Heather Owen


Heather Owen co-founded One Tail at a Time in 2008 while attending law school. She helped run the organization while practicing litigation in Cook County until 2015. That year she left her career to help One Tail open the Adoption Center and begin to reach its potential. Since then she has served as the Executive Director where she has been passionate about implementing progressive programming to address the problem of needless euthanasia. Heather is passionate about social justice, good books, and finding the best veggie tacos in the city. She is almost always accompanied by her One Tail alum and adventure buddy Trout.

Kerry Panzone


Kerry Panzone has worked in various shelters in the Chicagoland area for the past 14 years. In her most recent position as Rescue Coordinator for an Animal Control shelter, she worked with dozens of rescue groups in the area and decided One Tail at a Time was the one she wanted to become more involved with. Kerry started out as an OTAT foster home, then joined the associate board, and now runs our intake and foster programs! When she’s not at the shelter, you can find Kerry hiking across the country, going to local shows, or bartending on the weekends.

Alli Rooney


Alli Rooney grew up loving all dogs, but it wasn’t until she adopted her own rescue mutt that she truly valued the importance of no-kill shelters and all the hard work that goes into keeping pets safe. After volunteering with One Tail at a Time for two years as an Adoption Center volunteer, Associate Board member and foster home, she officially became the Adoption Center Manager. She takes great pride in watching the dogs transform from intake, to foster home, and to finally finding their forever home. When she is not at the Center caring for the adoptable dogs, she is likely at home petting her dog, Swayze.
cara schwalbach one tail at a time

Cara Schwalbach


Cara loves connecting with other dog lovers who are eager to make Chicago a No-kill city! Her number one priority is making sure that each and every OTAT supporter can see the important difference he or she is making. Before being bit by the fundraising bug, Cara was a Musical Theater performer and can still be known to break into song and dance when OTAT meets a fundraising goal. Please say hi to Cara anytime you’d like!

Jennifer Rogers


Jennifer was in the catering and events industry for over 15 years before coming to OTAT. Jennifer began looking to volunteer with a non-profit after her children went to college, and with her love of dogs quickly settled in as OTAT’s volunteer coordinator. She fell head over heels in love with rescue and recently left her job to join the staff full time as an Adoption Coordinator. When not making matches for OTAT dogs or driving them around the city, Jennifer spends her time cooking for friends and family or relaxing with her husband + two dogs, Violet and Otis.

Anna Johnson


Anna Johnson has worked with dogs for over 20 years, beginning as a kennel worker and veterinary technician before spending 8 years as manager of Chicago Canine Rescue, where she fell in love with the Chicago rescue community. She loves working with vets to create meaningful partnerships to benefit animals in need, and finding creative solutions for providing rescue dogs with high quality vet care. When she’s not poking dogs with needles, Anna can be found at the barn with her horse, out for a run with her dogs, or eating all the pastries with friends.

Kathy Ihlenfeldt


Kathy is a KPA certified dog trainer with more than 8 years of rescue experience. She came to One Tail at a Time in 2017 as a foster. 16 foster dogs later, she is thrilled to dedicate her talents towards the entire community of rescue pups. When not guiding dogs to be their best selves, Kathy spends her days living the suburban dream with her wife and far too handsome dog, Cooper.

Amber Severance


Amber is a serial OTAT foster and volunteer turned staff member. She loves advocating for special needs animals and prides herself in hands-on handling. You’ll find her around town with her pack of pups or hanging around the Isolation House with the newbies. Her favorite thing at OTAT is playgroups, but temperament testing newbies at the city shelters is a close second.

Perla Sánchez Aparicio


Perla started fostering for OTAT back in 2018 and realized dogs were her passion. She quickly connected with the staff trainer and helped start the Behavior Support program. She dedicated her time volunteering at the Behavior Center and in foster’s homes. She is now excited to take a further step into rescue and is working on becoming a certified dog trainer! When Perla’s not thinking about dogs and dog behavior, she’s probably planning her next meal, trying to find new restaurants, or maybe going for a bike ride.

Shannon Wilson


Shannon has been part of the Chicago rescue field for the last five years, working in animal care, foster, and intake programs. After becoming an OTAT foster herself in 2019, she knew she wanted to be more involved in its mission. She has a soft spot for large, energetic dogs and teeny-tiny kittens, and you’ll usually find her with a foster (or two) in her home, along with her resident foster fail. Outside of the foster world, she spends time tending to her (too many) houseplants and baking cakes.

Megan Ores-Uhrich


Megan is a CPDT-KA and KPA certified dog trainer and has been working with dogs in Chicago for the past 21 years, using positive reinforcement methodologies. She cut her teeth working in a high volume local shelter struggling to keep the bright high energy pups sane and adoptable. Her passion is creative problem solving with both dog and human personalities to find common ground and improve relationships. She is obsessed with Australian Cattle dogs and Jack Russell Terriers.

Mat Stokes


Becoming responsible for a dog of his own taught Mat something important: they don't just happen. This principle has fueled a lifetime journey of discovery and facilitated a deeper appreciation for everything these fantastic animals can teach us. Mat's latest stop was becoming certified in R+ techniques through KPA. A soft spot in his heart for the dogs who need extra love brought him to the Behavior Center in 2019. The pups he met made it easy to stay. Mat and his wife are perfectly fine with the amount of time they have had to spend with their dog Midas while in quarantine.

Neil Yim


Neil has been a part of the Chicago animal industry for the past five years through local forest preserves, animal shelters and vet clinics. When not making matches at OTAT and being inspired by the animals around him, Neil is a freelance costume designer, oddities artist, crafter, dancer and lover of D&D. His two cats and very patient partner do their best to keep up with him

Maggie Hudson


Maggie’s animal advocacy began at age 12 when she made a PowerPoint presentation to convince her family to go vegetarian. After moving to Chicago in 2016, she started volunteering with One Tail and adopted her own OTAT dog, Piper, in 2018. Maggie has a background in nonprofit communications and fundraising and is overjoyed that she gets to use that experience to benefit the rescue pets of Chicago. When she’s not chatting with people about rescue dogs for work, she likes to chat with people about rescue dogs for fun. She also enjoys gardening, pottery, and exploring the neighborhoods of Chicago.

Darlene Pereda


Darlene’s drive to make positive change in the lives of vulnerable people (both human & animal) first led her to start volunteering with Chicago rescues in 2012. Since completing her M.S. in International Public Service at DePaul University in 2015, she has worked with nonprofit organizations focused on issues like youth homelessness, type 1 diabetes research, and community-based healthcare. After volunteering at several Community Pet Days, the Parvo Prevention Project, and CACC, Darlene recognized the huge shortage of veterinary, educational, and financial resources in Chicago’s historically underserved communities. As Community Engagement Manager, Darlene helps OTAT bring culturally competent, innovative, life-saving programming to Chicago’s homeless pets and communities in need of better access to high-quality, affordable veterinary care and compassionate pet owner support. Outside of OTAT, Darlene loves spending time with her own two dogs, Sen & Lindy, volunteering with other local organizations, and growing a nonprofit she co-founded dedicated to expanding financial literacy skills.

Bailey McConnell


Bailey has been working with animals for the entirety of her career. Being a foster parent, Bailey learned so much about force-free handling, positive reinforcement training, and the complexities of canines. Over the years, Bailey has had many animals spanning from fish to rabbits to insects and enjoys learning from all. Bailey is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and nothing brings her more joy than using her knowledge to help animals and their humans. Bailey is a firm believer in L.I.M.A. (Least Intrusive Minimally Aversive) and applies those concepts to animal and human learners. Bailey volunteered in rescue and worked as a humane society on-staff behavior professional. Bailey is committed to furthering her education and plans to continue to span her knowledge of animal behavior. When Bailey's not working with OTAT dogs, you can find her with her two rescue Dobermans, Piper and Baron.

Kimberly Thomas


Kim has nearly six years of experience working and volunteering in her passion field of animal welfare in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Kim's favorite part about her job is after years of fostering animals herself, she is able to connect with first-time-fosters and give them the tools and encouragement needed to succeed. Outside of work, you'll find her gardening, playing badminton, or spending time with her foster-failed dog and cat.

Ellis Veterinary Clinic Staff

Dr. Hampton


Dr. Hampton joined OTAT in the spring of 2020. He received both his bachelor’s and DVM degree at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and came to OTAT with over 7 years of veterinary experience in the shelter medicine field. Dr. Hampton enjoys donating his time to community events and is always open to sharing his career journey with others to help the public understand the value of animals in society and the importance of compassionate care. In his spare time Dr. Hampton enjoys working in the garden, reading a good book and spending time with family.

Dr. Rachael Wooten


Dr. Rachael Wooten is originally from the Southwest suburbs of Chicago and earned her bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following her tenure at the UW-Madison, Dr. Wooten 'took her talents down South' to Alabama where she completed her DVM at Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2017. While in veterinary school, Dr. Wooten’s passion to help underrepresented communities grew and she decided to pursue a career in Shelter Medicine and became particularly interested in soft tissue surgery. Following graduation, she moved back to Illinois to complete a one-year specialty internship at the University of Illinois CVM in shelter medicine. Through this internship she found an additional passion in teaching and community medicine. In 2018 she finally made it back to Chicago to practice shelter medicine full time and she hopes to make a long term impact on community outreach in the Chicagoland area. On her days off, you can find Dr. Wooten spending time with her husband (Nick), dog (Link), cat (Navi), playing sports or video games, singing/listening to music, and traveling whenever and wherever possible.

Stacy Price


Stacy Price comes to One Tail at a Time with over 15 years of animal welfare experience, starting her career studying techniques to prevent stress behaviors in zoo animals. Her focus was forever changed in 2009 when she adopted an overlooked senior white shepherd from a county shelter. With Vlad as her inspiration, Stacy has spent the last 10 years in leadership positions at various open intake and managed admission facilities before landing the job as One Tail’s Medical Director. When she’s not at the clinic, you can likely find Stacy at home with her six cats, two dogs, rabbit and incredibly tolerant husband.

Ana Karen del Rio


Ana Karen del Rio was born and raised in Mexico until moving to the United States at 10 years old. Growing up Ana always wanted to have a pet but it wasn’t until 2015 after being hired as an animal care specialist at a local shelter that she was able to adopt her first dog, Fermina. Outside her time working for OTAT, Ana is the Program Manager for the Chicagoland Rescue Intervention and Support Program and volunteers with LEAD Rescue, where she adopted her second dog Carmen.

Ian Widner


Ian grew up in Bradenton, Florida and moved to Chicago in 2016. He got his start in the veterinary field while working for a service dog training facility back home in Florida. After moving to Chicago, he spent four years working as a veterinary technician in shelter medicine prior to joining the OTAT team. Outside of work you can find Ian discussing reality TV with his cat Ralphie, struggling to keep his plants alive, or vacuuming endless amounts of cat hair off of everything he owns.

Carrie Rubinas


Carrie is a former pastry chef turned vet tech who got involved with OTAT as a foster and volunteer. She's currently pursuing her CVT certification and wants to help make animal healthcare accessible to all, everywhere it's needed. When she's not at work, she can be found at home with her husband, two dogs, and two cats, or sitting at a campsite deep in the woods somewhere without cell reception.