Leadership Spotlight: Dena, DPA’s Alumni Director

What does your role within DPA involve? What do you oversee within the organization?
I am the Alumni Director, and the purpose of the Alumni Team is to ensure the health, safety, and overall well-being of our adopted dogs and cats are maintained after they have moved out of our program and into their forever homes. Our responsibility to them does not end at adoption.

My team follows up initially to ensure the pet is scheduled with the adopters’ veterinarian and again several weeks later to ensure a successful transition to their forever home (Angelica Thomas and Kim Boller manage follow-ups for our adopted dogs, and Michele Morneault handles all of our cat follow-ups and issues). We respond via email to common transitional issues and provide training techniques to assist the adopter, and we encourage them to contact one of our professional training partners who provide discounts to our alumni. If the situation is urgent, I contact the adopter via telephone and try to work them through the issue/concern until a trainer is able to meet with them. If the situation is not a good fit, I work with the Foster Team to secure a new or the previous foster parent and get the pet back into our program. Although this can seem disappointing, we have a great track record with second adopters!

What is your professional background?
I am an Environmental Professional and provide due diligence consulting services to lenders, developers, investors, or current property owners. I have worked in this industry for 19 years and have experience in every aspect of due diligence assessments, remediation, and regulatory response. I started my own firm, Eden Environmental Consulting, in June 2012 and have been blessed with amazing clients and interesting projects.

How long have you been involved with the organization?
My husband and I encountered Dallas Pets Alive! at the Fort Worth Untapped Festival in March 2014. We had discussed volunteering with an organization together and love dogs, so it seemed like a great fit. We began volunteering at events in May and expressed interest in joining teams. In July, Leslie Sans approached me about developing the Alumni Team with another volunteer, Leslie Shields. We pulled our first foster, Lady Bug, in August 2014; getting her healthy and adopted remains the best thing my husband and I have accomplished together. By mid-2015, Shields needed to step down, and our team consisted of me and one follow-up volunteer; the Alumni team currently consists of six members and we are looking to add two more volunteers.

What drives you to dedicate your time to DPA?
When humans chose to domesticate dogs and cats, they became our responsibility. We are tasked with not only caring for their well-being but understanding the way their minds work. They are fairly simple creatures (this comment may not pertain to our feline pets), and when we become frustrated by their actions, we must realize that it is us who is ultimately at fault for not communicating in a way they understand. A fault easily corrected to ensure a happy pack. We have too many companion animals without homes in this area. I truly believe if people understood dogs a little better and were provided with the proper information and encouragement, we could mitigate that problem.

On average, how many hours per week do you volunteer?

It varies; 25+ hours at least.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I had to crowd source this last one, because it is not easy to identify a fun fact about yourself…
Sarcasm is my second language, and I can glean gender, stature, and overall health of a person by looking at his/her skeleton.

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