CENTRAL POINT, OR; In late January, Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) Regional Advisory Board – Pacific Northwest unanimously approved two new members, Rita Brennan (WA) and Shannon Salverda (WA). With these two new members, RAB – Pacific Northwest has grown to ten members across Washington and Oregon.
“We’re excited to see the addition of Rita and Shannon to RAB’s Pacific Northwest chapter,” stated chair Elena Tello Portoles. “With their expertise in marketing and education respectively, we look forward to their participation and contributions, helping to advance Dogs for Better Lives’ critical work in the PNW.”
Rita and Shannon provide invaluable backgrounds in marketing and education respectively which will certainly augment the important work the Regional Advisory Board – Pacific Northwest is engaged in, while advocating for Dogs for Better Lives in the region.
For as long as Rita Brennan can recall, she has been fascinated with working dogs and wanting to be involved with them. In 2020 when Rita found an opportunity to “Raise a Future Assistance Dog,” through Dogs for Better Lives’ (DBL) puppy raiser program, she jumped right in. A short time later, DBL field representative, Jess Taluth was dropping off Rita’s first puppy in training, Guinness.
Thanks to the close collaboration with her DBL trainer, over the course of 12-months, Guinness transformed from silly puppy to focused adult (with a side of wiggles and wags). Rita’s first puppy-raising experience was very rewarding, and she signed up to raise another, a yellow lab pup named Meadow.
Although neither of her puppies ultimately became Assistance Dogs, they are both life-changing and adored companions. Both Guinness and Meadow were career changed and now Guinness has been placed in a forever home in Oregon, while Meadow was adopted by Rita and resides with her in Washington State.
Rita’s life has changed for the better, witnessing first-hand the patience, resources, and commitment that DBL devotes to the development of these life-changing dogs.
“Joining the Regional Advisory Board – PNW is another way I can contribute to DBL’s important mission,” stated Rita. “I’m honored to be a small part of making a huge impact.”
Shannon Salverda comes to DBL to marry her love of animals and her commitment to supporting equitable access. A speech-language pathologist since 1997, Shannon’s work has provided her opportunities to support people of all ages as they find pathways to make the world work better for them.
Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Elementary Education. She received her Master of Science in Communicative Disorders with an emphasis in Pediatric Neurology. She is an avid reader, outdoor enthusiast, foodie, and student of Universal Design for Learning.
Shannon and her family spend much of their time in nature hiking, kayaking, swimming and snowshoeing. They are consistently accompanied by their dog, Hazel, a rescue from a local agency. Dogs as family members amplify the joy and unconditional love in daily life. Shannon is passionate about improving access for those who will benefit from the practical support of a guide dog but also the joy of companionship and connection.
“Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone’s potential,” stated Shannon. “I am excited to join the Regional Advisory Board-PNW as I believe that everyone deserves love and access. This is an opportunity for me to take action on that belief and provide a positive impact in the lives of others.”
Currently DBL has Regional Advisory Boards in three regions of the country, including Pacific Northwest (WA, OR), Southwest (CA), and Northeast (MA, NJ, NY, and VA). To learn more about the Regional Advisory Boards and opportunities to join, visit here.