Meet the Staff



Every day dogs rush into the doors of Pawtropolis, never looking back at their owners. They are excited and absolutely love being here. Owners tell us that the dogs know the way to Pawtropolis and start going crazy when the make the turn onto our road. Why is this? Well, though the paw prints on the walls are cute and the floors always get cleaned and sanitized and we have a catchy name...it's the employees of Pawtropolis that create an environment that brings the dogs in, tails wagging, every time. We thought you would like a chance to meet the team that are many of your dogs' best friends.

Just who is taking care of your pets?

All animal caretakers are required to complete the Pawtropolis Training Program. This program is designed to help them learn about animal care, dog behavior, pack behavior, emergency procedures, discipline procedures and more.

Because the health of your pets is of up most concern, we also encourage employees to participate in the American Pet First Aid Class. This class goes into far more details than our program here. It even offers participants a chance to practice CPR on dummy dogs. This is an amazing program that is also offered to the public. We have a large percentage of our staff that are Red Cross Pet First Aid certified.




MEET THE OWNERS!
Amanda, John, Evelyn, Grayson & Lydia Crook

After obtaining a degree from the University of Georgia, Amanda began the process of opening Pawtropolis. Her dream came true grand opening day December 1st, 2001. John came on board full time after they got married in 2008 and has become an invaluable asset to Pawtropolis. They welcomed daughter Evelyn July 2012 and twins Grayson and Lydia September 2014.

Amanda has been doing training and competitive obedience since age 15. She continues to do obedience, placing multiple titles on her own dogs as well as others she trains. Her training style is to incorporate and learn about as many techniques as she can so that she can find what will work best for each individual dog. Rescuing a dominant dog with aggression problems herself, Amanda has a special love for dogs with behavioral problems. This "aggressive" dog became the sweet lovable Dalmatian Tyler that before passing away greeted everyone at the door of Pawtropolis.

Amanda & Pawtropolis are industry leaders, using her over 22 years experience to create one of the top doggie daycares around. Many doggie daycares are run by people that have tried various other business ventures and think, "this would be fun." Amanda on the other hand had Pawtropolis as her goal from the very beginning. Unlike many facilities, Pawtropolis focuses strongly on educating staff on dog and pack behavior. They're not just thrown into playgroups and told to supervise. Staff receive over 20 training shifts and even then can only supervise under the leadership of another staff member. Knowing dog behavior like they do, Pawtropolis animal caretakers ensure the safest playgroups possible. Amanda even gets paid to consult other kennels all over the United States. She wants to use her expertise to help other doggie daycare owners be successful and keep all dogs safe. Take a look at her consulting services here: www.doggiedaycareconsulting.com.

Amanda currently owns three rescue dogs; Kenzie (Dalmatian), Heidi (Chihuahua) and Jersey (standard poodle.) Her current dogs have ranked as high as the top 5 in their breeds. Her Chihuahua was even invited to compete in the American Kennel Club Invitationals in 2013. Amanda had obtained over 45 obedience and agility titles but prides herself most in the work she does in rehabiliting and rehoming the dogs of Helping Paws Rescue. Visit Amanda's Dogs in Competition page to see fun videos of her dogs competing.



Tara

TARA HELWIG
October 2010
Westside Kennel Manager

Tara was actually friends with Amanda prior to working at Pawtropolis. She is a fellow dog agility addict. Her 9.5 year old pug, Paqui, has multiple accomplishments, including two MACH titles (Master Agility Champion), participation in the AKC Invitational for the past three years (which is only open to the top 5 dogs of each breed), and she has ranked among the top five in Pug Club for four years! She's earned not only several AKC agility titles but USDAA as well. Her 10.5 year old pug Gavin was the top agility pug in Jumpers in 2014! Her third pug, Bonnie, tends to act more like a pug than her siblings and prefers to lounge around and cheer from the sidelines. Tara also has one non-pug, Emmy, who has multiple agility titles!

Tara has always loved working with the "pack" at Pawtropolis, and since she became our Kennel Manager, she has been able to mold our staff to match her enthusiasm. She loves to work with our more insecure daycare dogs and she does everything she can to make sure that each dog trusts her and feels comfortable in the environment.

Dogs aren't her only passion, Tara graduated from Berry College in 2007 with a B.A. in Spanish. She's taught Spanish at Cedar Shoals High School for a few years. However, her passion for dogs and Pawtropolis has made the Kennel Manager position perfect for her.

Bonnie

BONNIE BERRY
August 2014
Eastside Kennel Manager

Bonnie worked at Pawtropolis back in 2006 while pursuing an undergraduate degree in Animal Science and Biology at UGA. In 2007, she took a break from work to focus on her studies and worked as a Research Professional in a conservation genetics lab after graduation. She returned to us in the fall of 2014 and took no time fitting back in and being an obvious leader. She became the Eastside Kennel Manager fall of 2016.

Bonnie grew up around all types of animals and she has always felt a strong connection with dogs and horses. She competed in eventing with her horses until moving to Athens for college and plans to return to riding in the near future. Bonnie owns a small farm in Madison county where she and her partner, Mike live with their four dogs, Odin (an aussie mix), Hope (a yellow lab), Wookie (a chihuahua mix) and Flower (a husky), four cats and six chickens. She is very passionate about animal rescue, taking an active role in Helping Paws Rescue. Bonnie loves working at Pawtropolis because everyday is an opportunity to learn more about dog behavior. She hopes to eventually become a certified dog trainer that specializes in rehabilitating fearful and reactive dogs.




SARA BETH PINSON
May 2006
Director of Staff Hiring and Development

Sara Beth has worked with companion pets for more than 15 years and has been involved with Pawtropolis in one capacity or another for the majority of the last 10 years. Along the way, she earned BSAs in Avian Biology and Biological Science and a PhD in Avian Biology. She is delighted to return to a full-time career where she gets to spend every day with well-loved pets.

She has been training her personal and foster dogs for more than 10 years and in recent years started training clients and their dogs. She is a trainer at heart and enjoys working with dogs in playgroups, talking to their owners about everything we are doing to enrich their dogs’ lives, and training other animal caretakers how to successfully manage playgroups.She currently teaches agility classes at Canine Capers Agility Club and has plans to teach some trick dog workshops at Pawtropolis. She is a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor through Do More with Your Dog. She is always expanding her understanding of animal behavior and training by reading books and articles, listening to podcasts, and attending seminars.

Sara Beth lives in Atlanta with her husband Andrew and 3 rescue dogs Bailey, Icey (adopted from Helping Paws Rescue in 2008!), and Nimbus. She enjoys training all of them for a variety of activities and has earned agility, coursing, and trick dog titles on all 3 dogs and CGC, advanced CGC, and therapy dog certifications with Icey. Bailey and Icey have mostly retired from canine sports while Nimbus trains for agility, disc, tricks, and dock diving (and anything else that he can convince Sara Beth to try!). Every day is an exciting new adventure with Nimbus!

Sara Beth's philosophy is that animal ownership should be a fun and enriching experience for humans and animals alike. She considers it a privilege to work at Pawtropolis and help owners provide the best care possible for their pets.



Shane

SHANE ALLEN
October 2007
Facilities Operations Assistant & Playgroup Management Specialist
Obedience Instructor

Shane has been working at Pawtropolis since 2007. He received his Dog Obedience Trainer accreditation from Animal Behavior College in 2009. His passion is dog behavior and enjoys working especially with the dogs in playgroups that have challenging temperaments. Shane also likes working with new staff, teaching them how to appropriately manage playgroups, keeping everyone safe and happy. He teaches the Companion Skills training class and offers private lessons as well. A man of many talents, Shane also helps owner John to keep the facilities in tip-top shape.

He has two daughters, Arianna and Alexa and enjoys spending time with them as well. He is pictured here with his dog, Phoenix. He also owns a Golden Retriever named Leo. His favorite things include: training dogs (of course), relaxing in a hammock, and napping in a hammock :-)



Amber

AMBER BLAND
September 2009
Office Manager

After Amber graduated from college we were afraid we had lost her to a new career. Fortunately she decided that Pawtropolis is where she wanted to be. Amber became our Westside Front Office Administrator in the fall of 2015. She helps to ensure we are always providing the highest level of customer service possible and makes sure the front office staff has everything they need to effectively work. She fit into that position so well, we decided to promote her to our Office Manager in the fall of 2016!

In May of 2016, Amber married her long-time Pawtropolis co-worker, Daniel. In October of the same year, they welcomed their first child, a beautiful baby girl by the name of Amelia Kenzlee. We couldn’t be happier to add to our Pawtropolis family!

She is pictured here with one of her dogs Jasper. He is a big goofy lovable lab. She also has a feisty westie named Dixie and her new husband came with a handsome pitt mix named Tonka! Amber has really enjoyed learning as much as she can about dogs and dog behavior. She is definitely an asset to the Pawtropolis staff and we hope to have her as part of the team for years to come.

 





ALLISON SEARS
May 2016
Assistant Office Manager

Allison began working with us in May of 2016. She came with excellent experience from working in the Veterinary Medicine field for over ten years! She grew up with animals and knew she wanted to be a vet when she was very young. However, she has since found her calling in Social Work and non-profits, helping both people and animals

Allison jokingly calls her home a “zoo” seeing as it is occupied by two dogs, (a shih tzu name Ziggy Marley and a beagle named Gracie Lu) and five cats (including two six month old brothers named Tom and Jerry). Despite the fact that she owns several of her own animals, Allison is also an active foster home for multiple local rescue groups.

After making the decision to leave the veterinary medical field, Pawtropolis was the perfect place for her. She wanted to work with animals where she could also become close with their owners, an experience she had been missing at her last job. We couldn’t be happier to have her here with us!

Some fun facts about Allison are: she once met a National Treasure of China (an 11 year old contortionist), she paints glass to make it look like stained glass artwork, and she used to hold the state record for the 50 yard backstroke in the 11-12 age group.

 



Alison

ALISON WILBANKS
January 2008
Groomer
City Council Member

Alson has been Pawtropolis's head Pet Stylist since January '08. She is the full-time groomer at the Westside location. Previously she attended the International Academy of Pet Design in Alpharetta, GA. Then she worked for a year in the Sandy Springs area. The three years before beginning at Pawtropolis Alison lived and groomed in Asheville, NC. She has experience with all breeds and does a wonderful job. She lives here in the Watkinsville area with her husband, 2 wonderful sons and her furry baby Zeus.

She is by far the best groomer we've had in terms of her grooming skills as well as her customer service and her talent at working with even hard to handle or stressed dogs. She is high demand during the hair cutting season, booking out several weeks in advance.



Margo

MARGO FORTUNE
April 2014
Animal Caretaker

Margo started working at Pawtropolis while she was still in high school. She has always been a dog and people person and so working at Pawtropolis is perfect for her! She loves interacting with all the different dogs here and getting to personally assure our clients that their dogs are happy and well taken care of when they stay with us. She also enjoys fostering for Helpings Paws Rescue and finding her fosters great furever homes! She even kept her last foster for two years before placing him in an amazing home!

Despite her youth, Margo has plenty of experience taking care of dogs. She has 2 dogs herself, a beagle named Sammie (pictured here) and an Akita mix named Yeager, and she used to run her own pet-sitting business from her home when she was only 11 years old. She also recently fell in love with and adopted an adorable Mexican Hairless dog!

Dogs are not Margo's only love in life. As a musician and a writer, she has lots to do in her spare time. She hopes to be an author one day, but I’m sure that she will always have a passion for our four-legged friends!

Some fun facts about Margo are: she can play multiple instruments (including saxophone, guitar, bass, trumpet, and flute), she used to be the lead singer in a punk rock band, and she enjoys drawing creative cartoons based on her adventures at Pawtropolis!





Tamela

TAMELA BOYD
January 2006
Front Desk
Obedience Instructor

Tamela is the lead instructor for a couple of our training classes. She also does many of our private lessons. Tamela's personal dog Skoochie (aussie pictured here) has her Rally Novice title and is currently competing to earn her Rally Advanced. Tamela is a school teacher who began her training road by taking a Pawtropolis Basic Obedience class almost 5 years ago with her oober dominant dog, Skoochy. After that, she took the advanced class offered at Pawtropolis. At the end of that class she was not finished learning and it was summer time, so she applied for a job at Pawtropolis and continued learning while working with the daycare dogs. When school started back, she began assisting Amanda Rodriguez with her obedience class and private lessons.

Fast forward to now, and she's taken over the obedience class AND the private lessons. Tamela says she's learned as much about dog behavior from the dogs at Pawtropolis and her own private pack, as she has from her formal training. Her style of training can be best described as 'whatever works'. She evaluates each person and their dog to determine the best route to eliminating unwanted behavior and fostering manners. Tamela has successfully helped that stubborn dog of hers, Skoochy, earn an advanced Rally title and has plans to earn a CD title next.

 



Montana

MONTANA PERRY
September 2014
Animal Caretaker & Shift Leader

Montana joined the Pawtropolis Pack in September 2014 after graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Apparel Merchandising and a minor in Business. She loves working with the dogs but also excells in customer service. From the second she was hired she has fit right in here. Her favorite part of working at Pawtropolis is getting the pups nice and clean before pick up and working on behavior management.  We hope to have have her as part of the Pawtropolis team for a very long time.

When she isn’t working she loves travelling and has been all over Europe including: Ireland, Holland, Switzerland. She is pictured with her newly adopted beagle mix, Charlette.  



Kirsten

KIRSTEN MOORE
August 2015
Eastside Assistant Kennel Manager


Kirsten's life has always revolved around animals, especially dogs. As a kid, her and her mom rescued a short, stubby beagle they named Sabrina. It was the bond she and Sabrina had that has lead her into the life she has chosen today, specifically being involved in rescue and fostering. From that early of an age, Kirsten always knew that her ultimate goal was to be a part of something special. Making a difference and offering a chance to a better life for animals is "what its all about" Kirsten says.

Having fun and seeking adventure is also a big part of Kirsten's life, which is another reason why we love having her at Pawtropolis. She's always making light of any situation and having her around is guarantee for a good time! When Kirsten started working with us in August of 2015, we knew she was going to be an exciting addition due to her ever-changing hair color! She is absolutely amazing with our clients, and even better the dogs. There isn't an area where Kirsten doesn't excel. Her skills in working with fearful, anxious, or troubled dogs is really where she shines. We've also seen her training skills with our fosters come to be quite impressive. All the wonderful things about Kirsten is why she has recently been promoted to Assistant Kennel Manager at our Eastside location!!

Aside from all things dog, Kirsten's hobbies include shopping, traveling and most of all going to car events and tending to her beloved BMW.  Her secondary passion are BMWs. From Hot Wheels to the 3, three ton cars that occupy her driveway Kirsten and her partner are constantly upgrading, fixing and adding more to their collection. If you don't see Kirsten at Pawtropolis for a few days, it's probably because she's out spectating a drifting event or at a car show admiring all the hard work and passion of local owners. We assume her love for German engineering derived from her time spent living in Germany. Just adding more to the awesomeness of Kirsten, during her time there she traveled all over Europe, picked up the language pretty fluently, and adopted her current dog Shotzee, an English Cocker Spaniel, whom she is pictured with here. She also has a Golden Retriever named Enzo (after Enzo Ferrari) and a Flemish Giant bunny named Rocket Bunny (named after a car company).

We love having Kirsten as a part of our team here at Pawtropolis and hope to have her for many more years! 



Lydia

LYDIA ELLINGTON
August 2015
Animal Caretaker & Shift Leader
Customer Service

Lydia joined the Pawtropolis Pack in August 2015. She has a long history of working with dogs, as her family showed and bred Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.  She has shown 2 of her personal Swissys (Rosie and Lola) to Grand Championships, has attended Eukanuba 3 times and even made it to the Group Owner/Handler. Her dog Rosie is CGC and Therapy Dog Certified and she holds a title in lure coursing.  Lola holds a Superior Weight-Pull Title (this girl has pulled over 3000 pounds!!).  Annie, her 10 year old Chihuahua, is well versed in tricks. Having her vast experience with training dogs makes her a natural fit here at Pawtropolis. She not only is great with group management but also recognizing the needs of each individual dog in our care.

Her favorite part of working at Pawtropolis is working with and molding behaviors and then discussing it with owners.  She hopes to return to college and pursue a Veterinary Medicine Degree or become a well-respected dog trainer in the area. She is pictured with one of her daycare favorites, Trooper, an Australian Cattle Dog.



Daniel

DANIEL BOYD
August 2014
Animal Caretaker & Shift Leader

Daniel rejoined the Pawtropolis Pack in August 2014, but has been a Pack Member on and off since fall 2005, when he was just 15. I think Pawtropolis will allows hold a special place in his heart as he will always be special to us.  He is currently a student at the University of North Georgia studying Engineering and is set to transfer to Georgia Tech in 2017 where he will earn a degree in Aerospace Engineering.

His favorite parts of working at Pawtropolis include: gaining the trust of dogs who are generally fearful of men, supervising he dogs and learning/utilizing existing dog knowledge through it, and helping dogs become well rounded through physical and mental stimulation.  When he isn’t in playgroup with the German Shorthair Pointers or the Labs he spends his time doing home improvements and woodworking.  He is pictured here with his dog Tonka.



Jamie

JAMIE RITTER
July 2014
Animal Caretaker & Shift Leader
City Council Member

Jamie joined the Pawtropolis Pack in July 2014 after she relocated to Athens from Pullman, Washington. She grew up in the outskirts of Seattle and then moved to eastern Washington to attend college. She graduated from the Washington State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology and a minor in Film Studies.

Jamie came on board with a wonderful attitude and eagerness to learn. Her organizational skills and professionalism made her an obvious choice for both our Shift Leader and City Council positions. Her favorite part of working at Pawtropolis is working with the pitty bulls. She excels at behavior management and working with fearful dogs. Her love for the pitties isn’t just daycare based, she owns Cobalt and Xenon, both pit mixes. She also has a kitty with a case of torti-tude, named Jinger.




ASHLEY SEWELL
August 2012 & January 2016
Animal Caretaker & Shift Leader

Ashley originally began working at Pawtropolis in 2012. We were all very sad when she left us to move on to other opportunities, and we jumped for joy when she contacted us saying that she wanted to come back! Ashley rejoined the Pawtropolis Pack in January 2016 and we couldn’t be happier!

Ashley is hoping to gain a degree in Vet Technology and work at a zoo (unless we can keep her here.) Her favorite part about working at Pawtropolis is developing personal relationships with each of the dogs in her care, she loves learning little tid bits about each of them.  She has a very calming demeanor that the dogs respond well to and she is a wonderful asset to our staff! When she isn’t working she is an avid gamer and loves going on hikes with her own dogs, Lillie (a cattledog X) and Sawyer (a lab X). She is also a foster home for a large number of cats that she enjoys taking care of and finding forever homes for!

Some fun facts about Ashley are: she has had up to 19 foster cats at one time, she’s seen every episode of Friends and the Office at least five times, and her dream dog is a Leonberger!

 




BILLY WATERS
May 2016
Animal Caretaker

Billy joined the Pawtropolis crew just this year in May. Already he is proving himself to be a wonderful addition with his laid-back personality and upbeat attitude! The dogs respond very well to him (even though he is a guy!), especially our German Shepherd clients, which Billy has a natural affinity for! He has his own GSD named Apollo, who facilitated his love for the breed.

He is a sophomore at the University of North Georgia and is in their Pre-Vet program. When he needed work, his passion for dogs made Pawtropolis the obvious choice. His favorite part of the job is supervising playgroups, where he spends his time getting to know each dog personally and making sure that they are comfortable with him. His favorite dogs to see include Kaiser, a German Shepherd, and Max, a Border Collie. He is pictured here with Portia and Max!.  

When he isn’t spending time working with the shepherds and border collies in daycare, Billy enjoys playing basketball with his friends (which isn’t surprising since he’s so tall!) and watching Netflix.

Some fun facts about Billy are: he is an NFL trivia master, his favorite TV show is “The Office”, and he has been afraid of puppets since he was a child.



MADDIE SWAB
May 2016
Animal Caretaker & Shift Leader

Maddie has been surrounded by the joy of rescue dogs ever since she was a baby! This has given her quite a soft spot for helping dogs in need, which has grown into helping people in need by raising guide dogs. She began in her sophomore year at the University of Georgia with a black lab puppy named Navarro, who she raised for the first fifteen months of his life. Her job while raising him was to socialize and train him in basic obedience. Once he was fifteen months old, he went off to become an official guide dog and help people who are blind or have other disabilities. He is now two years old and had convinced Maddie from the start that she wanted to work with guide dogs for the rest of her life! Maddie is also a local group leader for the GDF, so she not only raises her own guide dogs, but she helps the “raisers” in her group address any medical or behavioral concerns with their dogs.

In order to better help people, Maddie is also a fourth year at UGA studying Social Work. Her dream is to continue being involved with a guide or service dog school, specifically in the graduate services department, helping guide or service dog handlers with anything they need post-graduation for their new dog. She loves seeing the independence and companionship that guide dogs offer the people they are paired with.

Maddie joined the Pawtropolis pack in May of 2016. Ever since she began working with the GDF she has wanted to have a job with dogs, and here seemed to be the perfect place to not only spend lots of time with pups, but also continuously learn about dog language and behavior. She loves working with some of the more difficult dogs in daycare, figuring out what works for them and how to help everyone in playgroup have the best time possible. She also enjoys discovering new breeds, like the Bracco Italiano. When she has spare time between Pawtropolis and the GDF, Maddie enjoys baking, reading, and watching a lot of Netflix.

Some fun facts about Maddie are: She’s been to four out of seven continents (North America, South America, Europe, and Asia) and her goal is to visit all seven, when she was young she memorized 365 dog breeds in alphabetical order, and one of her favorite hobbies is entering contests on Instagram to win things for her pups (such as a year’s supply of poop bags!)

 





Annie

ANNIE ECONOMOS
June 2014
PAW Crew
(Pawtropolis Auxiliary Workers)

Annie joined the Pawtropolis Pack in June 2014.  She is a recently local girl, but spent her childhood travelling the world with her Mom who is 20 year veteran of the US Air Force. Because of her Military family background Annie has lived all over the world including: Germany, England, and Italy.  When Annie isn’t loving on the Huskies or the German Shepherds in playgroup, you can find her running around Athens with her husband and two adorable children, Marley and Michael. Her favorite parts about working at Pawtropolis are: the fun environment and playing with the large breed pups.  Annie is such a light of happiness and positivity and we are beyond lucky to have her on staff.

She is pictured here with her Husky/Shepherd Mix, Hunter.



Josh

JOSH SMITH
October 2015
PAW Crew
(Pawtropolis Auxiliary Workers)

Who's that young man that always has a smile on his face? It's Josh. Josh joined the Pawtropolis Pack in October 2015. He is studying Finance at the University of Georgia and is on track to graduate in 2018. His favorite part of being a member of our Paw Crew is being able to play and romp around with the dogs.

When he isn’t at work, he is a champion napper and eater and loves hitting the gym. He is always so happy and smiling every time he is working, and we love having him as a part of the team!