Un-Shelter Co-Founders

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Napoleon Dog

Karen Kazyak


Karen was born into a family of animal advocates; animal welfare is in her DNA.  She brings 30+ years of shelter experience to the Un-Shelter as a: Donor, Volunteer, Foster, Adopter, Staff Member, Nonprofit Founder, Municipal Shelter Manager and Private Shelter Animal Welfare Director. She comes with an unparalleled work ethic, passion, creativity and commitment to making a difference on behalf of the animals she serves.
“ I am joining the Un-Shelter team because I want to be part of something extraordinary! Our industry is in dire need of a paradigm shift. Sheltering began sadly killing a majority of its population. Sheltering now moves animals out at warp speed in an effort to reach industry induced percentages. Both models are fear-based and ultimately do a disservice.  Creating & cultivating authentic, “valued relationships” is crucial for the positive future of our industry. 
I am hopeful that the Un-Shelter, with its heart centered “collaborative” mission will be just what this state needs to unify our agencies, our communities, and ultimately impact the positive future of our adopted pets.  The Un-shelter believes that shelter pets are not “damaged goods“ but rather casualties of a fractured society and every displaced animal in the state of Michigan is our responsibility.

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Laura Reese

Laura Reese is a Co-Founder and Board member of the Un-Shelter.  She began volunteering at the local animal shelter with her then 13-year old daughter.  She was moved by the plight homeless animals in Detroit and decided to bring her academic skills to questions of animal welfare.  What are the causes of animal cruelty and how do we best combat it?  What animal sheltering practices are most important in leading to higher live release rates?  What local animal control ordinances are most effective in keeping people and animals in our communities safe?  She has looked at these and similar policy questions with the goal of improving practice in animal sheltering and community animal welfare.  Laura is grateful to the animal welfare community in Detroit for teaching her so much about sheltering and rescue in ways that simply can’t be achieved by reading books and analyzing data.  She has volunteered with Detroit Animal Care and Control, Bark Nation, Dog Aide and C.H.A.I.N.E.D.  
For Laura, the dream of the Un-Shelter is rooted in the heroic efforts to provide sheltering to homeless animals in Detroit and communities like it, in municipal shelters that are overcapacity and under resourced.  The Un-Shelter’s mission is to act as a partner to other shelters in need: transferring animals and finding them homes; providing training and support to sheltering professionals; sending teams of volunteers to assist with programs.  The dream of the Un-Shelter is to serve as a community resource for people and their pets, acting with transparency, and treating both humans and animals compassionately.  The dream of the Un-Shelter is to be a place where innovation and learning is constant; where we never say, “well we’ve always done it this way.”  
In addition to her daughters, Laura is mom to Rhymni a sweet and fearful Staffy mix and and a old-man cat Winston, a visually (and maybe mentally) impaired cuddle bug.  They are both rescues.  After fostering for 15 years, she is very proud that Winston is the only foster failure.


Marcia Young

Marcia Young is a passionate animal advocate having had multiple sweet creatures living with her and her two daughters over the years.  Dogs, cats, bunnies, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, fish, and the occasional weekend visitors of pot bellied pigs and goats!  She has been volunteering at shelters and rescue groups for several years with a significant amount of time facilitating doggie playgroups!  She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, CPDT-KA working with dogs daily.   Marcia is currently a volunteer for an outreach group in the city of Detroit providing straw, food, and shelter for animals in need, and educating owners. She is also on the Humane Society of the Untied States Animal Rescue Team since 2015 which deploys for hoarding cases, puppy mill seizures, and disasters.  She is dog Mom to her rescues, Akira, a Rottweiler mix, Maizie, an Australian Cattle Dog, and Rocky, a Chihuahua.  And not to leave out our felines, Marcia has also had up to six cats in her household at any one time but currently has just two: ten year old brothers named Duncan and Dexter, oh and a parakeet named Buddy.  💜