World's Largest NO-KILL
Animal Rescue
and Adoption Organization

Faces of the League

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At North Shore Animal League America, we are fortunate to have a team of passionate individuals dedicated to helping us further our life-saving mission to rescue, nurture and adopt all animals in need. These individuals are our biggest asset, and a big part of how the Animal League came to be the largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization. Below are just a few of our shining stars!

Ikumi Nakajima: Mutt-i-grees Coordinator Making A Difference

It’s been said to choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. For Ikumi Nakajima, Mutt-i-grees Outreach Coordinator at North Shore Animal League America, this well-known proverb couldn’t ring more true. Every morning when he makes the five-minute walk from his apartment in the heart of Port Washington to Animal League America’s campus on Lewyt Street, he can’t help but to have a slight pep in his step.
Learn more about Ikumi

Robert & Cathy Kothe: Volunteers, Foster Parents, Guinness World Record Holders

There’s no question the differences between feline fanatics and canine enthusiasts are ever present, but Robert and Cathy Kothe, devoted foster parents at North Shore Animal League America, are quite the anomaly.
“There are times when we have five dogs in the house at once, but it all comes in ebbs and flows when you are a foster parent at an organization which takes in so many animals in need,” Robert said. He and his wife began fostering dogs for our organization back in June of 2014. Since then, they’ve provided temporary homes for 21 dogs, including Zeta, their first foster, who they wound up adopting. “We definitely consider ourselves “dog people,” but there’s something very ironic about that....”
Learn more about Robert & Cathy

Eileen Hertwig: Pawing It Forward Since 2014

Fourteen years ago, Eileen Hertwig adopted a German Shepherd mix puppy from North Shore Animal League America and named the handsome ball of fur, Rex. The unconditional love that Rex brought in to her life was so comforting that she decided to adopt another puppy three years later. This time she opened her heart and her home to an adorable lab mix named Cece. The two pups, now 14 and 11 years old, flooded Eileen’s life with so much happiness that she decided to give back to the organization that paired her with the pooches.
Learn more about Eileen

Patricia Rome: Volunteer Since 2013 and Dog Walker Extraordinaire.

When her second daughter went away to college in 2013, Patricia Rome was feeling the effects of a condition all too many parents experience when their children venture away from home for the first time; empty nest syndrome. Though not a clinical condition, Patricia knew she needed something to lift her spirits and take her mind off missing her kids. “I came across the North Shore Animal League America website one day while I was home and I sort of took that as a sign. I was missing my daughters and feeling like I needed something to fill that void, so I went down to the volunteer open house,” Patricia said. “The rest is history.”
Learn more about Patricia

Natalie Gmuca: From Teen Volunteer to Grad Student Making a Difference for Our Mutt-i-grees®

When Natalia Gmuca was just 16 years old, she was compelled to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. Being an animal lover, she decided the best way to do that was sign up to be a volunteer at one of the places that specialize in such feats – North Shore Animal League America.
Now 23, the Queens resident is still making the drive every Friday evening to our Port Washington, N.Y. campus to care for all of the dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens that count on her and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers.
Learn more about Natalie

Lauraine Merlini: From World Famous Local Zoo to World's Largest No-Kill Rescue and Adoption Organization

As a child, North Shore Animal League America’s Senior Volunteer Manager, Lauraine Merlini, always thought growing up within walking distance from the Bronx Zoo was always just an awesome perk. The Bronx, N.Y. native recalled taking countless trips to the world-famous zoo with her father from their home on Rhinelander Avenue, but never thought those trips would inspire her to turn that passion for animals into a successful career in animal welfare.
Learn more about Lauraine

Manuel Aguirre: Port Washington Native Finds His Calling

Whether it’s working hands on with the hundreds of animals we house, or enhancing their lives in a variety of other ways, each and every person who works at North Shore Animal League America does so for the same reason – supporting the mission to rescue, nurture, and adopt homeless animals in need. One of those dedicated individuals is local resident, Manuel Aguirre, who began his journey as a wide-eyed 15-year-old kennel associate just trying to make some extra money doing something that would hold his interest. Fifteen years later, he's become an essential part of the organization’s daily operations.
Learn more about Manuel

Dr. Mark Verdino: From Wall Street to Woof Street

For a young man growing up in a family steeped in a lineage of Wall Street professionals and aspirations to follow in their footsteps seemed like a storybook timeline. But not for North Shore Animal League America’s Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff, Dr. Mark Verdino. It didn’t take long for him to realize that a life of cash-flow statements, profit projections and financial reports would never provide the sense of fulfillment he desired from his life’s work.
Learn more about Dr. Verdino

Yasuko Yamaguchi: A Life of Animal Rescue

There are millions of animal lovers out there who make their beloved pets, and all animals for that matter, a top priority. But there’s one Port Washington resident who embodies everything Animal League America stands for - Yasuko Yamaguchi. Mrs. Yamaguchi has dedicated 30 years to rescuing stray cats and kittens in desperate need of loving homes and has been a member of our Board of Directors since 2012.
Learn more about Mrs. Yamaguchi

Ronny Martorelli: Ensuring Adopted Animals Get the Second Chance they Deserve

As manager of our Quality Care and Control Department, Ronny Martorelli and his team spend most of their days on the road checking in on all of the animals that were adopted from Animal League America, making sure they are living safe, happy, and fulfilled lives with their new families.
Learn more about Ronny


Fran Matinale & Bonnie Katz: The Dynamic Duo

Often referred to as the Lucy and Ethel of Animal League America because of their inseparable ways and lively demeanors, Bonnie and Fran began their journeys as Volunteers just a month apart from one another back in 2008. Since meeting during a fateful encounter in the Puppy Room, the veteran Volunteers have been using their upbeat personalities and unbridled passion for animal rescue to enrich the lives of our shelter pets each time they don their red shirts for a shift.
Learn more about Fran & Bonnie


Patricia Newill: A Life of Service Spanning 40 years

Patricia began volunteering at North Shore Animal League America in 2011. Now retired, she was looking for something productive to do that would get her out of the house a few days a week, when a neighbor told her about Animal League America, and it all clicked. Since that day, Patricia has been continuing to live a life of service that she began more than 40 years ago.
Learn more about Patricia


Kathy & Tom Myatt: Volunteers Paying Forward a Legacy of Love

Kathy Myatt and her husband Tom wanted to do something special when their beloved North Shore Animal League America Mutt-i-gree® passed away in 2012. So, to honor Reggie, formally known around Animal League America as Matrix, the couple decided they would volunteer their time at the organization that provided them with the pets that would supply years of love and countless memories.
Learn more about Kathy & Tom


Gloria Quay: A Veteran Volunteer Since 2007

This veteran volunteer, who started her selfless journey shortly after recovering from a triumphant battle with cancer, has contributed in so many areas around our Port Washington campus and on various off-site events that she should be referred to as the Swiss Army Knife of the Volunteer Program.
Learn more about Gloria


Chris Miller: The League's Own Jack of All Trades

For the last 34 years, Chris Miller has been known for her tireless work ethic and unwavering passion for the Animal League’s no-kill mission. Since 2000, Chris has been stationed in the rescue/intake building, better known as The Lewyt Ark, but the odds of finding her in the office would be that of hitting the lottery.
Learn more about Chris


Erica Knors: A Life in Animal Rescue

For Erica Knors, Assistant Pet Behavior Manager at the Animal League, a life of animal rescue is something that comes as naturally as breathing. “Rescue, Nurture, Adopt,” isn’t just a slogan to her, it’s been a lifestyle since she was a young grade school student growing up in Marietta, Georgia. So, when it came time to decide what she wanted to do with her life, continuing to embrace her passion for animals was the only logical choice.
Learn more about Erica


Kate Haslbauer: Volunteers Making a Difference

Volunteers like Kate Haslbauer make a true difference in the lives of adoptable shelter pets. Her tireless drive to pair felines with the perfect adopters, and her budding enthusiasm for the position makes her one of our featured faces here at the Animal League. You’d be hard pressed to find a single contemporary or manager of Kate’s who doesn’t use the adjectives “positive,” “hardworking,” and “passionate” when describing the senior volunteer.
Learn more about Kate


Marilyn McKaie: Fostering Hope at North Shore Animal League America

For Marilyn McKaie, one of our long-time Foster Parents here at North Shore Animal League America, her selfless nature and compassionate demeanor helped her overcome a difficult time in her life. That, in turn, gave her the motivation to follow her passion for fostering and rehabilitating animals in need.
Learn more about Marilyn