Meet the Staff

Laura Merrick
President and CEO

Honored to serve as the President and CEO, Laura joined the team at DRHS in February 2018. Laura’s progressive career in nonprofit leadership over the last decade, supported by a BS in Business from Colorado State, a BFA from Clarke University and the pursuit of an MPA from the University of Colorado Denver, demonstrates a dedication to achieving mission excellence, faithful advocacy for vulnerable populations (human and animal alike), and an ardent belief in creating greater good through collective service. Laura feels blessed to be part of an organization and community that prioritizes pathways to effectuate positive changes in animal welfare and education. As a believer that every pet should have a home Laura shares her home with a rather opinionated and highly camera shy dog named Beauregard.

Molly Van Gorden, DVM

Dr. Van Gorden joined the DRHS in 2018 as the shelter veterinarian. Dr. Van Gorden joined the DRHS team in 2018 as the shelter veterinarian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University in 2002, and graduated from the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Dr. Van Gorden spent 12 years in a small animal private practice before becoming the veterinarian for the DRHS. She is passionate about adopting and caring for animals with special medical needs, and currently shares her home with three dogs and cat.

Melissa Palfrey
Director of Marketing & Events

Melissa joined the DRHS in 2015. She has over ten years experience in the Marketing and Communications field with a Bachelor's degree in Communications, an emphasis in Imaging and a Minor in Public Relations. Melissa rescued a Pit Bull mix, Midnight, from the DRHS in 2010, a boxer/husky mix named Charlie in 2017 and she also has an Old English Bulldog named Angus.

Amanda Shaffer
Shelter Manager

Amanda joined the DRHS team in 2015. She studied Animal Science at Iowa State University and has over 7 years of experience in animal welfare. She has worked in a variety of positions at the DRHS and has the ability to assist and help where is needed. She has been an animal advocate since she was a young girl and has a soft spot for elderly and animals with special needs.

Angie Herting
Development Officer

Angie joined the DRHS team as our Development Officer in November 2016. She has over 17 years of experience in the Sales and Business Development and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a Minor in Spanish from Loras College. Angie loves animals and rescued her Boxer, Jaxon, in 2014.

Kelsey Schmidt
Outreach Coordinator

Kelsey became the DRHS' Outreach Coordinator in February 2018. She has had a life-long passion for both animals and children, which makes her uniquely qualified in the undertaking of enlarging the community's knowledge of the DRHS' mission. Kelsey has rescued many loved ones including a chinchilla, corn snake, three kittens, and a rat terrier mix named Khloe.


Vet Technicians
Briana Eickhoff
Kelly Bode

Rehoming Consultant
Jennifer Sheldon

Dick Hess
Customer Care Supervisor
Stephanie Sprague
Animal Care Supervisor
Molly Melssen

Program/Event Assistant
Brooke Welp

Customer Care Representative
Carla Holloway
Ashley McDonald

Animal Care Technicians
Lisa Brimeyer
Holly Steil
Rachel Sell
Hannah Salow
Tricia Lovett
Jalyn Streif
Emilee Anderson
Ashlyn Habel
Lindsey Ludescher