Everyone involved in Petaluma PET Pals is a volunteer - including the core team. These are the people who make life-saving their priority, along with their regular jobs and families, and dedicate much of their time to making things happen for PET Pals.
The Core Team
Shannon Frieberg - President and Cat Adoption Coordinator
Teena Merlan, RVT - Marketing & Fundraising Administrator
Marie Tschann - Treasurer
I started out as a kitten foster for Pet Pals in July of 2014 and just adore helping these animals. In April 2015, I decided to take on more responsibility in the organization and help the people behind the scenes. I only just started in April, but I have big plans for Pet Pals and am thankful for the caring, wonderful people who foster, share, donate, and otherwise make Pet Pals such a success.
My incredible husband and I live in Marin County with our 3 cats, Selina Kyle, Iroh, and Tobi (pictured), plus a varying number of foster kittens and the occassional foster dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind. We have fostered dozens of kittens and more than half a dozen dogs, and we love it. I am excited to be part of the Pet Pals team and am looking forward to giving back to the animals who give so much to us.
Candy Otani - Assistant to President
My passion for animal welfare has been lifelong, but I took a more active role improving the lives of homeless animals by volunteering at a small municipal animal shelter in January of 2011. Once I started, I got to know all the animals and became passionate about finding them homes. Without hesitation, I jumped feet first into working with mobile adoptions, the spay and neuter clinic, and even formed and led a committee to help organize the volunteers. It was a whirlwind of activity, and if I was not at my full-time paying job, I was at the shelter. That same summer, I also took home my first litter of foster kittens, and it turned out they had some complicated medical issues. The medical staff at the shelter taught me how to take care of the kittens, and when they were all adopted out a few months later healthy and happy, I knew this is what I wanted to do. I took on more and more of the vulnerable cases and consequently learned a great deal about kitten and cat care. I eventually helped organize the foster program and focused my fostering to caring for neonate kittens that needed round-the-clock specialized care. Because of these babies, another major shift in my animal welfare story took place.
I found out about Pet Pals in 2004 when a feral cat brought her babies to eat in our back yard! I never knew there were feral cats until then! Did not know what to do. Got information, by chance, from Petaluma Pet Pals outreach in front of a pet store that used to be next to K-mart. I met Candy and Judy Reynolds and was recruited to loan out traps and pay the bills. I have helped with the rummage sales since then.
I am vegetarian and love all animals. I want to improve all animals' lives and stop the killing and harming of animals, including farm animals, laboratory animals, and hunted animals. They all deserve to live a life free of human cruelty. I don't buy anything leather or wool. I have always lived with and loved cats, and have several adorable cats at home, at our work and feral cats in our backyard.
I got involved with Pet Pals in 1998. I answered an ad in the local newspaper from the founding member and former executive director, Judy Reynolds, to form a group of animals loves to make a difference in the lives of companion animals and I eventually became the president. Although Petaluma Pet Pals was helping the animal shelter with fundraising and adoption events, we are a separate entity.
What motivates me is seeing time after time, the many people across the country, and even the world, maneuvering their limited resources in order to save an animal. Although I've been retired from the US Postal Service for two years, I'm busier now than ever before. my parents are elderly and although they have a caregiver, I do check up on them twice a day. Shannon keeps me busy also by making sure I have foster kitties. I love fostering because of the reward it offers of seeing my fosters go off to their loving-forever homes. You can't beat that feeling.
Candy, the former President of PETaluma PET Pals, and I worked together A LOT at the shelter. When she saw me strike out on my own, she saw her opportunity to invite me to PET Pals. Candy and the Board of Pet Pals was looking to energize the organization, and I had energy to spare! If I agreed to take on the directorship, I could also resurrect the rescue program. AND WE DID! From Fall of 2014, we recruited foster parents and volunteers and started pulling at risk neonate kittens, cats and dogs from shelters all over California and as well as community assistance animals locally. We also continue to promote and improve the spay and neuter assistance program. I couldn't be prouder and more content working with this wonderful group of volunteers and helping lead PETaluma PET Pals into the future.
I live in Petaluma with my three extra special, totally spoiled cats, PJ, Peetie and Sutey. I took another giant leap into Pet Pals leaving my now 9-5 job in the fall of 2017 to setup and manage our new GREAT STUFF THRIFT STORE! I am having tons of fun, and as usual, I am able to bring in my bottle babies kittens to the store so that I can feed them every two hours. There is not a person in my life or anyone I meet, who I haven't tried to recruit to foster or volunteer or adopt, so beware!
Melissa Farley Law - Dog Adoption Coordinator and Secretary
I joined Pet Pals in January 2015, and in four months, we have already rescued 40 dogs compared to 1 dog in 2014. We currently have 14 dog fosters and are looking to expand as we grow.
I am a Project Manager for a construction firm in the North Bay. I am married to a wonderful, supportive man named Graham who is a photographer and small business owner. Together we have four kids and a variety of animal we call, “the farm.” My first dog was a rescue dog named Cabo. He was a parvo survivor pup and to this day, one of the best dogs ever. Cabo was my inspiration when I first got in to fostering back in March of 2011. A dog that reminded me of him was out of time at the shelter, so I connected with a rescue and that’s how it all started. I have fostered for Contra Costa Humane, Noah’s Bark North, Nor Cal Lab Rescue and Good Newz Pittie pups. I am currently on my 78th foster dog. I still cry every time I give one up, but then look forward to my next save. Every dog I have had was special in their own way and all are in great homes.