By connecting our nation’s military Veterans with rescued animals, Pets for Vets helps create second chances and new beginnings. With over 300 successful matches and counting, we are changing lives one lick at a time.
Making the perfect, lifelong match begins with our dedicated volunteer trainers who help select and prepare animal companions for their new lives. If you are a professional dog trainer who wants to make a difference for Veterans and pets, we would love to have you on our team!
Turn your dollars into real change with a tax-deductible donation to Pets for Vets. Your contribution directly impacts Veterans and their animal companions by providing everything they need to start their life together on the right paw.
Greater Cleveland and Akron
Hard copy mail address where you can send donations or event registration:
Pets for Vets Cleveland Chapter
8584 East Washington Street, #115
Chagrin Falls, OH 44023
To help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by using the power of the human-animal bond to provide a second chance for shelter animals by rescuing, training and pairing them with America's servicemen and women who could benefit from having a companion animal.
Cleveland, OH Chapter is a
Founded on (month), 2018
Meet the Team
Joan Tiefel - Chapter Director
Joan has had dogs her entire life with one being certified as a therapy dog and another involved in agility training. Each of her dogs has been, and are, “companion” dogs, which have taught Joan first hand, the comfort and joy they bring into our lives.
Growing up, and to this day, Joan and her brother Howard, who served as a medic on the front lines in Viet Nam, have remained very close. Throughout the years Howard has shared with her many of his experiences overseas as well as the difficulty of coming home to a country which was unappreciative of the many services and lives which were given by our U.S. Military while serving in Viet Nam. Life was forever changed for Howard upon his return. Upon discovering Pets for Vets, Joan is now able to combine her passion for Veterans along with her passion for dogs, by starting the Cleveland Chapter of Pets for Vets, which is dedicated to her brother Howard.
Kristy Hull – Vice President Executive Bd. /Co-Chair of Marketing and Social Media
Kristy has her degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania where she majored in Marketing and Management. She is currently the Managing Director at the commercial real estate brokerage company, Newmark Knight Frank, where she has worked for the past 11 years.
Kristy sits on the board of Growth Capital Corporation, the largest SBA lender in the state of Ohio, and is a member of Cleveland Leadership, an organization which engages leaders of all ages to drive positive change within the community. Additionally, she has volunteered with Cleveland Kids Book Bank, and has participated in a local community outreach program.
Kristy has three little boys aged 7, 5, 4. In her spare time she likes to read and play tennis!
Brigid Woodland – Foster Coordinator / Co-Chair of Marketing and Social Media
Brigid has a B.A. in Marketing Communications from Creighton University in Omaha, and is now the Marketing Director at the Cleveland Better Business Bureau.
Brigid has enjoyed volunteering with many organizations, including the Nebraska Humane Society, Clallam County Humane Society and Rescue Village in Cleveland. Additionally, she works with a local rescue, Geauga Mama Dogs and Pups, whose purpose is to take in pregnant moms or new moms and their pups until they are healthy and strong enough to be sent to foster homes in order to be socialized and prepared for adoption. When not busy with work and her kids, Brigid spends her time with her 10 year old rescue dog, and 2 Golden Retrievers, including a TDI trained therapy dog. Other than continuously hosting foster puppies, Brigid also breeds her Golden Retrievers and is the unofficial matchmaker for friends looking to adopt a puppy or dog!
Sue Overholt – Secretary/Treasurer Executive Board
Sue has lived in the Cleveland area for the past 20 years.
She coaches the boys and girls tennis teams at Chagrin Falls High School, and is an active member of Parkside Church, where she works on the homeless and meal ministries.
Dogs have always been an important part of Sue's life, and her current dog Bear, a yellow lab, has shown her the value of the support and comfort a dog provides.
Susan has a BS in Finance from Florida State. In her free time she enjoys tennis, running and spending time with her two children and family.
Lynn Wolf-Meldon - Volunteer Coordinator
Lynn has always loved animals, from the “smallest”, hamsters and a rabbit when she was a child, to the 80 lb Bouvier des Flandres she had when she was older. She has a nursing degree, but nowadays spends much of her time volunteering for four different organizations, one of which is the local Cleveland Animal Protective League. Lynn and her husband currently own three cats, one that found them and the other two, which are siblings, they adopted from the APL.
She enjoys helping people, especially the elderly and veterans. Her dad was a Marine and fought in World War II. He rarely talked about the war, but before he died, he mentioned he still had survivor’s guilt. Since he rarely talked of his experience in the war, Lynn hopes to help others as they deal with the aftermath of military service.
Donna Bernsdorf - Event Coordinator
Donna is a Senior Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch in Hudson, Ohio. She is also a professional musician, who had regional success with her all girl band "Lipstick ". You can often find her on the weekends playing keyboards for "That 80s Band"! Donna describes herself primarily as an advisor, entrepreneur, musician, friend and Christian.
She is no stranger to charities. She regularly supports the Cleveland Animal Protective League and The Cleveland Pregnancy center. She is really excited to be a part of Pets for Vets® as her love of country and animals make it a perfect fit for her.
Meet the Trainers
Elizabeth Richards – MBA, CPDT-KSA, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
Elizabeth is a Mentor resident who has been offering training and other pet-related services since the late 1990's. Elizabeth's hobbies include training and showing her rough collies
Pamela Ginther Perry –
Pamela has worked at All About Dogs since 2009 offering her Reiki and Canine massage services as well as working in the daycare. Spending time and watching how dogs interact helped Pam learn more about canine body language and behavior. That knowledge, coupled with her involvement in various training classes such as agility, Rally-O and obedience led her to teach training classes and help dogs and their owners build positive relationships. She has been teaching classes since 2012. In December 2018 she was accepted as a “Pets for Vets” trainer, and she looks forward to helping our local Veterans find companionship from local rescues and shelters.
Stacy Totten –
Stacy has been training pet dogs professionally for the past 20 years at her boarding and training facility, Meadow Run, in Richfield. She competes in Scentwork with her Jack Russell and her German shorthair, and is a licensed judge. For leisure, she rides horses, hikes, gardens, and paddle boards.
Stacy and her husband both served in the Ohio Military Reserve for 11 years. One of their sons is currently on active duty in the Army, and the other is attending the Police Academy. She has a strong commitment to helping those who have served their country in any capacity.
Tina Geffert –
Tina was volunteering as a docent at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo when she was sparked with the idea to become a dog trainer. She volunteers at a local dog shelter and is a graduate of CATCH Canine Training Academy. Tina is currently working to obtain Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed certification through CCPDT
Laura J. Evans –
Laura J. Evans CPDT-KA, is the owner of North Coast Dogs , a Cleveland training company that has been helping owners and their companions since 2001. Laura also enjoys volunteering as a dog walker and foster for the Cleveland Animal Protective League, as well as with horse rescues as time allows. She is a certified dog trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluator. Laura is dedicated to enhancing her knowledge of dog behavior and training, and does so by attending educational seminars as well as through her work with area rescues. She is excited to be a part of Pets for Vets. At home, she enjoys the company of three rescue pups as well as a rescue cat: two are fosters that came to stay.
"He’s more than just a friend. He’s my battle buddy. He’s my left hand. We’re connected by a leash, but it’s really our umbilical cord. He’s sometimes more tuned into me than I’m tuned into me. He knows more about me than I do sometimes. He lets me know what’s going on."
"You would think that a dog is just a dog. That may be true for some, but not me.
I used to sit at home, alone, and just let life pass me by, but now I have a reason to get up. Even if it’s feeding Samson, or taking him for walks, he has motivated me to live again."