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Have you ever wondered why you take care of your pet the way you do? Is it because of your parents’ routine with your childhood pet? Or maybe it started with a specific person whose pet stole your heart. How they treat their pets is so wholesome that you start to care for your pet better too.
Do you have someone in mind? We do.
For International Woman’s Day, we dove into the world of pets and the people around the world who love them. After reading many stories, 11 women stood out for their empathy, work, and dedication to different aspects of the human-animal bond. These women are leaders, role models, innovators, and advocates for a healthier, happier life with pets. Read on to learn more about the work they do and what they are building to at the intersection of human and animal wellbeing.
Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet Cast & Crew
Why we admire this work: Storytelling with Indigenous narratives, talent, and crew through an everyday lens
,This shoutout goes to the entire production crew behind Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet. Aired in May 2022, this Indigenous-led TV show highlights Dr. Savannah Howse-Smith, a Métis veterinarian in rural Alberta, Canada. Through the series, we witness her work in the community as she discovers more about her Métis heritage.
We'd like to take a moment to thank all of our viewers who tuned into season one of Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet ❤️ We…
Posted by Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet on Thursday, June 30, 2022
We also love to see an entire team committed to diverse and authentic storytelling to a point. Produced by Shirley McLean and Tania Koenig-Gauchier, this show is also weaved together by Indigenous talent both behind and in front of the camera. As the saying goes, behind every powerful woman is a community of people supporting her.
You can watch Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet on Apple TV+. The show has also been renewed for a second season.
Kassidi Jones of @gingers_naps
Why we admire this work: Seamless integration of diversity and inclusion through a pet parenthood lens
As we become better pet parents, we can also follow Kassidi Jones’ Instagram to learn how to be better pet people. Jones delivers accessible and well-researched carousels and Reels to explore how dogs and racism have intertwined—and how that can influence our perspective. She also dives deeply into what being an antiracist animal advocate looks like.
Being a compassionate person and an enthusiastic pet parent isn’t a Venn diagram. In fact, Jones thoroughly narrates how these two identities can be a circle. Curious? Start with her post “What do dogs have do to with race?” and stay for the lessons about breeds and how to be a judgment-free advocate.
Christine Kim of My Dog Is My Home
Why we admire this work: Acknowledgement that pets are home
Based in Lenape and Canarsie lands, also known as Queens, NY, Christine Kim founded “My Dog Is My Home” (MDIMH). This national nonprofit organization helps people with companion animals stay together while they experience homelessness by servicing and supporting existing organizations. Through this mission, Kim provides an avenue where individuals don’t have to choose to part with a loved one. Instead, they can maintain the relationships that have been most helpful to their wellbeing, while building a home.
Storytelling is at the heart of MDIMH's #coshelteringconference2023. Hear directly from people with lived experience on how keeping people and animals together in shelter and housing contributes to an end to homelessness. Learn more and register at https://t.co/cIqCKhezKV. pic.twitter.com/zaBL9fpdzW
— My Dog Is My Home (@mydogismyhome) February 25, 2023
The core values of MDIMH also resonate with Kim’s time working in supportive housing—and this compassion shines through their FAQ page. Written with empathy for people facing systemic barriers, MDIMH shines a light around the importance of equity in pet care and parenthood.
Maureen Backman, MS of The Muzzle Up! Project
Why we admire this work: Advocacy through a compassionate lens for dogs and their parents
From debunking breed stereotypes to positive reinforcement becoming the standard for dog training, dog advocacy has come a long way since the rise of social media. Right in the lead with this evolution is Marueen Backman, MS, CTC, PCT-A, private dog trainer, and founding director of The Muzzle Up! Project. Muzzle Up! debunks myths about muzzles and drives awareness around dog behavior and safety.
Backman created this project to educate people about the benefits of the muzzle. It’s not just about preventing bites. The muzzle is a powerful communication and management tool that signals how much a pet parent cares about the wellbeing of their dog. Check out pet parent stories on Instagram to learn how a muzzle transformed their dog’s life.
Note: Since 2019, Backman is no longer running Muzzle Up! Project but she’s left the resource in the very capable hands of Michael Shikashio and team.
Taylor Barconey & Jiovany Alcaide of Smart Bitch Training
Why we admire this work: Empowering pet parents with no-nonsense, force-free training
Taylor Barconey and Jiovany Alcaide of Smart Bitch Training are authentic role models for dog parents everywhere. Embracing their ambition and passion for dogs, these trainers look to push back against the old school, male-dominated, ‘alpha’ style of dog training. Rejecting the idea that positive reinforcement is “soft”, Taylor and Jiovany have leaned into their smarts and hearts to harness kindness in every human-dog relationship.
And it’s not just talk. Taylor and Jiovany are professional fear-free trainers, animal behavior consultants, and handlers of aggression in dogs. These certifications highlight the hours and years of research, practice, and training knowledge Smart Bitch leans into when they advocate for the nuanced personalities of each dog—and human. We particularly enjoy their video that highlights the behavioral change overtime when you comfort a scared dog.
Christine Chang of Sassy Woof
Why we admire this work: Inspirational role model for creative business entrepreneurs everywhere
Back in 2018, Christine Chang launched Sassy Woof out of her home’s basement with just six patterns and a few rope leashes. Fast forward close to five years and Sassy Woof is now a national brand offering dozens of collections and rope options that can be found in many retailers such as PetSmart, Petco, Walmart, or online at Chewy. Christine’s ethos around community is also seen through Sassy Woof’s approach to production. To ensure quality and safety, products go through an independent lab for testing.
Christine’s passion to give you and your pet the colorful, visionary lifestyle also aligns with her background story. As the daughter of Vietnamese parents who wanted the best for her, Christine has built Sassy Woof with the same values of respect, inclusivity, and love. To date, Sassy Woof has supported over 25 nonprofit organizations—all while making dogs everywhere look like Instagram-ready superstars.
Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, DVM
Why we admire this work: Dedication to pet safety narratives and educating pet parents globally
In an industry where practice owners are more likely to be male, Dr. Rebecca Greenstein has owned her own practice since 2018. Under her ownership as Chief Veterinarian, Kleinburg Veterinary Hospital has won awards for their care and service to the pet parent community. From 2019 to 203, Kleinburg Veterinary Hospital was also awarded Top Choice Veterinary Clinic in Vaughan, Ontario.
You may have seen Dr. Rebecca’s name around in the news, especially around holiday seasons when safety concerns are at an all-time high. In fact, at Rover, we value her expertise so much, she is a core member of our Pet People Panel to ensure we are providing accurate information to pet parents everywhere.
Shelby E. McDonald, PhD
Why we admire this work: Highlighting the importance of animal companionships among underserved groups
Currently the Director of Community Research and Evaluation at the Denver Zoological Foundation, Shelby E. McDonald is an award-winning researcher who studies human-animal bonds and interactions. In her prior roles as Associate Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and Director of Research at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Shelby has published quantitative and qualitative studies on a variety of topics such as improving access to pet care in underserved communities.
Dialogue / programmatic solutions pertaining to #AccesstoVeterinaryCare are increasing. Access to hygiene-related care/supplies is essential for maintaining #PetHealth, yet grooming + related topics are often ignored in #AVC conversations. Our new study explores this topic⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Wj7WbL8oJW
— 𝗗𝗿. 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗯𝘆 𝗘. 𝗠𝗰𝗗𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗱 (@DrShelbyMcD) October 12, 2022
We’re excited about her on-going work on the impact of human-animal interactions on the stress and resilience of youth with minoritized sexual and gender identities. This is about the future pet parents of the world, after all—and we’re ecstatic that a researcher like Shelby is prioritizing how to support them.
Darby Peachman of @myanimalplanets
Why we admire this work: Showcasing the full narrative behind training and advocating for service animals
For our round up, we are excited to highlight Darby of @myanimalplanets. When it comes to relationships with pets, you won’t find stronger advocates of a dog’s needs than a parent of a service dog. Darby Peachman, a dog handler with multiple disabilities, spends a lot of time creating educational content about the emotional and mental health of service dogs.
What we also love about Darby’s account is the full transparency approach she brings to the conversation. From advocating for force-free training to support her dogs’ mental health to showing people how to interact with service dogs, Darby sets perfect boundaries while giving us (and herself) realistic expectations.
Give her a follow to learn about the pet parent reality of having a service dog—and a retired one.
Ava Dorsey of Ava’s Pet Palace
Why we admire this work: An accomplished model of youthful passion, community, and dedication
Ava Dorsey is a young, Black entrepreneur who started her pet treat business at eight years young. From homemade treats in her kitchen to the shelves of Target, Ava is an inspirational leader. She’s had to overcome challenges that many of us adults are also familiar with, from advocating for herself to be taken seriously to balancing work, personal life, and school. Despite this, Ava’s passion for pets and her business, Ava’s Pet Palace, hasn’t waned.
In fact, her passion has grown as she builds a giving back program within the company. Each month she picks a rescue or organization, based on recommendations from her supporters, to donate a percentage of sales (or treats) to. This is one entrepreneur we’ll keep our eyes on as we can’t wait to see how she continues to make a difference in the pet world—and our world.
Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado, PhD of Feline Minds
Why we admire this work: Furthering pet parents bond and communication skills, especially with cats
All cats need an advocate—and there’s no stronger advocate for cats than Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado. As an expert on our Pet People Panel, Mikel continues to demystify kitten and cat behaviors, fighting against stereotypes all through a compassionate lens. The more we learn about kitten behaviors, from developmental to social, has a lot to do with Mikel’s on-going research and active engagement with cat enthusiasts.
We especially appreciate Mikel’s commitment to being accessible. She continues to actively update her blog “What your cat wants” with rich insights into the latest studies and behind-the-scenes looks into her work. If there’s a cat question, we know Mikel has the answer!