Rescue Staff

Emily Sprong, Executive Director

Emily got an early start in animal welfare: her first volunteer and employment experiences were with vets, kennels, and feral cat organizations. After studying wildlife biology in graduate school and working for wildlife-focused non-profits for many years, the opportunity to apply for the ED position at SAFe crossed her path at just the right time: “It feels like I’ve come full circle and I’m very happy to have returned to my roots.” Emily appreciates the respect and compassion the SAFe Rescue community demonstrates, and her favorite moments are when people and kitties find the perfect match: “I love when someone comes into the rescue and our adoption counselors find them just the right fit. Their ability to listen and connect with both people and cats and to help adopters through transition challenges, makes me very proud of the work we do. (I’m also a sucker for torties).” Not surprisingly, Emily’s fur-family includes a tortie named Tiger Lily, as well as a dog named Zarby. When she’s not at the rescue, you can find Emily spending time with her husband and two daughters, hiking, attending the theater, and driving back and forth between the girls’ practice and rehearsals, of course!

Nichole Abbey, Events and Communications Manager

As the rescue’s go-to staff member for all things event-related, Nichole unites her love of animals with her passion for creating great experiences for guests. “I’m excited to create and execute events to educate and inform the community of the great work we’re doing. Plus, I hope to bring in more donors and volunteers to help continue saving as many kitties as we can!” When she’s not busy event planning, Nichole enjoys reading, walking around the city to discover new places, and playing video games with her cat Blanche snuggled next to her.

Olivia Cass, Intake Coordinator

Olivia has worked with animals her whole life: she started volunteering at the local animal shelter at the age of 11. Having cared for many over the years, Olivia appreciates each species: “I really enjoy learning about different types of animals and how they uniquely experience the world.” When it comes to cats, Olivia’s favorites are the ones with a loud purr! Currently, two cats, Ripley and Link, fill Olivia’s home with purrs. Olivia also cares for pet reptiles including snakes and lizards. When Olivia isn’t helping cats at SAFe or spending time with her animals at home, you can find her with her girlfriend exploring the Pacific Northwest. (Sometimes Ripley, who loves a car ride, joins them too!)

Tina Donaldson, Cat Care Lead

Tina lives by the saying “Animals are such agreeable friends: they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” In return for the unconditional love that animals offer, Tina works tirelessly to help them! Tina got started with animal rescue in response to Hurricane Katrina and has been helping ever since. As she explains, “The animals during that crisis were amazing. I also volunteered with the FELV and FIV positive cats at Best Friends Animal Society… And having had several other rescue cats made me realize that rescues are the BEST.” Tina’s own rescue cat Venus is certainly a very spoiled—and very lucky—kitty! When Tina isn’t busy giving a helping hand to animals, she enjoys travel adventures and hiking with her husband.

Kelsi Eldredge, Donor Relations Specialist

Kelsi has loved animals for as long as she can remember, but it was a recent tragedy that awakened her calling to animal welfare as a career: “When the Camp Fire wiped out my hometown of Paradise, California in 2018, I saw so many humans and their fuzzy family members displaced by the fire. I did everything I could do to help them, from fundraising and passing out gift cards, to crocheting dog sweaters and blankets, to sending animal supplies. Once I started, I had finally found my calling and knew I needed to continue.” Kelsi carries her passion to protect and advocate for animals into every aspect of her role, and she finds that watching shy and scared kitties learn to trust is especially rewarding. Due to allergies in her household, Kelsi can’t have kitties at home, so she cherishes the time she spends with them at work. Her best furry friend is a very cat-like senior Pomeranian named Bruno. (And she hopes to adopt a pair of rats soon!) When she’s not busy at the rescue, Kelsi enjoys hanging out with Bruno and tending to her collection of over 100 houseplants. She also enjoys drawing, painting, making crafts, and volunteering.

Jessica Green, DVM, Veterinarian

For Jessica, working in animal rescue is a return to her roots: her dedication to helping animals is the reason she first entered the medical field. Jessica especially enjoys getting to know different felines and their personalities: “I enjoy meeting each new kitty, learning about them, and trying to make them feel their best!” When she’s not tending to the needs of animals, you can find Jessica cooking, running, hiking, and spending time with her two children. Jessica’s furry family members include three kitties (Diesel, Isabella, and Isis) and an honorary feline: chihuahua Betsy, who is convinced she’s a kitty, too.

Adriana Koessler, Licensed Veterinary Technician

Caring for animals with medical needs is close to Adriana’s heart. As she explains, “All animals deserve love and adequate medical care. I am honored to help them.” Adriana’s commitment to spay/neuter goes way back: for over 13 years, she has volunteered with Isla Holbox Spay Neuter Project to provide free spay and neuter clinics in Mexico. Adriana is thrilled to continue her work with animals here at SAFe: “My greatest passion in life is helping animals. The greatest joy I receive from working with them is to be their voice and to advocate for them.” Adriana has four rescue pets at home: three dogs and a cat named Sims. When she’s not busy caring for animals, you can find Adriana—who loves spending time outdoors—skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and traveling to new places.

Shelley Lawson, Community Engagement Director

Shelley, who works to build community awareness and support for SAFe Rescue’s programs, treasures the opportunity to connect with cats and the people who love them: “Even on the hardest, busiest days, I know I have a chance to make a difference for animals, and that makes it all worthwhile.” Shelley and her husband share their house with a crew of senior cats (including former SAFe kitty Jacob), a hyperactive dog, and a rotating cast of foster cats… Meanwhile, a flock of chickens and a school of pond fish call their yard home. When she’s not busy advocating for the kitties, Shelley’s passion is international volunteering. She has helped build homes for families in need on three different continents so far and is hoping to take her work boots to a fourth continent soon.

Alex, Cat Care Lead

What Alex enjoys most about working with animals is helping them live their best lives and embody their own versions of happiness. In particular, caring for older kitties who are needing some extra love resonates with Alex. Her hope someday is to be able to open her home for many older and unwanted shelter cats to live out their days. Alex’s initial inspiration for getting involved with animal rescue was her childhood dog named Heather. Although Heather had previously experienced abuse, she was a wonderful companion: “She became the dog that my neighbors were super jealous of.” When Alex isn’t working hard for the cats, she visits breweries and markets and enjoys drinking coffee. Alex is also a graduate student at King’s College London studying for her MA in Global Security. At home, she enjoys the company of her kitties Kiera (Knightley), Cho (Chang) whose favorite song is “Hello” by Adele, and (Princess) Fiona, who walks like Mr. Tumnus.  

Dominique Martin, Foster Specialist

Even on the hardest days, working with animals always makes Dominique smile. As she explains, “No matter what they’ve been through and how they walk through life now, I love just being around them and seeing how I can make their days or their worlds just a little bit better.” From a young age, Dominique was always passionate about helping animals. Once she discovered that animal welfare could be a career, she never looked back! At work here at SAFe Rescue, Dominique loves making a difference for cats who might otherwise get overlooked. When she goes home at the end of the day, her focus turns to dogs: in addition to two permanent canine members of her family, (Shelby, a “pitbull baby angel,” and Cookie, a “perfect sassy gremlin”), Dominique also fosters special needs dogs. When she’s not busy looking after furry friends, she plays and coaches roller derby and also enjoys exploring new places, trying new vegan food, learning, singing, journaling, and daydreaming away.  

Amy Mills, Foster and Intake Manager

Amy’s SAFe Rescue roots run deep: she originally adopted in 1999, began to foster in 2009, became more involved over the years, then started as a full time in employee in 2015. Amy, who manages the rescue’s operations, finds it especially rewarding to help people learn about cats and to help cats find the purrfect home. She has a soft spot for big, scruffy, tom cats who blossom into fantastic pets, and her group of kitties at home includes Trinket, a SAFe Rescue foster triumph.

Kim Morgan (LVT), Veterinary Care Manager

Kim’s love of animals shines through in everything she does! From her career, to her hobbies, to her home, Kim’s devotion to protecting defenseless creatures is easy to see. At SAFe Rescue, Kim stays busy tending to the medical needs of the 1,700+ cats who find safety during the course of each year. Even so, Kim still finds time to run the non-profit Isla Holbox Spay Neuter Project, which provides free spay/neuter clinics in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. When she’s not at work or traveling to help animals abroad, you can find Kim at home with her rescue crew, which includes five horses and a pride of rescued felines. Although outnumbered, basset hound Rupert and “bagel” George (a basset/beagle mix) fit right into the beautiful family!   

Celeuca Muianga, Development and Communications Associate

Celeuca’s dedication to animals came at a pretty young age. In fact, when her family moved to the U.S., they even brought their cat! Watching how happy others around her were to make the same commitment, inspired her to get involved here at SAFe Rescue. According to Celeuca, animals provide us with so much more than just cuteness and cuddles. They give us the opportunity, at all stages of our lives, to develop better interpersonal skills, such as recognizing and respecting boundaries, and learning the value of patience. She would have to say that her favorite part of the process of rescuing cats is watching them come out of their shells and into their personalities. When she isn’t at SAFe helping cats, she typically finds herself painting or taking care of her plants at home. She hopes that SAFe Rescue will be the place that helps her give her first very own cat a home.

Lindsey Neblina, Volunteer & Shelter Manager

Lindsey’s connection to the rescue began even before she took on the role of Volunteer Manager: her feline friend Telecaster is a SAFe alum! Her drive to help animals has deep roots: “When my family adopted our first pet when I was a child, I saw all of these dogs and cats without a family, without a home. I knew even as a child that it is my calling to help them in any way I can. I love working with animals because they are our companions, our friends and family members and they deserve our compassion and help. I think there is a lot we, as a society, can do to improve the lives of our own animals and for animals in general.” When Lindsey is not hard at work on behalf of the rescue kitties and humans, you can find her gardening and spending time with her family. Lindsey also shares her home with a golden retriever named Gibson, who—like Telecaster—is named after a guitar.

Jordyn Nolz, Surgical Assistant

Jordyn spends her time at the rescue caring for the cats and kittens in the Isolation Room. These felines are receiving treatment for a skin infection called ringworm. Jordyn gives the “Kitty Cadets” here in the Iso room (lovingly dubbed “Ringworm Academy”) the very best care. It’s always a good day when one of the kitties “graduates” and gets the green light for adoption. Jordyn’s family includes, Jet, a SAFe Rescue alumnus.

Erika Olson, Veterinary Assistant

Tending to the medical needs of kitties is both a career and a passion for Erika! When she’s not here at SAFe Rescue helping homeless kitties, you might find her working at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital or studying for her Veterinary Technician license. Erika takes her compassion for cats home with her: “I really like the special needs kitties! I have two blind cats of my own, and it is amazing what they are able to do.” While Erika’s drive to help animals keeps her busy, she also treasures the quiet moments with her feline friends Manny, Brutus, and Ducky—who are all foster triumphs—and Jazzy.

Gabriel Ponce, Adoptions Counselor

The role of Adoption Counselor is a natural fit for Gabriel! As he explains, “What I love most about working with animals is the feeling you get when you know a kitty has found a loving and perfect forever home.” The kindness and compassion required for work in animal welfare first attracted Gabriel to SAFe Rescue, and animals have always tugged at his heartstrings. Gabriel shares his home with a ditzy senior pit-bull mix named Callie, a sweet Doberman named Nova, and a fluffy senior cat named Tiger. When he’s not working to unite adopters with new furry family members, Gabriel enjoys hiking, playing music, watching movies, playing video games, and performing in musicals and plays at local theaters. 

Sara Price, Operations Director

Sara’s drive and dedication show in everything she does: she’ll be the first to tell you she likes to keep busy! After an early career in business development and management consulting, Sara transitioned to the non-profit sector so that she could use her skills to do good in the world. Sara explains, “I joined an animal welfare organization as a cat care volunteer, and I was hooked! Not only did I love caring for the animals, but I could see that the industry was changing and seeking new ways to improve the lives of animals… I knew animal welfare was where I wanted to be.” In addition to making animal welfare her career, Sara has continued volunteering. She now serves on the Board of Directors of The Goochy Project, which provides crisis-led boarding for the pets of clients referred by human case workers in the Seattle area. At home, Sara and her partner Mike share their home with two feline companions: Rorschach, a friendly black and white cat, and Fry, a scaredy cat with an adventurer’s heart. When she’s not working with nonprofits (or taking Fry for a walk in the garden on his leash), Sara enjoys hiking in the PNW, designing and crafting beaded jewelry, and reading. The COVID-19 pandemic has also rekindled her passion for jigsaw puzzles!

Dylan Shaffer, Community Support Specialist

Dylan tells us that he finds a lot of value in the work he does because he is a purpose-driven person. “The role that I was hired for is the perfect combination of helping people, which I’ve spent the majority of my career doing, and helping animals stay in loving homes, which is something that as a pet owner I’m passionate about.” Dylan believes strongly in the intersection of humans and animals enriching and benefiting one another’s lives. What he enjoys the most about working with animals is getting to know their unique personalities and the ways they showcase their love and appreciation for you. Getting to look at cute cats all day is a nice bonus as well. Dylan and his partner live with two lovely cats: Nora, who is loveable but aloof and Olive who is energetic and just the teensiest bit spoiled. They also have two budgies, Ciri and Egil. As someone who is new to the Seattle area, Dylan spends a lot of his free time exploring the city and trying to find a new favorite place to eat and also enjoys hiking. When he is not feeling up for an adventure he enjoys reading, playing board games, and getting lost in YouTube rabbit holes.

Sarah Theriault, Adoption Center Manager

When Sarah was only 7 years old, she read a book called Koko’s Kitten—and the rest is history! Her love of animals and her drive to help them has stayed with her throughout her life. Sarah finds Adoption Counseling especially rewarding on two different levels: first of all, there’s “the instant satisfaction of meeting people with big hearts who are opening their homes to adoption.” On a broader level, there’s also “the long-term satisfaction of being a part of a team that is actively working on decreasing the homeless cat population and improving feline welfare.” When she’s not busy helping adopters find the perfect kitty, Sarah enjoys adventures with her dog Clay, watching movies, and trying new recipes. (She’s especially talented at baking sweet treats!)

Cody Westfall, Adoption Counselor / Retention Specialist

Cody’s connection with SAFe Rescue started years ago when she saw a cat named “Zippy” posted for adoption. Although this black cat was senior and missing some fur, Cody knew she was the one! Adopting Zippy turned out to be only the first step of Cody’s journey with SAFe Rescue. Cody explains: “After my newly adopted cat was all settled in, I started volunteering… And then later I started fostering… And then began my role as an adoption counselor!” As part of the Adoptions Team, Cody particularly enjoys matching cats with families and supporting humans and felines through the transition. Shy cats will always have a special place in Cody’s heart, and black cats too! Cody currently shares her home with foster triumphs Gandalf and Gabriela and Mr. Fred, who are all black or tuxedo kitties. When she’s not hard at work for the Rescue or spending time with her family, Cody explores her creative side. Her favorite hobbies are jewelry-making, encaustic and mixed media painting, and all kinds of crafts.

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