Longtime Executive Director, and later Director of Development, Leyton J. Cougar, stepped down to pursue his very own dog treat business. You will see him around the sanctuary on occasion shooting some videos or assisting in animal care when we’re short-handed. Leyton started at the sanctuary long ago, when he offered to assist our founder Jacque Evans. In addition to helping to care for the animals, Leyton helped create many of the enclosures and buildings that exist today. One of Leyton’s biggest accomplishments was educating the public, taking ambassador wolves like Raven, Flurry, and Storm all over the country, helping people to better understand the plight of wolves and wolfdogs victimized by the exotic pet trade. We owe Leyton a huge debt of gratitude for growing our following, and helping us to reach thousands of Howling Supporters the world over!
In 2018, Crystal Castellanos and Leyton became co-directors with Crystal stepping into the role of Director of Operations where she managed the day-to-day business of running the sanctuary, and Leyton became Director of Development. This past August, Crystal stepped down from her role and moved with her husband, Ramon (former Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary Social Media Developer), to Hawaii. Crystal also leaves behind a legacy of growth and education both for the public who support us and the many staff and volunteers who have worked here during her time. We will miss them both and wish them well on their new adventure!
The departures of Leyton and Crystal paved the way for our new Executive Director, Brittany McDonald. Brittany comes to us with a tremendous amount of experience and energy. The team is looking forward to pushing her to the limits to guide us to engage our current supporters, spread our message, and improve the sanctuary with her own ideas and perspective, building on what is already considered a world class institution.
If you’re curious about Brittany’s history and vision, you can read an excellent article, written by Kendra Kain-Woods, in our Peek into the Pack blog.
Another key figure, our longtime Animal Care Supervisor, Rae McCue, left the sanctuary to pursue another direction. Rae was instrumental in working with Leyton, Crystal, and Ramon to improve the diets, supplements, and medications as well as to improve the safety of our rescues, humans, and visitors. We are very grateful to Rae for her dedication and tireless work, and wish her the best in life after Wild Spirit.
Kendra Kain-Woods, who is currently on her second stint with the sanctuary, has stepped into the Animal Care Supervisor role. Working closely with Crystal and Rae during her transition, Kendra absorbed critical information necessary to her task. More recently, Kendra has been working closely with Brittany, sharing her own thoughts and ideas as well as learning new ideas and procedures from Brittany. Kendra first came as a volunteer and has since returned with her husband Jared, starting again as an animal care specialist as well as taking on the role of Grant Coordinator. Kendra also committed a lot of time writing various articles for the Peek into the Pack blog, and our news magazine, The Howling Reporter. When Rae announced she was moving on, Kendra asked to be considered for the Animal Care Supervisor position and was accepted. While we’ll miss her grant writing, and article contributions due to her demanding workload, she insists she’ll continue to generate new content as she is able.
Hannah Lind is a Candy Kitchen local who has stepped into the newly created role of Wolf Kitchen Assistant, which allows our small Animal Care Team more time to do their work directly with the critters. When we open once again to the public, Hannah will also help operate our Gift Shop.
As a side note, even though our Gift Shop is currently closed to the public, our online Gift Shop is open and handled by our super Gift Shop Attendant, Stephanie Leitch, and our amazing Bookkeeper, Lisa McNitt. The two of them handle every order in a timely fashion and love making our Howling Supporters happy.
Last, but certainly not least, we have two animal care interns currently in their second week of training. Molly Shaw is back for her second tour at Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, and Shaina Miller is here for her first tour of duty! Both Molly and Shaina travel to us from New York state and bring new energy and excitement to our small team.
Molly was first here for a year in 2017. Molly‘s love for animal care began in upstate New York (the Adirondack park region, to be exact), when she was 15 years old in her first job as a K9 Kennel Attendant. Since then, she has done a variety of animal care related jobs across the country. Some of these jobs included managing a dog boarding kennel, working as an Equine Care Specialist, a Pet After-Life technician, and as the Client Services Coordinator at a non-profit animal shelter. Canids have remained a favorite of Molly’s, and you’d see that in her library of books kept at home.
Her top three favorite things about working in the animal care field include caring for animals directly and providing them with fun and creative enrichment activities, talking with the curious community members and any animal loving folks, and spreading awareness of the importance of animal behavior. Her least favorite part includes how much water you have to consume each day to stay hydrated while walking the compound—that part is a challenge.
Shaina was born and raised in upstate New York where her passion for animals started when she was a child. From being a competitive equestrian to rescuing baby animals from her backyard, Shaina always knew she wanted to work with animals and wildlife. Her career initially began with social work and she obtained a BA from SUNY Plattsburgh and then an MA from Hunter College. Shaina spent the next few years working in a therapeutic setting with children in Peru and then back in NYC. She continued to work with animals in her free time as well as interning at centers for animal assisted psychotherapy, including Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo.
Shaina eventually made the decision to devote her professional career primarily to the care and conservation of exotic animals and wildlife. After finding out about Wild Spirit, she knew it was the place to gain experience and to reach out to the public about the importance and beauty of these incredible animals. Shaina hopes to continue working as an Animal Care Specialist and help inspire others to have a passion for saving our environment and wildlife.
Now that it’s September, the team is preparing the Fall/Winter edition of our bi-annual news magazine, The Howling Reporter. Twice a year, we compile articles, stories, and features, as well as lots of photographs of our rescues, into a 16-page full-color magazine. The content, including the photos and the layout of The Howling Reporter, are all done on-site by our staff. We don’t outsource a single thing, and it’s all original, created by the very people that make this sanctuary function on a daily basis.
Anyone donating $50 or more, whether it’s a direct donation, a sanctuary membership, or a rescue sponsorship, will receive The Howling Reporter in their postal service mailbox. The next issue will feature our two newest rescues, Obi and Kenai, as well as a tribute to rescues who have passed away this spring and summer. You can check out the 2020 Spring/Summer edition of The Howling Reporter as a PDF file, and if this looks like something you’d enjoy you can donate $50 or more, become a member, or sponsor a rescue! Be sure to provide your physical mailing address so we can send you The Howling Reporter around the first of November!
As always, thank you so much for your kind and generous support. On behalf of our family, humans and rescues alike, we are very grateful that you choose to help us.