Celebrating staff and volunteers on Veterans Day

Dr. Apryl Steele, President and CEO

Dr. Apryl Steele’s military service started when she accompanied a friend to the United States Army recruiting office. Along merely for moral support, Apryl had no intention of joining. She had started school at Colorado State University, with plans to become a veterinarian, a goal that was ultimately achieved. Fate, however, had a different plan, and eight hours later, Apryl was officially in the Army Reserve Veterinary Corps. During her service, Apryl was activated for Desert Storm and stationed in Stockton, California, where she worked as a food inspector. Her time in the Army included a Humanitarian effort in Panama, where she was sent to a rural village with a group of dentists. Here she hiked upwards of 10 miles a day to vaccinate cattle. During her time in Panama, the country was impacted by a hurricane that caused extreme flooding. Her team and all the local citizens were forced to live in an area about the size of a football field. While her mission’s effort was humanitarian, the civilians were not pleased with the United States’ presence in their country. Tension was high during the four days that it took for her unit to be evacuated, and as their helicopters left, Panama citizens opened fire on them. Apryl was honorably discharged from service in 1996 after earning two Army Commendation medals. Apryl continues her commitment to service as the CEO and President of the Dumb Friends League, and she is humbled for the opportunity to impact so many people and pets in such a huge way. Thank you, Apryl, for your passion and commitment to help the people and the pets in our compassionate community and thank you for your service.

George White, Adoption Associate

A person of many talents, Adoption Associate George White’s aptitudes go far beyond his expertise for matching homeless pets with their new homes. A skill in which he has perfected during his eight years at the Dumb Friends League. To add to his list of talents, George has a degree in music, which he used during his time in the United States Air Force band. From 1990 – 1994, George performed concerts, playing either the clarinet or saxophone. He played for many different audiences, including soldiers who were returning from Desert Storm. One such concert, George performed at the dedication of the Regan Library in which the audience included all the former living presidents, names such as Ronald Regan, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, all sat in attendance. Afterward, the band was invited to visit Regan’s office, where they met and had the opportunity to take a photo with President Regan. George’s passion for music is mirrored only by his passion for animals. Working at the League, George loves being an advocate for pets in need. Thank you, George, for serving our country and for providing a voice to homeless pets!

Christina Guynes, volunteer

Christina wears a lot of hats in her volunteer role at the Dumb Friends League, and it’s not uncommon to pass her in the hall one of the four days she’s here. She dedicates her time helping to comfort fearful cats in the Kitty Comfort program, cleaning cat kennels to ensure our feline friends are comfortable during their stay and assisting in the often daunting and never-ending task of laundry – you can imagine with the more than 21,000 homeless pets we help each year we go through A LOT of towels. Christina’s passion for service didn’t start at the League, and she is one example of the wonderful veterans who work to serve homeless pets after serving our country. Similar to her volunteering habits, Christina wore a lot of hats during her service. Starting with the Navy in 1975, moving on to the Coast Guard in 1983, and finally rounding off her military career in the Army beginning in 1985, where she trained German shepherds to assist in mine detection and work on century duty. When asked about training dogs and if there were any that stood out during her service Christina replied that “they were all great dogs.” Christina loves volunteering at the League, saying her favorite part is meeting all the incredible people at the shelter, commenting on how appreciated she feels. Thank you, Christina, for your service to our country and your continued service to homeless pets in need!

Maribeth Klettke, volunteer

Maribeth’s military career started in 1996, where she served as a Military Intelligence officer in the United States Army. After being deployed to Bosnia from October 1997 – January 1998, Maribeth settled in as a Military Intelligence Operations Officer in support of the National Security Agency in Germany. It was here that she met her first two cats, Girl Cat and Boy Cat, that she rescued from a Bavarian Dairy farm and brought back to the States in 2000. Maribeth started volunteering at the Dumb Friends League Buddy Center in 2012 cleaning cat kennels, where she met and adopted her cat, Earl Grey. She can now be found at the Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center, providing care for the horses until they meet their new families. While she has had many good memories during her volunteer time at the League, Maribeth remembers seeing the transformation of a group of neglected horses from a cruelty case out of Conroe, Texas. Saying that, “It was most rewarding, several months later, to see them become beautiful, trusting, healthy horses ready to be adopted out to their forever homes.” Thank you, Maribeth, for your service and your dedication to serving animals in need!

Mary and Art Thayer, volunteers

For Mary and Art serving others runs in the family. Mary and Art are both dedicated Dumb Friends League volunteers and have both served in the United States Air Force – eight years and 14 years, respectively. Art spent his time in the Air Force as an HVAC technician and one year in Vietnam while Mary worked as an Aircraft Control and Warning Operator, finishing her military career as a Chapel Management Technician. Art and Mary met in Mississippi and were married on August 1, 1969, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. Art continued his habit of giving back in 2010 when he started volunteering as a web photographer at the League, taking photos of adoptable pets. Art works hard at spreading compassion and is proud to have encouraged his son and wife to start volunteering as well! Like Art, Mary’s passion for service didn’t end with her military career, and she started volunteering at the League in 2013. She has volunteered in several capacities, including, answering behavior calls, helping some of our youngest and most vulnerable pets in the foster program, and finally writing adoption bios for our pets to help them find their new homes. Mary most enjoyed caring for and playing with the animals during her time volunteering in foster. Thank you, Mary and Art, for choosing the Dumb Friends League as a place to continue your service. Thank you for serving our country and for helping homeless pets!

Margaret Turner, volunteer

Margaret joined the United States Army at 31-years-old. Starting in personnel until being promoted to logistics. Before retiring in 2008, Margaret’s brigade was responsible for training soldiers that were going to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. While she misses her time in the military, Margaret has taken her passion for service and works to help pets and people as a Dumb Friends League pet admissions volunteer. Here she helps patrons and animals when they first arrive at the shelter. Pet Admissions is often the first point of contact for many of the pets we serve and volunteering here Margaret helps provide compassion to patrons during an often challenging time. When asked what her most memorable moment was as a volunteer, Margaret said she has too many good memories to choose just one. Thank you, Margaret, for your service and for bringing second chances to pets in need when they first walk through our doors.

Rick Karcich, volunteer

Rick is a United States Army Veteran and compassionate Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center, volunteer. Rick’s military service started in 1975, where he was a platoon leader in the 62nd Engineer Battalion in Fort Hood, Texas, for two years. In the next four years of his service, he served in the Army reserves as a platoon leader and Battalion S-2. Rick completed his service in 1981. You can now find Rick at the Harmony Equine Center, where he helps provide care to horses who have suffered neglect and abuse. Rick remembers the rehabilitation of a horse named Melissa. She arrived at Harmony with a hoof injury. With monthly farrier work, all supported financially by Rick, Melissa was able to find a forever home as a companion horse after a year of treatment. Thank you, Rick, for your service and for volunteering to help horses in need.

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