Our Team

Dogtastically Happy Guarantee

Our Leadership Team

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.

Kevin Orr

Vancouver Team Leader

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. 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!

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

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!

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!

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.

Jessica Streeter

Jessica recently relocated to BC from her home town of Cambridge, Ontario where she spent the last year working as a local dog walker. Jessica turned her life-long passion for animals into a career right from start, graduating from St. Clair College’s Veterinary Technician program. From caring for cats and dogs in both private practice and emergency settings as a vet tech, to the exotics like Rhinos, Giraffes, Baboons and Lions as a game keeper, Jessica’s love of animals knows no bounds. You can find her adventuring on the hiking trails, hanging with her cat June Bug, or playing roller derby for the Terminal City Roller Girls.

Brooke Trozzo

Growing up in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, Brooke always loved discovering the outdoors and being around animals. Not only did she have multiple dogs and cats, she also cared for birds, fish, snakes and rabbits throughout her life. After she finished the Veterinary Assistant program in her home town of Kelowna, Brooke wanted to experience a new city and all it had to offer. What drew her to Vancouver was the amazing diversity, and of course, the stunning nature surrounding it.

When she’s not exploring the mountains, Brooke is often at the beach with a good book or enjoying live music. She has been living in the city since 2015 and has loved every minute of it! Brooke is excited to be part of the amazing team at Release the Hounds and to meet energetic dog companions to be her new walking partners!

Nadia Kristensen

Nadia has always had a passion to work with animals as she grew up with multiple dogs in the family. Originally from Denmark, in 2016 she moved to Canada with her partner and her pup in order to follow her passion and have more opportunity to work with dogs. Although she is in Canada for only 2 years, the opportunity to work with dogs, while being in the amazing forested mountains, Nadia is looking to make Canada her new home. In her free time she loves to hike, explore and meet-up with other dog lovers (especially those with French Bulldogs).

Shannon Mendt

Shannon is very excited to be moving back to Vancouver after 3 years traveling abroad and working out of town. After graduating, Shannon spent two years traveling throughout Oceania and South East Asia. After she returned home, she decided to put her background in environmental science and biology to use, and has spent the last year working with various wildlife research projects up and down the west coast concerning everything from salmon to deer. Throughout these varied experience, one thing has remained constant – a deep seeded love for animals, and especially dogs!

Now Shannon is back in Vancouver and is looking forward to rediscovering the city she loves, while also exploring the beautiful north shore mountains with some new furry friends!

Pascale Hudon

Coming from Montreal, Pascale arrived in Vancouver with one idea in mind – exploring the beauty of the countless mountains that are all around the city. Passionate about all sorts of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, diving, rock climbing, and being around dogs, she found true happiness with Release the Hounds.

After travelling around the world for the past 6 years, Pascale decided that it was time to settle down. Vancouver seemed to be the ideal city to start a complete new life. Spending the day outside exploring new areas while taking care of amazing dogs, Release the Hounds was the perfect job for her!

Maryam Noor

Maryam was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to BC when she was 6. When she was 19, she was given her first dog, Bella and then three years later she added another pup to her family. It wasn’t until she had Bella that she discovered her intense love for dogs.

Maryam went to BCIT for Marketing Management, however working with dogs has become her true calling. Over the past 5 years she has worked at grooming salons, dog daycares, and boarding facilities. Her experience has allowed her to handle dogs from all walks of life, including dogs dealing with anxiety and aggression.

In her spare time, she loves to read novels (specifically fantasy), listen to music, paint, and hang out with her two lovely dogs!

Michaela Smith

Michaela grew up in BC spending most of her time running through the woods with her Golden Retriever Chelsea or playing piano. Instead of babysitting like her sisters, she was a pet sitter and cared for her mother’s friends German Shepard/Chow Chow. After injuring her hand and realizing that playing piano for a living would no longer be possible, she was encouraged by family to look into dog walking. Agreeing that it would be a good idea, she found a job and quickly realized that walking dogs was one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences she’s ever had. She loves exploring the woods with her dogs and having all kinds of adventures. A tired dog is a happy dog! Now Michaela lives in Vancouver with her 3 year old Pug Zero. She still plays piano, but her life has become much more centered around animals. She enjoys relaxing in the sun, Chopin playing in the background, a good book in hand, and Zero snoozing away in her lap.

Megan Mahoney

Megan has always had a passion for animals. As a child on Vancouver Island, she raised 10 guinea pigs, looked after her family’s rescue dog, and cleaned horse stables as her first weekend job. Even while in University in England, she adopted her first puppy, Arco while at university in England. Though her background is as a Japanese translator, Megan found that office work was not for her – She missed being outside with her dog! After getting her Pet First Aid certification, Megan found work at a doggy daycare, where she enjoyed giving each dog attentive and loving care, while keeping up with unending cleaning work. Megan is excited to get to know new dog buddies, and have fun in the beautiful Vancouver outdoors with Release the Hounds! Her philosophy is to take care of every animal to the same standard as she would her own dog.

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.

Deidré Heim

Deidré was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. Being the eldest of four children, taking care of her younger siblings and caring for the household dogs was her first love. As a teenager when she immigrated to Vancouver, it broke her heart to say goodbye to her beloved pets. Many years later when Deidre became a Mom, her daughter at a very young age showed her sense of animal love and wanted a furry companion. She wanted her daughter to share the same memories she had as a child so they welcomed Sadie, an English Springer Spaniel puppy to their home. The puppy love grew into an adult dog love and sadly Sadie passed away in August 2016 at the ripe age of 14 years. Once again being hit with having to say goodbye to an endeared fury family member took another toll on Deidré’s heart!

Professionally, Deidré is preparing for her next phase of work, life balance and is excited to be part of the Release the Hounds team. She spent almost two decades managing hotel operations for large global hotel brands. Deidré’s passion for life and love of delivering extraordinary hospitality and customer care whether its to human hotel/house guests or to canine hotel/house guests is remarkable.

Betty Yan

In February 2016, Betty began working as a dog walker because she loves to be around dogs. Betty enjoys seeing how happy the dogs are to be simply exploring outside, and their playful energy is infectious.

She feels blessed to be surrounded by spirited animals all day; it has been a dream come true!

 

Samantha Mackie

Born and raised in Richmond, British Columbia, Sam grew up in the farmlands. Growing up on a farm there were always many animals around. She has always had a passion for the outdoors and has countless hours of experience working with all types of animals. Sam spends time riding her horse Hope and with her many other pets such as two guinea pigs, a cat, dog and bird. Sam was previously working as a veterinary assistant for just over a year and learned a great deal of important things about both dogs and cats. In the future she hopes to pursue her education in the veterinary field.