Our Team

Dogtastically Happy Guarantee

Our Leadership Team

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Since 2011, partners Craig Pollack and James Woller have built a skilled and strong leadership team whose passion for petcare and business leadership has positioned Release the Hounds as the pet services industry leader.

Craig Pollack

Co-Owner and President

Craig is a results-driven senior executive with substantive experience building and leading high performance companies.

He attributes his success to being an honest communicator who leads by example, and strives to continually build dynamic teams that have a desire to serve and delight clients.

Combining his previous experiences which included brand management at Proctor and Gamble Inc. and CEO skills from Race Face Performance Products, Craig is responsible for championing the strategic development of Release the Hounds. He is also actively involved in developing the company’s brand identity and culture, as well as for our sister pet-services company, Jet Pet Resort.

In addition, Craig has sat on the board of a number of companies, currently focusing on the not-for-profit Global Women organization. In his spare time, Craig enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities and spending time with his family including his very active, and often entertaining, three boys.

James Woller

Co-Owner and VP Business Development

James is a committed, high-integrity, results-producing professional with experience working in positions that have required organizational leadership, impact and the ability to work through strategic issues.

A critical thinker and strategic planner able to anticipate scope complexity and challenges, James has proven results of moving an organization forward. A collaborator and networker who is able to work internationally and cross-culturally, he is adept at identifying solutions and exhibits visionary leadership.

At an early age James’ entrepreneurial spirit was evident as he built a substantial landscaping company in Kansas City–all while still in high school. He transitioned into not-for-profit and was part of the founding team for Vancouver’s Bulembu International, a sustainable community development project in Swaziland. Within a few years, the project was identified by BC Business as an industry leader in branding/marketing and a model for communities seeking economic sustainability. In 2008, James co-authored a business book called “The Skill” which leads readers to increase their adaptability for better performance.

James joined the Release the Hounds team in 2011 and has been an integral part in expanding its ability to provide professional service to a greater number of customers.

James studied International Affairs and Economic Development at Trinity Western University. He loves spending time with his wife Rose, 2 children and friends, is an avid tennis player and enjoys reading and traveling in his spare time.

Chris Chidley

Operations Manager

Chris is a born Vancouverite and has embraced everything that stands for: nature at its best.

Along with his love of nature comes a deep love of dogs. Not a day has gone by that there hasn’t been a dog in his life, and as the saying goes; they truly are a man’s best friend. When the opportunity arose for Chris to combine his two biggest loves, he jumped at the chance to work for Release the Hounds in the hopes of turning working with dogs into a career.

Chris has been with Release the Hounds since 2012, and his wish has come true. As Release the Hounds continues to grow and expand, Chris has stepped into a leadership role as Operations Manager. The Team Leader for the Dog Walking team, Chris organizes their logistics, as well as manages Customer Care and scheduling. He maintains the fleet and is excited about all of the growth at Release the Hounds with their incredible staff education and care programs, as well as their positive impact on the industry.

Annika McDade

Canine Behaviour Specialist

Owner of Canine Connection Training, Annika McDade is a multi-certified Professional Dog Trainer.

Her diverse, animal-centric background includes working in a shelter environment assessing aggressive dogs at the city pound, to training wolves in Mongolia and Great Pyrenees in the French Alps for films.

Her inspiring ability to connect with animals has made her a strong presence in Vancouver’s Dog Training industry. Annika offers a variety of services including group classes, one-on-one specialized consultations, behaviour assessments and training plans, and walk-n-train programs.

Rachelle Biever

Customer Sales Representative

Rachelle is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with over 5 years experience in dog daycares, boarding facilities, shelters, and pet stores.

She received her Dog Grooming Certification through ICOES and Holly and Hugo and has also taken courses on pet psychology, pet nutrition, and assessing dog body language for aggression. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers (CAPPDT). When she isn’t working with new Release the Hounds clients, she is hitting the trails or hanging out with her two rescue dogs, Calli and Nala.

Our Walking Team

We hire dog loving professionals that uphold the Release the Hounds ‘golden standard’ of pet care.

Our team undergoes a highly competitive vetting process that includes an in-depth application process, rigorous interviews, job shadow and certification through DogForceU. Each team member is bonded, insured, and continually learning and refreshing their knowledge with DogForceU to stay on top of pet care advancements.

Cyndi Callow

After moving from Calgary in 2013 to escape the cold Alberta winters, I couldn’t be happier to call Vancouver my home. Growing up with a love of animals and having worked in vet clinics and grooming salons, it was like a dream come true to find a career that combined spending time with dogs and exploring the beautiful north shore mountains.

In my spare time I play drums and enjoy being active in the Vancouver music scene. I also love hanging out with my three cats- Sammy, Melvin and Libby

Erin Hansen

Erin has just recently moved back to Vancouver after 2 years of traveling overseas. The further she traveled away from Vancouver, the more she realized how much she loves and missed this great city. She missed spending time adventuring in the Canadian outdoors; whether its hiking, biking or beach picnicking. Erin spent nearly a year with Release the Hounds back in 2014 before leaving to travel overseas and upon returning is excited to rejoin the team.  Like the rest of the Release the Hounds crew she feels that outdoor adventures are 100% more fun when they are being shared with some fur friends.

Her favourite activities include spending time hiking with friends and family, babysitting her sisters German Sheppard-Husky, art, the great music scene and exploring the west coast.

 

Jackie Bishop

While growing up in Wasaga Beach, a small town in Ontario, I always knew I wanted to be like my father. After visiting his home in Newfoundland several times, I decided I wanted to literally walk in my father’s footsteps. When he was a 17 year old kid in the 70’s, he hitchhiked across Canada and for a little while, ended up here, in Vancouver. After graduating from high school, I found myself here as well. Having always loved mother earth and animals, the huge mountains and giant trees felt almost perfect to me. When I found Release the Hounds, I knew moving here was indeed the perfect choice. Now I love taking my furry four legged friends out to explore and hike through the beautiful BC forests.

Jessica Frankie

Jessica grew up on a farm in Kelowna and has been surrounded by animals her entire life. She has had several dogs and has cared for everything from a Rat Terrier to a Boxer.

After graduating from high school, she went to college to study hair design, but soon realized this was not what she was meant to do. After she and her partner moved to Vancouver, Jessica found Release the Hounds and recognized her deep desire to work with animals.

Dogs have become the forefront of Jessica’s life. When she isn’t walking dogs, she researches dog behaviour and breeds, and hopes to one day board dogs for Release the Hounds. She certainly loves what she does!

Jillian Mundy

Leaving Calgary in 2013 to escape the cold Alberta winters, Cyndi couldn’t be happier to call Vancouver home. Growing up with a love of animals along with work experience in vet clinics and grooming salons, it was like a dream come true to find a career that combined spending her time with dogs and exploring the beautiful north shore mountains.

In her spare time, Cyndi plays drums and is active on the Vancouver music scene. She also love hanging out with her three cats: Sammy, Melvin and Libby.

Kevin Orr

Growing up in rural Ontario on and around farming areas helped foster a love of the natural world for Kevin, and having dogs just enhanced the experience. Working with domesticated animals also led to a fascination with more exotic wildlife and for almost 9 years He worked for 2 different zoological facilities in Ontario encountering a variety of fauna ranging from Nile Crocodiles and 5 metre Pythons to Wildcats and Birds of prey while educating people about them. Moving to BC in 2015 meant big changes and with Release the hounds he is able to continue with his love of animals and nature while exploring temperate rainforest with some amazing critters, Dogs!

Lyndsy Bowen

Lyndsy grew up in the Okanagan and spent summers in the Kootenays; playing in the forests and swimming in the lakes. She’s lived in Vancouver on and off since 2011 and recently returned from living in Thailand where she spent the majority of her time teaching scuba diving.

She’s been surrounded by animals her entire life and growing up would spend her weekends at her friends farm helping with chores and bonding with the cats, horses and dogs! She is incredibly excited to be working for Release the Hounds and has a hard time thinking of her days as work.

The forest is her backyard and the more dogs running around the trails with her the happier she is.

Megan Elias

Having lived and travelled in many cities, Megan embraces adventure, the great outdoors and the variety of life. Growing up in both Canada and New Zealand, has offered many opportunities to explore mountains, beaches and meet many amazing people…and of course their pets.

The connection she has had with these furry creatures over the years, has led her to realize that she has a passion for spending time with and caring for her canine friends on a daily basis. This is why she is excited to be joining Release the Hounds.

Megan’s background is in the arts and acting and has appeared in various television commercials and shows. She still lends her voice to video games and commercial projects here in Vancouver.

Part of being involved in artistic endeavours is the development of awareness and appreciation for what is around us, which she believes brings a greater empathy for our fellow humans and animals alike.

Ryan Blight

Ryan was born and raised in the flat prairie lands of Saskatchewan with a multitude of furry siblings of the canine and feline variety. An avid traveler and fan of exploration, he ventured to the West Coast to indulge his favourite pastimes: landscaping, hiking, animals, traveling and photography.

When Ryan isn’t hitting the trails, you can find him teaching yoga downtown. He’s thrilled to be meeting new furry (and non furry) friends in Vancouver!

Sarah Burns

After moving from Toronto to further her studies in Nutrition, Sarah was seeking a job in Vancouver that would reflect this healthy lifestyle. In hopes of reconnecting with another passion of hers; animals, she was thrilled to start working alongside Release the Hounds! She cannot think of a better way to spend a day, than hiking through lush forests with some amazing dogs?

When Sarah is not curiously exploring the Vancouver forests with her Release the Hound’s dogs, she is working away with the Social Media team. A perfect fit for this multitasker who has a background in business management, marketing and fashion. Through this exciting endeavor, Sarah will be able to connect with her creative strategic side again.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys yoga, café hopping, biking through Stanley Park, cooking and cuddling with her two cats, Emmy and Finnigan.

Sylvia Marques

Sylvia grew up in Vancouver, but lived in Michigan from 2008-2015, studying history at graduate school. Despite a deep love of reading and writing about things that happened in the past, she left academia to move back to Vancouver to be closer to family and focus on being a little more grounded in the present. Growing up, Sylvia’s family included many canine companions, and she’s always been fascinated by dogs, their worlds, and how we fit into them. She’s excited to join the Release the Hounds team and feels very privileged to be able to spend quality time with all of her new canine companions!

Alyssa Castle

Alyssa is a dog mom extraordinaire! By day, she hikes the woods with Release the Hounds’ fabulous pups; by night, she writes health, nutrition, welfare, and training articles for successful dog-centric media companies. Alyssa is the newest addition to the RTH pack, and, after working from home for the past 10 months, she is excited to explore Vancouver with RTH and her two fur kids – Mortimer and Maisey.

As well as a writer, dog mom, and doggy adventure guide, Alyssa is a passionate animal welfare advocate, spending much of her free time researching and supporting welfare efforts. Whether she is promoting fundraisers, interviewing rescue organizations, or simply networking adoptable dogs, Alyssa does everything she can to make a difference in the lives of dogs worldwide.

Alyssa’s ultimate goal is to open a rehabilitation centre for destitute dogs, while maintaining a professional writing career. She hopes the two dreams will continue to coincide flawlessly.

Courtney Hunt

Born in Alberta and raised in Victoria, Texas before moving to Vancouver, BC for an amazing school opportunity, the only constant in Courtney’s life is her dogs. Determined to find a career in line with her passion and love of the beautiful outdoors, she honed her skills at a doggy daycare. The best part: the freedom of off-leash afternoon hikes. Rain or shine, the joy of off-leash playtime beat the tiring work involved.

She eventually found her way to Release the Hounds, a company that allows Courtney to experience the great outdoors on a daily basis with her furry friends exploring new trails and soaking in the scenery before returning home tired and happy.

Private Walkers

David Boyko

Born and raised in a small farming community David developed an understanding and love of animals early in life. As a young man David was employed by the City of Calgary as a police constable training to work with the canine division. After leaving the force David has had a career in the retail industry focusing on interior design. He has always had dogs as family members. These range from a Bichon-Shitsu cross ,a pair of German Short Haired Pointers and most recently German Shepherds . Recently-retired from retail David brings to RTH a mature and responsible attitude and appreciation for the privilege sharing time with his new canine friends.

Grace Hung

Grace Hung From Taiwan to Canada, from New York State to California, and finally Vancouver, Grace has always lived near a body of water and is happiest when she’s breathing salty air. She holds a Bsc. in Nutritional Science and has training experience in professional healthcare fields. An accident and a lengthy hospital stay a few years back gave her the opportunity to re-evaluate life, and now she is dedicated to Release the Hounds; focusing her energy on working with pups on a one-on-one basis doing private dog walks. Grace is 100% devoted to her canine friends. Wet licks and wagging tails cheering her on throughout recovery. Dogs teach her gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, patience, devotion, compassion, and honesty. She has happily traded in her white lab coat for a waterproof windbreaker and dog walking leashes.

Cassy Brooker

Cassy grew up surrounded by animals, igniting her adoration for the animal kingdom. Upon high school graduation, Cassy began her journey working with animals and is thrilled to expand her dog handling experience at Release the Hounds. Her favourite part of working with dogs is forging unforgettable bonds with her charges. Passionate about nature and personal fitness, Cassy is happy to combine her loves in Vancouver’s coastal mountains; hiking and partaking in several water sports. She is a certified Scuba Divemaster, and can be found in the deep dark waters around Howe Sound and furthering her dreams of helping animal organizations on a global level.

Stephanie Alvarez

Stephanie was born and raised in Vancouver, and after earning her degree in English and religion from the University of Toronto she decided to return home to be closer to her family and all the amazing outdoor opportunities the West Coast has to offer. Stephanie has been passionate about animals from the very beginning, not one birthday or Christmas passed without a request for a dog of her own. She started walking her neighbour’s Bernese Mountain Dog as a kid, and volunteered at the Pet Station after school. She now works at the University Golf Club and spends her spare time volunteering with the Richmond Therapeutic Riding Association. Stephanie loves spending time outdoors and is very excited about the opportunity to explore this wonderful city with some wonderful puppies!

Levi McCachen

Levi McCachen grew up in Calgary, Alberta where he spent countless hours on his friends and family members farms and ranches just outside the city. He always felt at home surrounded by animals. Unfortunately due to his sister’s allergies, he was never able to have a dog of his own. Now as part of the Release The Hounds team he is delighted to not have just one animal companion, but several. By night he is a stand-up comedian, bringing joy to people at all the clubs around the city. Walking dogs during the day is the perfect life filler as he has plenty of time to just be with a a furry companion. He has also written a documentary entitled ‘The Drop: Why Young People Don’t Vote’ that aired on CPAC and TVO in the fall of 2015.

Mira Black

Mira has been working with children, both furry and of the human variety, in a multitude of situations for over 20 years.

She earned her degree in Psychology and takes her duties with your pet very seriously. Mira’s skill in creating relationships is something we are very proud to offer our clients. You won’t be surprised to find her singing to your pet as they walk and play around town.

Conor Mack

Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Conor discovered his love of animals after falling for a charming farm rescue named Pookie. His attachment to dogs lead him to pursue a path in the dog industry, and he has successfully walked and boarded dogs since 2010.

Conor finds fulfillment in his passion for animals, and loves commanding a great crew of fun-loving canines.