Leadership & Volunteers

BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS

Dan McCabe Dog Star

Dan McCabe (Director)

President

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Dan McCabe is the rescue President and is a rescue jack of all trades master of a few. He is dedicated to moving the organization forward along with the scores of other dedicated dog loving volunteers with the goal of saving as many homeless dogs as possible. In his other full time job Dan is an Insurance Compliance Director. Dan makes his home with Ellen 2 dogs and an occasional guest on its way to their forever home.

Ellen McCabe (Director)

Ellen McCabe (Director)

Intake Leader

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Ellen McCabe is the Intake Coordinator of Dog Star Rescue. Ellen is a 5th grade teacher and lives in Avon, CT with her husband Dan, dogs Duke and Redd and many times a foster dog. She and her husband helped start DSR after being involved in rescue work for several years. She has a lot of fun working along side great volunteers and feels the best part of rescue is seeing a dog meet their forever family for the first time.

Wendy Dobrindt (Director)

Wendy Dobrindt (Director)

Fundraising Leader

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Wendy Dobrindt is the Fundraising Leader for DSR. She started her work with DSR in March, 2016 and volunteers at most events. She works as a Finance Director in the Insurance Industry. She has two very spoiled cocker spaniels, Maddie and Roddy; who was intended to be a short term foster, but decided he never wanted to leave her home and became a forever family member on 12/29/16.

Hayley 2

Hayley Haspeslagh (Director)

Screening Leader

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Hayley started volunteering in August 2015 with her husband, Kyle. They began their rescue journey as fosters and Hayley found her passion shortly after by joining the screening team. During the day, Hayley works in Product Marketing and Management for a global technology company. When she’s not answering emails or participating in events, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 Dog Star Alum – Sam, Maverick (fka Bouncer), and Tremont. You might find them on hiking trails off the beaten path around Connecticut!

Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown (Director)

Communications Leader

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Michelle began volunteering for Dog Star Rescue in 2019 and oversees all communications efforts for our rescue. This includes social media marketing, email marketing, public relations, volunteer communications and more. Michelle can also be found at adoption events doing Facebook Live, helping with contracts and helping out overall where needed. When not playing with dogs or talking about dogs, Michelle heads up marketing and sales for a CT digital agency. Michelle lives in West Hartford with her husband, two kids and three very spoiled rescue dogs, Lucy, Izzy and Sophie (formerly DSR Wanda). She is also often spotted cheering on the Villanova Wildcats at swim meets where her oldest son competes.

veronica beaupre

Veronica Beaupre (Director)

Events Leader

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Veronica began volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in 2019 and has been a vital part of our Events team ever since. As the Events team lead, she is responsible for the many details around our weekly adoption events which take place at our headquarters, local pet stores and other venues throughout central Connecticut. Veronica lives in Windsor CT with her boyfriend Patrick, her rat terrier Tiberius, and a black cat named Trix. Veronica works at The Hartford, loves traveling, the outdoors, and knitting, and of course dogs!

matt

Matt Ominsky (Director)

IT Leader

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Matt has been a Dog Star volunteer since 2020 and oversees everything to do with technology at the rescue. This includes software and support for all areas of our rescue, as well as the plethora of other technical needs at events, our headquarters and more. On the professional front, Matt is a Lead Director of Digital Engineering at CVS Health. Matt resides in Middletown CT along with his wife (and fellow volunteer) Amanda and their two dogs Max & Bailey. When not working or volunteering with Dog Star, Matt also volunteers at his alma mater teaching interview and resume writing skills to students, he loves riding motorcycles throughout the state, visiting as many local restaurants as possible, reading, fishing, and of course, playing fetch in the back yard.

francis dog star

Francis Aguisanda (Director)

Volunteer Leader

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Francis first heard about Dog Star after moving to Connecticut from California, when his search for a rescue dog began. After adopting Aloy (DS Lucy), he started volunteering with Dog Star’s kennel team in February 2022. As a Volunteer Leader, Francis works on improving the volunteer experience at Dog Star. When not volunteering at Dog Star, Francis works on the technical communications team at a biotech company near San Francisco. Francis lives in Bloomfield, CT with his fiancée Alexa, their dog Aloy, and their six rats Pua, Meeko, Sven, Chi Fu, Baloo, and Philippe.

Laura Santirocco (Officer)

Secretary

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Laura has been a Dog Star volunteer since 2018 and, since 2019, its corporate secretary; she also volunteers at various events.  A Hartford-area resident for over 30 years and longtime dog lover/owner, she started volunteering after losing her last cocker, Edward.  She is a corporate and mergers-and-acquisitions lawyer in The Hartford’s law department, where she has worked since 2008.  When she’s not working or volunteering, she pursues a variety of interests including history, travel, bicycling, pilates, and outdoor activities.  She also spoils her fur nephew Casper.

Mary Rodier Dog Star

Mary Rodier (Officer)

Treasurer

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Mary began volunteering with Dog Star in 2022 when she became the Treasurer. She is a dog lover through her daughters who are both dedicated Dog Star foster volunteers. Mary is a retired CPA with over 30 years of experience working with not for profit organizations like Dog Star. In her spare time Mary enjoys traveling with her family, walking outdoors, water color painting, and going to the beach when the weather is nice.

Zoe Arnold

Zoe Arnold (Officer)

Assistant Treasurer/Accounting Coordinator and Event Coordinator

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Zoe started volunteering with DSR in March 2019. She is currently Assistant Treasurer/Accounting Coordinator and an Event Coordinator.  As Accounting Coordinator, Zoe assists in the monthly, quarterly, and year-end financial aspects of Non-Profit accounting. She brings expertise in bookkeeping and Quickbooks. Zoe started volunteering at a difficult time in her life, when a friend suggested volunteering for something she believed in. Of course, she thought of dog rescue! She began volunteering as a dog transporter and handler at adoption events, and quickly fell in love with volunteering for DSR! Not only did she find an indescribable passion for dog rescue, but also found out that in rescuing dogs, they rescue you in a very real way too. Zoe has two beautiful pups of her own, adding her first rescue pup to her pack in 2019. Outside of DSR, Zoe works as a Pet Insurance Claims Processor. Clearly, dogs are Zoe’s whole life, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

COORDINATORS

James Mackey

James Mackey

Behavior Coordinator

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James began rescuing dogs in 2000 from overcrowded Southern California public shelters. After moving to CT, he joined DSR as a volunteer in 2017.  Prior to becoming the Behavior Team Coordinator, James has been an adopter, foster, adoption screener, and Kennel Coordinator. He is now retired and happily living in Avon with his four wonderful dogs.

Sue Zeppa

Sue Zeppa

Medical Coordinator

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Sue started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in 2015 as a foster. Amazingly, Sue has now fostered over 118 dogs and counting!. Prior to her role as the Medical Coordinator, Sue has been on the marketing team, screening team, and foster team. Sue is a registered nurse at St Francis Hospital and her hobbies include horseback riding, running, and golf.

Patricia Lauzier

Patti Lauzier

Intake Coordinator

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Patti started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in August 2016. She started off with dog handling at events. After learning more about the rescue and the other opportunities that were available, she got involved with fostering, transport, social media pictures, and bio writing. When not volunteering with Dog Star, she enjoys spending free time with her husband and their rescue dogs – a 7 year old Rottweiler mix named Ruckus and 1.5 year old Maltese/poodle mix named Moxie. Her other hobbies include hand painting wine glasses, reading, going to wineries and going out to dinner.

JoAnn Sopelak

JoAnn Sopelak

Transport Coordinator

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JoAnn began at Dog Star in 2019 helping transport, handling dogs at events, and is now the Transport Coordinator. Welcoming each pup to New England and then off to a Foster or Furever Family is her favorite part of the rescue process. Her enthusiasm to guide each pup to a forever home, often finds a DSR pup fostering at her home in Enfield where her husband, Dave, and fur baby, Sadie, assist in the transition days to unite each special dog with a welcoming family. When not volunteering, she works with The Enfield
Department of Building and Grounds, enjoys time with her two adult children, gardens, sews, and enjoys the sunshine with Sadie (and Dave)!

Sarah Gardocki

Sarah Gardocki

Screening Coordinator

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Sarah started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in 2022 and has helped in multiple roles. She’s an active foster, helps with transport, does dog handling at events and is now part of our Screening Team. Sarah loves being part of the team that matches the dogs with the right forever families. When not volunteering with us, she is an administrator at Yale University and also volunteers with organizations dedicated to encouraging women and girls in technology related spaces. Sarah has two cats (Flash and Lex) and enjoys hiking and exploring local restaurants and breweries – usually with a foster dog in tow.

Angela

Angela Metivier

Screening Coordinator

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Angela started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in November of 2019 after attending a Dog Star event. She was in search of opportunities to help dogs in need. She began volunteering at events by working the main table, transporting and handling dogs. Currently, she volunteers with our screening team and is excited to continue helping find dogs their forever homes. During the day, Angela works as a Registered nurse at Hartford Health at home. When not volunteering at Dog Star, she likes to go on long walks with her rescue dog Hunter, husband and their two children Ethan & Sadie. 
rachel poutre

Rachel Blackmer

Screening Coordinator

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Rachel started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in the beginning of 2020 after realizing she wanted to help dogs in any way she could. Rachel started off handling dogs at Events and helping dogs off transport, and then helped coordinate our Kennel team for dogs who don’t currently have a foster. She currently is a screener on the screening team, responsible for placing dogs into loving, forever homes. When not doing things at Dog Star, Rachel works as a teacher in Hartford. She lives with her two huskies, her husband Michael and their son.

gillianr

Gillean Reinders

Screening Coordinator

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Gillean started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in 2021. After working as a graphic designer and moving to the area after retiring, she kept meeting people who had either adopted from or volunteered with Dog Star Rescue. She knew that her passion for dogs could serve a greater good, and started on our Eligibility Team. Now on the Screening Team, Gillean helps match dogs to their perfect families. When not volunteering with DSR, she volunteers on the Collinsville Pollen Trail, is at home with her husband Mark (and who is also a DSR volunteer) and enjoys time with their 3 dogs (Gracie, Oliver and Finnegan) and cat Annabelle. Gillean can also be found cheering on her grandchildren at their soccer and track events, or hiking with the dogs on the trails.

Jennifer Potter

Jennifer Potter

Screening Coordinator

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Jennifer started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in January 2019 during her search to add a second dog to her home. After weeks of searching online and attending adoption events throughout the state, Jennifer came across Dog Star Rescue. She was impressed with their mission and commitment to finding the right home for their dogs, so made the decision to sign up to volunteer. Jennifer’s  first volunteer assignments were to help with transport and handling of dogs at events. Since then, she’s volunteered to help any way possible, including events, assisting with weekly vetting and screening potential homes for dogs. She currently volunteers as a Pre-approval Coordinator to help ensure pre-approved applicants have the best opportunity to be matched with the right dog for their family. Jennifer and her husband live with two dogs, Odie and Penny (former Dog Star Ada). They enjoy spending time outdoors, including hiking and camping.

ira

Ira Brandstein

Screening Coordinator

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Ira started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue after adopting DSR alum Cheyenne in late 2021. Introduced to DSR by another volunteer, Ira was really taken back by the process and the advocacy shown to the pups to find their fur-ever homes and wanted to be able to give back the gift of rescuing a dog to others. Ira started doing eligibility checks and quickly moved to being part of the Screening team. Ira feels that the payback for matching a dog and seeing its family together for first time, makes a powerful, satisfying feeling that just can’t be beat. When not volunteering at DSR, Ira is an IT consultant for a large managed service provider in Hartford and is the owner of The Computer Guy 4u in Longmeadow, MA. Ira, with his wife Christine are empty nesters with their three cats Kitty, Boo, and Yuma and their DSR alum, Cheyenne.

Karen Potterton (Director)

Karen Potterton (Coordinator)

Foster Coordinator

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Karen is our Foster Coordinator who also volunteers at almost all DSR Events and works with our Behavior/Training Team. She started volunteering with DSR in 2014 when she retired after spending almost 40 years in the Insurance Industry in various Management and Consulting roles. Karen currently has 3 rescue dogs and 1 rescue cat that are a part of her family. Karen’s greatest dream is to find a home for all the dogs we take in!

Susan Casagrande

Susan Casagrande

Foster Coordinator

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Susan is a Foster Coordinator with Dog Star Rescue.  She joined Dog Star as a volunteer in April 2014 after fostering for a few other rescue groups.  She enjoys working any role at adoption events where dogs have their best chance at a forever home.  Susan volunteers at most adoption events and any other event where she is needed.  Susan’s family (Angelo – husband, Katy – Step Daughter, and Megan – Step Daughter) are also DSR volunteers resulting in a family gathering at many events.  The Casagrandes have 5 rescue dogs of their own, including Grace (the blonde) and Riley (Great Dane), who are Dog Star alumni. The family often has a foster around too. Outside of Dog Star, Susan works for The Hartford in the latent bodily injury claim group.

Christina Kursawe

Christina Kursawe

Foster Coordinator

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Christina started volunteering with DSR in February 2019. She began by fostering dogs and then joined the foster coordinating team. Along with her 3 dogs (2 of which are foster failures), she has 1 cat, 2 geckos, some fish, and 7 chickens. Her husband and two sons help out with fostering and love all the dogs they’ve met along the way. When not volunteering with DSR, she volunteers either with Scouts as advancement chair, or at Donate Life CT. When not volunteering you will find he reading a book or stocking her Little Free Library with books I just finished.

Ali Wasley (Director)

Ali Wasley

Foster Coordinator

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Ali Wasley is a Foster Coordinator at Dog Star Rescue and has personally fostered more than 100 dogs. As a passionate Dog Star member since May 2016, she was previously the Dog Star Rescue Treasurer and Vice President. Ali volunteers at most events and enjoys getting to know each DSR pup. Ali lives in West Hartford with her three dogs and is a CPA and Accounting Manager in her professional life.  She has been a passionate Dog Star member since May of 2016.

2020 SHARON EMBORSKY

Sharon Emborsky

Foster Coordinator

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Sharon first got involved with DSR when she attended a Christmas Event-Santa Pictures in 2018.  She started fostering dogs in May 2019 and became a Foster Coordinator in March 2020. She lives in Bloomfield with her husband Rick (who is also a DSR Volunteer) and her 2 dogs, Thor and DSR alum Tess! When not working they also volunteer at various events and help with various projects at DSR Headquarters.

kyrs

Krzysztof Matusik

Foster Coordinator

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Krzysztof started volunteering with DSR in July 2019 at various events, transporting dogs both from the South and those that are in Kennels in CT.  In November of 2019 he started to foster dogs on the weekends.  He joined the Foster Leadership Team in March 2020 as the Foster Operations Coordinator.  As part of my Coordinator Role, in addition to working with the Foster Team making sure they have all the supplies that they need, he gets to work with our Event, Transport and Medical Teams. He also recently joined the DSR Alumni team when he adopted his first DSR dog. In his spare time he enjoys working on various projects at DSR Headquarters. Dexter (his 6 year old dog) really enjoys it when they go to DSR HQ too.

Jamie Petriashvili

Jamie Petriashvili

Foster Coordinator

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Jamie first heard about Dog Star Rescue when they held a Corporate Event at CIGNA.  She started fostering and attending adoption events for Dog Star in July 2019 and became a Foster Coordinator in April 2020.  When not volunteering or working with Dog Star, she works as a program manager for Tapfin in the Insurance industry.  Jamie lives with her husband David, rescue dog Tyson, and many times a foster dog.  The entire family can be seen watching the Premier League Champs: Liverpool on the weekends.

gail jackson dog star rescue

Gail Jackson

Foster Coordinator (Puppy Program)

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Gail started volunteering at Dog Star after moving to CT in February of 2021. She had previously fostered in PA, mostly young puppies, after retiring in NY state as a middle school teacher. At Dog Star Rescue, Gail oversees our puppy fostering program and has fostered over 20 puppies for Dog Star (and counting). Gail also has contributed to the grants committee at Dog Star. Gail lives in Pawcatuck CT with her husband Rick, also a volunteer. They have two grown daughters. Gail enjoys exercise classes, kayaking, biking, gardening and spending time with her 3 dogs.
kerryandrews

Kerrie Andrews

Volunteer Coordinator

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Kerrie is a Volunteer Coordinator for Dog Star. She started volunteering as a foster in January of 2020 after having beers at Hooker Brewery poured by owner Curt Cameron who sold her on the idea. In addition to fostering, she has works at events as a greeter and dog handler. Kerrie lives in West Hartford with her husband Brett, 3 children, and beloved dog, Dixie, an 11 year-old pit bull mix. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for almost 20 years and currently works as an Institutional Account Manager for Alexion in rare disease. When she isn’t working, you will find her in hockey rinks September-March watching her boys play, or on the sidelines of the soccer field watching her daughter in goal.

jennifer killips

Jennifer Killips

Volunteer Coordinator

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Jennifer (Jen) started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in December 2020, initially as a part of the screening team and later joining the event team, kennel team, and medical team, before taking on a leadership role as a Volunteer Coordinator. She has rescued a total of five dogs of her own, and currently lives in Bloomfield CT with her husband Ryan (also a DSR volunteer) and their three dogs Willow, Oakley, and Finn, two of which are DSR Alum. When not volunteering with DSR, Jen works as a Nurse Practitioner specializing in geriatrics. In her free time (other than volunteering at DSR, of course) she enjoys reading, gardening, video games, and traveling.

Margaret

Margret Frenette

Transport Coordinator

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Margret became a Dog Star volunteer in 2015 when she moved to Avon.  She started by dog walking and handling dogs at events.  Previously a Board member, she is now the part of our Transport Team, welcoming new Dog Stars as they arrive.  Margret grew up and raised a family here in Connecticut.  After a 30-year career in the insurance industry, she now enjoys helping people as a Realtor.  She has rescued and fostered many dogs over the years including her German Shepherd, Blake, who she trained as a Therapy Dog.  Together, Margret and Blake visited the kids at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center until Blake retired due to arthritis.  When she’s not volunteering with Dog Star, Margret spends her summers in the garden, and knitting and quilting during the winter.  She walks all year long, in all kinds of weather.

terri

Terri Buganski

Event Coordinator

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After teaching for 41 years, Terri wanted to pursue her love of dogs. She heard about Dog Star from a former volunteer and joined in 2016 as a handler at events. Since then she joined the event team and volunteers at most events at main table. Terri also serves on the fundraising and advertising teams
and fosters as well. She adopted Kelly in 2017 after her meet and greet did not work out. Terri’s dream is to buy a huge piece of land and have a dog sanctuary.

jill perrault

Jill Perreault

Dog Stars 4 Vets Program Coordinator

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Jill began volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in December 2015 after reading an article in the Hartford Courant.  As a lifelong dog lover, she was looking for an opportunity to help dogs in need. She began handling dogs at events. In late 2018 she was approached by DSR’s board president to become involved in a new initiative, Dog Stars 4 Vets, providing Veterans with companion dogs at a reduced cost. She jumped onboard, built the program, and is the Program Coordinator. Jill lives in Simsbury with her husband and three dogs, Gus, Ranger (pictured,) and Archie, all DSR alumni. When she’s not volunteering, she enjoys cooking, reading and being a foster for us.

amanda ominsky

Amanda Ominsky

Fundraising & Event Coordinator

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Amanda is part of several teams at Dog Star Rescue, including our Fundraising and Event teams, as well as supporting our marketing team in several capacities as well. Amanda helps out with adoption events as well as special fundraising events too. In her professional life, Amanda works in the hospitality industry managing events, venues and outings. Amanda is married to fellow volunteer Matt, has two dogs and is a proud NJ girl. When not working or volunteering, Amanda loves to travel the world.

Jessica Eldridge Dog Star

Jessica Eldredge

Marketing Coordinator

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Jessica joined Dog Star in 2021, fostering dogs with her fiancé in memory of her own family rescue dog. She quickly became a member of the communications team, where she uses her passion for writing and visual storytelling to contribute to the organization’s social media and public relations efforts. When not working for Dog Star and snuggling her foster pups, Jess works as a Communications Consultant for a large insurance company in Hartford. In her free time, you can find her running road races, scoping out cute coffee shops and spending lots of time with family.

carling

Carling Willis

Marketing Coordinator

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Carling started volunteering with Dog Star in 2022 in memory of her childhood dog. She started with kennel shifts but wanted to use her passion and talents in marketing and communications to further her involvement with the organization. Carling helps with social media marketing, coordinating and planning campaigns, as well as assisting with co-marketing opportunities with local businesses. When she is not volunteering with DSR, Carling works as the Marketing Coordinator for a Connecticut college. Her own rescue dog, Tucker, is the center of her world and she’s so thankful she’s able to give back to find other rescue dogs their forever homes!

dwight Townsend-Gray

Dwight Townsend-Gray

Kennel Coordinator

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Dwight began volunteering with Dog Star after hearing about us through his coworker, also a volunteer on our foster team. Dwight grew up with dogs and was looking for a way to get more involved after moving to CT from the DC area. He mostly can be seen volunteering in our kennels, and he has made a huge impact in such a short time. Dwight lives in Enfield with his dog Sadie. When not at Dog Star Dwight enjoys hiking, cooking/baking, board & video games, and watching baseball.

shawn wheeler

Shawn Wheeler

Kennel Coordinator

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Shawn started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in the fall of 2020 and quickly became part of several teams. While Shawn is part of the kennel leadership team, he’s also part of the medical team, transport team and even fosters for us. When not busy with all of that volunteering, he enjoys walking and hiking with his dog Leo, working on cars, spending time with his family, and going to the gym.

Jessica Leroux

Jessica Leroux

Kennel Coordinator

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Jess became a volunteer in the spring of 2020, first starting as a foster. That summer she joined the kennel team, and in 2021 joined our kennel leadership team. She is in charge of onboarding new kennel volunteers make sure they are comfortable in their roles. Jess also still fosters for us too. When not volunteering for Dog Star Rescue, Jess is a nurse, enjoys hiking and also visiting local vineyards. Jess lives with her husband Matthew, also a kennel volunteer, her two dogs (Gretchen and Tucker) and her cat Ollie.

karyl beloin

Karyl Beloin

Kennel Coordinator

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Karyl started volunteering with Dog Star Rescue in the summer of 2020 after two successful careers. After she met a fellow volunteer, she was hooked and quickly dove into several areas of the rescue. You will see Karyl coordinating our kenneled dogs, doing adoption contracts at events, and even doing reference checks for new applicants. Outside of the rescue, Karyl has 3 adult kids and 2 grand kids. She also has a full crew of animals which includes 5 dogs (Padme – DS Doodlebug), Buffy – DS Mila, Sookie & Liza), 3 cats and 6 guinea pigs. She is also a volunteer with her local church.