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About Us

About Us

Woods Humane Society is a nonprofit organization which receives no tax funds, but is supported by donations, grants, bequests, fundraising events and fees for services. Woods is independent of San Luis Obispo County Animal Services, but works in close cooperation with them and other animal groups in the county for the welfare of all animals.

Woods now cares for over 3,000 cats and dogs each year at our facilities in San Luis Obispo and Atascadero until they can be united with loving forever families.  We accept surrendered pets from our local community members if they are no longer able to care for them, and transfer animals in from over crowded shelters both locally and from other areas of California. Woods is committed to finding loving homes for all healthy and treatable pets, no matter how long it takes.  With our behavior and veterinary resources, we are able to go the extra mile for animals in need.

As part of our commitment to work towards ending pet overpopulation, not only is every animal at Woods spayed or neutered, we also provide low-cost spay and neuter services for San Luis Obispo County Animal Services, many other local rescue organizations, and for owned animals in our county.  Our medical team has performed nearly 40,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the Woods-Cashin Surgery Center since its opening in 2007.  The Humane Education Program offers a wide range of activities for tots to teens and provides insight and enrichment for the next generation of animal advocates.  Our Behavior and Training Department provides expert care for dogs in our adoption program as well as dog obedience training classes for the public, designed to keep pets in their homes and out of shelters.  Financial support from donors and the dedication of our staff and hundreds of volunteers ensure the success of our work.

Our Mission

Our mission is to serve, protect and shelter homeless companion animals; to place animals into humane environments; to promote responsible pet ownership, provide humane education, and reduce animal overpopulation; and to celebrate the human-animal bond.

Meet Our Board of Directors

Kandy Noel

Board PRESIDENT
Kandy Noel has been in the wealth management business for over 40 years and is currently transitioning into retirement and consulting work for Mechanics Bank. She is the current Board treasurer of Woods Humane Society as well as the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) in Atascadero. Her connection to both nonprofits comes from her love of animals and humans who are struggling with homelessness. She is on the quest for a dog to add to her family and in her spare time, Kandy loves to travel with her husband, hike, garden and sit on the porch reading with her cat.

Dr. Jo Campbell

Vice president
Dr. Jo Campbell has worked in higher education for 40 years. She currently serves as the associate vice president for Student Affairs and executive director of University Housing at Cal Poly, joining the institution in 2016. After living in the Midwest for over 30 years, she is enjoying San Luis Obispo’s temperate climate and proximity to the ocean. She has done many years of volunteer work with humane societies in the Midwest with cats and kittens and joined the Woods Board in 2018. She loves traveling with her wife and taking lots of pictures of landscapes and wildlife.

Terry Miron

TREASURER
Terry Miron was employed in the accounting and bookkeeping field for 30 years and her last position before retirement was as accounting manager for all the Kennedy Club Fitness locations. She was a volunteer and Board member with North County Humane Society since 1994 and when the organization merged with Woods Humane Society in January 2017, she joined the Woods Board. She has volunteered with Girl Scouts of the California Central Coast, serving as a council Board member, audit committee chair and finance committee member. Terry is a team member of the Central Coast Dragon Boat Association and her passions are animal welfare, issues affecting girls and women, and physical fitness.

Marcia Torgerson

SECRETARY
Marcia Torgerson has lived in Atascadero since 1979. She was involved with Action for Animals Rights in the early 1980’s which later became the North County Humane Society and now is Woods Humane Society North County. She served the City of Atascadero as the elected city clerk for 20 years and she also worked in the city manager’s office for 18 years, retiring as the deputy city manager in 2015. Marcia feels strongly about the education of community members regarding the importance of spay/neuter and she is passionate about assisting homeless animals in finding a happy and safe home.

Mike Terry

Past BOARD PRESIDENT
Mike Terry is a retired attorney who has worked in San Luis Obispo County for over 30 years. Over that time, he represented many of the local municipalities and school districts. He has lived in South County towns and San Luis Obispo since 1989 and has had dogs and cats for almost his entire life. In addition to his love of all animals, he greatly appreciates all that our beautiful area has to offer. Mike has volunteered as a “Sole Man” at the Wine Women & Shoes event for RISE, and participated, with his wife, in several Women’s Marches.

Charlene Rosales

BOARD member
Charlene Rosales is a longtime supporter of Woods Humane Society and has served on its Board of Directors since 2016. A graduate of Leadership SLO and Leadership CA, she is also a Board member of the Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo Daybreak, SESLOC Federal Credit Union and volunteers as a member of the Community Benefits Committee for Dignity Health. Following her after-school and summer job working for a veterinarian hospital, she came San Luis Obispo to study Animal Science at Cal Poly. She has worked in the private, higher education, nonprofit and government sectors.

Meet Our Leadership Team

Neil Trent

CEO
Neil's passion for animal welfare began over 30 years ago as an animal control inspector the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in the United Kingdom. Since then, he has worked on behalf of animals in countries around the world for organizations such as the WSPA, where he was the Regional Director, and as Executive Director of the Humane Society International, the international arm of the HSUS. Additionally, Neil has served as executive director for organizations in California, Colorado, and Virginia.

Sue Berry, CAWA

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Sue is a graduate of Daniel Webster College where she earned her BS degree in Management and Information Technology. Sue worked as the Director of Administration for the New Hampshire SPCA after volunteering there for several years. For over a decade, Sue worked tirelessly as an advocate for the animals of New Hampshire, earning valuable experience and providing strong leadership to the organization. 

Sue moved to California in 2015 to join Woods Humane Society and brought her passion, dedication and experience to the role of Director of Operations. In 2020, she earned her certification through The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and became a CAWA (Certified Animal Welfare Administrator).

She and her husband share their home with eight adopted animals! Their cat Gemma, three parrots Vito, Bee and Jingle; and German Shepherd mix, Mason, came with them across country. Since joining Woods they have also adopted their Dachshund mix Jellybean, their Chihuahua mix Tansy, and their Staffordshire Terrier mix, Dudley to add to their family.

Emily L'Heureux

Director of development
As Director of Development, Emily actively connects with Woods' supporters, helping them in any way she can. With Woods being privately funded and receiving no government assistance, we rely solely on the generosity of the community and taking excellent care of these generous people is something Emily considers a privilege.

Woods Humane Society is an organization that does LIFE SAVING and TRANSFORMING work every day and it is for this reason that Woods matters so much to Emily. Seeing animals, that were once scared in the shelter, flourishing in their safe and happy homes is a huge source of motivation.

Along with being an advocate of adoption, Emily is a lifelong volunteer, currently serving as a Board Member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (San Luis Obispo chapter) and a founding Board Member of Junior League of the Central Coast. She has always had a house full of rescued animals and her current group includes Luca, a 15 year-old from CCSPCA, as well as Ranger, a one-year-old from, you guessed it: Woods!

Dr. Leslie Sklena, DVM

DIRECTOR OF veterinary services
In June 2017 Dr. Leslie Sklena eagerly joined the team at Woods Humane Society as our Director of Veterinary Services. A California native and Cal Poly Animal Science graduate, Dr. Sklena earned her DVM from the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, Canada. After shoveling snow from her driveway for the last time, she returned to California to practice companion animal medicine in the Sacramento area. As a shelter veterinarian, she has spent the past several years providing the best care possible to the homeless animals of San Diego County. In her most recent roles, she has overseen the medical operations of high volume shelters and has acted as the medical liaison for community stakeholders. At the San Diego Humane Society, she was part of the team to spearhead the community outreach program that provided low cost sterilization services for the community. Her strong belief in providing basic preventive medicine to the underserved animals of our communities’ stems from her time spent volunteering both as a student and veterinarian on Native reservations in the Dakotas as well as travelling internationally to promote humane treatment and best surgical practices.

Dr. Sklena is thrilled to be back on the beautiful Central Coast and grateful to be a part of the Woods family. She shares her home with her husband and a menagerie of “foster-failure” pets.

Robin Coleman

community engagement  MANAGER

After many years in property management Robin was ready for a change and she found it when she moved to the Central Coast with her husband and daughter.  After a few months spent getting settled, they wandered into Woods Humane Society, “just looking”.  They immediately fell in love with a dog named Dexter and added him to their family.

During that process Robin also fell in love with Woods, and was thrilled to start her career at Woods as Customer Service Supervisor where she got to combine her love of animals and love of working with people. She has also fullfilled the role of Volunteer Coordinator and Adoption Program Manager over the years at Woods. 

Now as Community Engagement Manager, Robin is  responsible for developing relationships through targeted outreach and increasing public awareness of Woods Humane Society’s various programs, services and initiatives.


When not at work you can find Robin spending time with her family, taking Dexter to the beach, going on walks, trying new restaurants and just enjoying the beauty that the Central Coast landscape offers. 

Jamie Relth

communications manager

Jamie joined the Woods Humane Society team in February 2015 as the Humane Education Coordinator soon after losing her beloved, Woods-adopted dog to cancer.  She was thrilled to pay forward the love and life-lessons her dog gave to her by teaching the next generation about how to be kind to these shelter animals that make our lives so much richer.

Jamie has initiated new programs for children such as Book Buddies and KIND Club, while continuing longstanding popular programs like Critter Camp, Birthdays that Benefit, school visits, facility tours, and more. 

As Communications Manager, Jamie creates cohesive, compelling messaging across all media channels to effectively engage and educate the public in support of the Woods mission. She also oversees Woods Humane Society’s youth programs in the Humane Education Department.

As a writer with a background in journalism, marketing and public relations, Jamie is honored and grateful to help tell the inspiring, heartwarming stories made possible by Woods Humane Society and to spread the word about the importance of adoption and animal welfare to community members of all ages.

She is a proud Woods foster-failure and spends much of her free time working on clicker training with her cat, Meera, and practicing agility or hiking with her dog and Woods’ education canine-ambassador, Ollie.

In her free time, Jamie enjoys running, swimming, hiking, climbing, cycling and flying through the air on aerial silks!

Braeleigh Doble

CUSTOMER SERVICE MANAGER
Braeleigh’s love for animals started at a very young age and when, in 2013, she had the opportunity to work at Woods she gladly accepted a position as an Animal Care Giver. She loved that she was able to create a bond with all of the cats and dogs while they waited for adoption and then the joy of seeing them go to wonderful homes.

It wasn’t long before one of those animals found her wonderful new home with Braeleigh, her husband and two cats. Mira, a German Pincher made their lives complete and has left many paw prints on their hearts!

In 2016 Braeleigh became a member of our Customer Service Team where she continued to provide unconditional love and care for the animals at Woods as she assisted members of the public. Her passion for animals, her warmth and facility for meeting the needs of people, and her ability to foster calm at our bustling front desk made her a natural choice for promotion to Customer Service Supervisor. She now leads an amazing team that strive to ensure customer satisfaction as they work to set up each adopted cat and dog for success in their new family.

Braeleigh says, “Working at Woods Humane Society has been so rewarding and I truly love being a part of the Woods family. I am so blessed to be able to come to work and meet so many loving cats and dogs. Every day I get to celebrate the human-animal bond and I get to see people adopt a new family member. It’s really a beautiful thing that tugs at my heart.”

Chantalle Little

Animal care MANAGER

Halfway through volunteer orientation Chantalle knew Woods was the place for her. She began as an Animal Caregiver in 2012 and has since spent time working in Woods’ Medical, Customer Service, and Animal Care and Intake departments. 

Chantalle worked to increase adoptions at Woods while reducing overpopulation and overcrowding in neighboring shelters through Woods Humane Society’s Animal Transport Programs. By building and managing our  Foster Program Chantalle put her own experience bottle feeding tiny kittens to use as she recruits, trains and supports the dedicated caregivers who foster dozens and dozens of abandoned kittens each spring and summer as well as managing the foster care for adult animals.

When the opportunity arose, Chantalle was the natural choice to become the Animal Care Manager, leading the animal care team in the daily cleaning, care and adoptions of all the animals in our program. 

Chantalle was an animal volunteer and advocate for numerous agencies while growing up in Orange County, CA. She moved to the central coast in September of 2009 to pursue a degree in Animal Science, graduated from Cal Poly, and like many others has made San Luis Obispo County her home.

When not working to help both people and animals at Woods, Chantalle is out kayaking, hiking or exploring the county with her dogs, Polly Pocket and Chino or relaxing with her cat, Diesel

Rachelle Hiser

adoption program manager, north county

Even as a young girl Rachelle could be found volunteering her time to help animals; she helped out at rescues for Collies and Tonkinese show cats.  Eventually both organizations, recognizing her incredible commitment, brought her on as a paid staff member.

In 2007, Rachelle again signed up to volunteer, this time at North County Humane Society.  She spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week doing anything and everything that needed to be done to keep the facility clean and the cats happy.  It wasn’t long before she was asked to join the staff, taking on each new responsibility with dependability and dedication.

In January of 2107 when the long-time shelter manager retired, Rachelle was the natural choice to step into the leadership role.  She now heads a team that provides loving, professional care to the hundreds of cats and kittens who find their way to Woods – North County.  She also takes care of the people who come to the shelter, spending all the time needed to learn about each new adopter so that they can find the perfect cat or kitten to take home.

In her free time she can be found caring for her dog Taz and her cat Biscuit, a kitten she helped to foster.  She likes to spend time at the beach or taking hikes with Taz at her side – sometimes on long hikes around the county, sometimes just around Atascadero Lake.  She enjoys snowboarding, sky diving and spending time with friends.  Most of all she is a loving mother to her children who are also her best friends.

Michelle Rizzi, CPDT-KA, CAP-2

BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING manager

Michelle Rizzi, CPDT-KA, CAP-2 has been a professional dog trainer since 2001. Michelle is a nationally Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) and an active member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. 

Michelle began working with shelter dogs at the SPCA in L.A in 2001. The following year she moved to Salt Lake City where she was the first trainer to introduce Positive Reinforcement Training. She taught a variety of classes at the Humane Society of Utah for the next seven years specializing in behavior modification for fearful and/or aggressive dogs.

“I get to work with dogs all day, come home to my own dogs in the evening, and I’m still eager to greet every dog I pass by on the street; I know I am in the right place!”

With a strong background in training shelter dogs, Michelle is happy to be working at Woods Humane Society where she can continue to have a positive impact on improving and enriching the lives of pet dogs.

Catherine Armstrong

volunteer & event coordinator
It didn’t take very long for Catherine to realize that the missing piece of her college experience was giving back to the local community in the very best way: by loving on the dogs and cats at Woods who were patiently waiting for forever families! An avid animal lover, Catherine grew up in the Bay Area volunteering in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and then moved to the Central Coast in 2011 to pursue a degree in another one of her passions – music. During her time at Cal Poly, she was fortunate enough to receive “fur therapy” from the adoptable Woods dogs amidst finals week, and immediately signed up for the next orientation.

Catherine officially joined the Woods team as an employee in the summer of 2015 as the Critter Camp Counselor. She then worked in both the Customer Service and Animal Care departments before assuming the role of Volunteer Coordinator.  Catherine comes to work eager to lead a team of like-minded and dedicated volunteers who help ­­ make Woods’ mission a reality.

On her days off Catherine can be found strolling down the beach, reading a good book, or enjoying the company of friends and family. 

Dani McKinsey

intake supervisor

Dani has lived on the central coast for basically her whole life and her love of animals began when she was just a young girl - she was always out helping animals with her mom. She told her mom that one day she wanted to run her own animal rescue. It’s clear that Dani ended up in the right place.

While Dani was attending Cal Poly, she came to Woods as a Marketing & Event Intern…and she never left!  As an intern, she began writing all of the animal profiles you read on our website. As the Intake Supervisor Dani helps hundreds of animals and people who need to surrender their pets. She knows that this isn’t an easy decision for anyone and she provides that warm and welcoming attitude that makes people feel better about the difficult decision to find a new home for their pet. The best part of her job is when someone brings an animal in very upset and they leave with a sense of calm knowing that we will provide their pet with the love and care they need. Being able to tell a person their pet was adopted is a great part of her day. In addition, she oversees the Transport Program which provides second chances for adoptable pets from our shelter partners who struggle with overcrowding. 

When Dani isn’t at work, you can find her hiking with her two beloved dogs, Dakota and Zeppelin, riding her horses, Millionario and Libbey, coaching young soccer players, and serving as the Marketing & Media Director and Graphic Designer for The Teal Journey Ovarian Cancer Foundation. At the end of the day, you’ll find Dani relaxing on her couch with her two best pals, Dakota and Zeppelin. 

Janell Matthies

Veterinary services supervisor

Janell Matthies joined the Woods team in April 2021. Janell first became actively involved in animal welfare as a volunteer over 30 years ago. She has worked professionally in emergency animal rescue with various national organizations for the last 13 years, primarily working on large scale cruelty cases and disaster response. She is currently in the process of earning her RVT license. She is a recent transplant from Northern California and is enjoying living the Central Coast life in Morro Bay with her BFF Sammy, a 17-year-old poodle mix

Eric Stockam, CPDT-KA

BEHAVIOR AND TRAINING Coordinator

Eric Stockam moved to the Central Coast 6 years ago after growing up in El Dorado Hills, California.  Eric began working with dogs over 7 years ago and got his start at the El Dorado County Animal Shelter where he both volunteered as well as fostered dogs and cats.

Eric began working for Woods Humane Society as an Animal Caregiver and quickly applied his interest in canine behavior, fulfilling the requirements to become a nationally certified dog trainer (CPDT-KA) in late 2016, with the mentorship of our Behavior & Training Manager, Michelle Rizzi. Prior to working as a full-time dog trainer Eric’s employment has included veterinary assistant, grooming assistant, pet sitter, and animal caregiver.

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