility, which opened in 2018. “We are completely locally funded by our community, and they have been extremely generous in helping us raise the funds for this new campus. It is a pleasure to be a part of this momentous occasion for the homeless pets in Southern Arizona,” Diana noted at the time.
Also, in Part I, we touched on photographer Candice Eaton. She’s been holding a photo contest for the last two years to raise money for Friends of PACC. The event runs for a month and has raised over $40k during that two-year timeframe. “The 13 winners of the contest get a photoshoot with me, and then I create a calendar that Friends of PACC can sell to raise more money.”

She also creates free marketing photos for rescues to use for animal adoptions, and she did a pop-up art gallery fundraiser last year for Tucson Rescue Now that brought in about $3,000.

More Dynamic Women in Rescue

And then there are the countless women who work in large municipal or community shelters, like the Humane Society and Pima Animal Care Center and those who work in the sciences behind the scenes.

Monica Dangler, Director at Pima Animal Care Center

Monica began her career working with
animals as a volun-teer therapy dog handler visiting the Cerebral Palsy Center – Pittsburgh and other organi-zations with one of her two Therapy International Dog teams. From 2009 to 2011, she worked for an open-access non-profit shelter in western Pennsylvania, where she planned and implemented fundraising, adoption, and educational events raising more than $200,000.

From there, she headed to PAWS Shelter of Central Texas and served as director, planning and implementing changes that resulted in a 60 percent increase in their adoptions before becoming the volunteer manager for Austin Pets Alive! There, she worked to save animals at risk of euthanasia and even became a kitten foster. Austin is also where she volunteered as a dog walker for shelter animals.

Next, she served as an Executive Leadership Fellow at Pima Animal Care Center for about a year until becoming PACC’s director. “I am amazed by our community every day and am so excited to continue to grow our shelter beyond walls with the community’s help in fostering, adopting, and reuniting pets with their families.” They’ve implemented a number of nationally-recognized, innovative programs like the Pet Support Center, a grant-funded project that provides support and resources to keep pets and families together.

Lisa Royal, Deputy Director of
Pima Animal Care Center

Lisa’s history with Pima County spans an impressive 34 years. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration in 1984, and has since served in an administrative capacity in a variety of county departments.
Since 2021, Lisa has been sharing her extensive management experience as Pima Animal Care Center’s Deputy Director, where she adopted one of the shelter dogs and fosters. She shared that her favorite part of the role is working with an incredible group of people who are striving to make a difference for animals.

A hands-on director, she can frequently be found seeing to it that everyone’s needs are met. From assisting with adoptions, foster caregivers, volunteers, and APS, if she’s needed, she’s there. And, along with most everyone else at PACC, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, saying, “It is not beneath me to jump in and help clean kennels.”

Michele Figueroa, Community Engagement Manager at Pima Animal Care Center
Michele Figueroa is the Community Engagement Manager for PACC in Tucson. She has been with them for 18 years and served in a leadership capacity in almost every area of the shelter, including Animal Control (which is now Animal Protection), the Medical Clinic, Adoptions, and Admissions. Michele has implemented several innovative programs throughout the years, including increasing microchipping efforts in the underserved areas with the greatest need.

In her current role as the Community Engagement Manager, she has developed partnerships with Greatergood, Amazon, and the Community Warehouse through Gap Ministries, who help her carry on the mission of supporting the community when they need it the most. During the last fiscal year, Michele and her team were able to distribute over 1 million meals to dogs and cats in Pima County and assisted more than 30,000 pets.

Incredibly dedicated, back in February 2020, she spent five days in a kennel decked out to resemble a dog house adorned with paper heart cutouts with a dog named Tessa to help get her adopted for Valentine’s Day.

Dr. Lisa Gunter, Ph.D., CBCC-KA,
Companion Animal Scientist

While she is now an Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina University in the Department of Psychology, before beginning her graduate studies, Lisa worked for nearly a decade with dogs in animal shelters and with dogs and their owners.

Over her academic career, she has investigated the breed labeling of shelter dogs, their breed heritage, and how shelter housing, social interactions with other dogs and people, weeklong fostering, temporary stays in foster homes, and short-term outings impact the emotional and physical health of the animals.

Under the mentorship of Clive Wynne, Lisa earned her Master’s degree in 2015 and her Ph.D. in 2018 in the Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology Program at Arizona State University with The Canine Science Collaboratory, which is dedicated to improving the lives of dogs and their people. From 2018-2022, she was the Maddie’s Fund Research Fellow at Arizona State University and managed the Arizona State University/Virginia Tech Maddie’s Nationwide Fostering Study.

The study was conducted in conjunction with PACC to determine the impact weeklong fostering can have on the health and welfare of shelter dogs. Bettering the lives of companion animals and their owners has been the driving force behind her work, including Wagfield Academy — an online training and behavior resource for dog owners — and The Institute for Shelter Dogs.

Women of Rescue Part III

Stay tuned for Part III in our next issue. Even with three segments it’s impossible to shine a light on all of the incredible women who have devoted the better part of their lives to animal welfare. It’s still an honor to have them in our state doing what they do. In the meantime, we look forward to highlighting even more amazing females in the next issue, including some hardworking ladies at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. See you next time!



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