We cannot thank our volunteer run team enough for their hard work, sacrifice, compassion, creativity, and encouragement. Without these guys and the many other volunteers and foster parents we rely on, we could never save as many lives as we do.
Robert Shapiro, Founder & Director
This kid is our local hero. Robert started Social Tees as a company that sold tee shirts to raise awareness about social issues like race, poverty, and education, and he eventually let it evolve into an animal rescue because he was more passionate about saving neglected critters than about making money. He’s been into reptile rescue and rehab since he was a wee lad, and that’s how this whole thing got started. Robert is a handball fanatic, a master at word play, and spends most of his time trying to save the entire world — for real. In addition to rescue, he and the Samantha Brody are working on environmentally focused projects that will hopefully one day make a huge impact on humanity.
Samantha Brody, Director
Bosses everyone around whenever she feels like it. Jk! Sort of. Samantha started with us as a foster parent in 2012 and quickly started doing just about everything else it takes to manage this amazing, insane, wily, challenging, uplifting creature we call Social Tees. She does most of the boring administrative stuff and also a lot of the cool things like running our social media, planning photo shoots, coordinating adoptions, and playing with really cute animals. She has two ridiculous looking dogs (you may see them from time to time modeling in our Instagram pics) and two cats. In her "past life," she was the senior editor of a parenting magazine and got her Masters in Environmental Conservation Education.
Marisa Adler, Director of Volunteer Operations
Marisa joined us in 2008 after stumbling upon the shelter by accident. Thank goodness she did! She began as a regular old cage-cleaning volunteer and is now the Pied Piper of our volunteer team — she oversees recruitment, training, and adoption events. Marisa says we originally snagged her “because of our multifaceted personality as a socially conscious organization, serving both animals in need and greater societal good through our tee shirt fundraising activities and our environmentally sustainable outlook.” Wow, that makes us sound fancy! (It’s all true.) Outside of animal rescue, Marisa is a sustainable materials management professional and follows a vegan lifestyle. She has two quirky cats, brothers Purrrcy and Clawde. She can't imagine life without them. Two certainly are better than one!
Dimitra Molossi Bennett, Director of Rescue Operations
The woman, the legend. Dimitra is the force of nature behind every off-the-wall thing we do, from rescuing pregnant bulldogs from the underbelly of Brooklyn to figuring out how to bust 100 dogs loose from west coast kill shelters and fly them to the Big Apple. She is our heart and soul, propelling us forward and keeping our heads up especially when times get tough. This Greek Goddess grew up in Germany and has been in the states for the past decade. She also works in TV production, but dogs and cats have always been her passion, and she’s on a mission to end animal abuse and neglect by raising awareness about the rescue world. Her dogs (Mokee the Boston Terrier, Bang Bang the mini poodle, and Emma the Weimaraner) are a great conversation starter for us — did you know that 25% of rescue dogs are purebreds? Discuss.
We barely have words to express our gratitude. Her duties include… EVERYTHING. We pretty much trapped her when she showed her true rescue colors. “Not letting this one go… ever,” we thought to ourselves. We’ve taken over her life, but at least she says she’s met some of the greatest people in the world since joining and what she appreciates most is: “That the animals’ well being is truly our top priority. We alway makes sure they come first no matter how much effort it takes. Everyone works hard, and we are all united in the mission of saving lives.” Word. Also, she's obsessed with Billy Pilgrim, her 8-month-old FIP positive cat.
Terri Atherly and John Mahon
This dynamic duo helps keep our kitties happy and healthy! They live around the corner and are incredibly generous with their time. They come to clean the cages and to give any animal onsite some cuddles and kisses every day, rain or shine. It seems they are always doing something fresh and exciting, like attending the hottest new outdoor art exhibit in Brooklyn or trying the latest exercise class craze. (Zumba, anyone?) We love bumping into them and their glowing smiles around the area when we're all off duty. They have three cats of their own, and they treat every animal they meet — even the scaly ones — like a family member.
Our super awesome and loyal Sunday shelter attendant, Renee keeps the place tidy and helps out with adoptions and foster home coordination. She is one of the happiest, warmest people you'll meet! During the rest of the week, she hangs with her handsome dog and designs toys. So she's basically living every kid’s fantasy version of grownup life. She and her husband rescued their dog Zeke, who they say is the best ever, so she joined our team because she wants to help other people find their best pets ever — and to help the animals waiting for those people in the meantime. She also has a black cat named Dakota Ignatius Kittypants.
This babe has a way with crotchety critters, and she often fosters the grumpy guys that need a chance to chill out. She is one of our Saturday afternoon shelter attendants, and she joined after adopting her dog, Bradley. He had a rough start to life, so he had developed "a bit of an attitude." Seeing the massive behavior changes after a few months of love made her want to help all the misunderstood animals out there find their perfect people. She claims she stuck with us because she thinks it’s amazing to work with such like minded people, and she’s constantly inspired by the dedication and commitment of the entire Social Tees family.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Michael Levitt aka "LA Mike” heading up our rescue efforts on the West Coast. We met Michael in 2012 when he adopted his one-eyed pup Nelson from us, but we realized he was our rescue soulmate when we saw how inspired he was to save more lives. He started creating videos in which he would give dogs newly set free from the kill shelter a celebratory fresh cooked snack, which he called "freedom chicken." We were hooked! Having Michael as our eyes and ears in Los Angeles has allowed us to build strong relationships across the country and to rescue literally hundreds of dogs from high kill Southern CA shelters so far.
Everybody loves Gary! He has been one of our Saturday shelter attendants since 2012. This very sweet and eager-to-help angel joined because he wanted to honor his rescue cat Oliver. He now also has a 5-year-old spoiled-as-hell Pomeranian adopted from us! Gary works very hard for us because, he says, “It is vitally important for all of us to do our part to increase awareness and to help the cause.” Yes! Outside of rescue, Gary has a really grownup job — he’s a board certified prosthodontist specializing in dental implants, cosmetics, veneers, and full mouth rehabilitation. Woah.
Behold, our beloved and revered Canine Fecal Engineer! Inside joke. He's a dog walker, so we made him a shirt years ago featuring that title, and he still wears it. Paul has been with us longer than any other volunteer, and his help is invaluable. So is his sense of humor and creativity, which we rely on for pick-me-ups each day. He's one of those guys who somehow knows everything that's going on, so we constantly turn to him for neighborhood news. He has a dog named Brisket and two senior cats, all foster failures.
This piece of gorgeousness is basically a super hero as she spends nearly every waking moment protecting something special, human or animal, during her day job and while volunteering with us. Plus she has three stunning rescue doggies of her own! She is on call 24 hours a day and, despite her very busy schedule, somehow always available to rise to the challenges we present her, like foster some off-the-wall bulldog puppies for a week, or completely fill her car with dogs and transport them from the airport to our shelter... with a few hours of traffic in between. Michelle’s motto: “I took 9.”
Almost as zany as she is loving. Or is it the other way around? We keep forgetting this one… Elyse has a long history of working her butt off to give dogs better lives, and she runs our Sunday adoption events because, she says, “There is nothing better seeing a Social Tees dog go to his or her forever home, and I have always wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.” Fun fact: She once rescued a pit bull from a few drug dealers on the roof of a crack house (before she joined us), and she’d do it again!
Paw-Parazzi: The very, very talented artists and photographers who donate their time and skills so our critters can find their forever homes faster.
Incredible compassion and creativity in one gorgeous package, founder of realhappydogs.com
Documentary photographer with panache who has a soft spot for rescue critters; amylombard.com
Runs Hilarious Hound, a fun and energetic pet portrait operation; hilarioushound.com