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.

Rachelle Biever

Social Digital Specialist

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.

Tricia Sverre

Customer Sales Representative

Certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP) and a professional member of APDT (The Association of Professional Dog Trainers).

Tricia is owner of Canine Align and is a double-certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA and KPA-CTP). She takes a kind approach to dog training with the ultimate goal of aligning dogs and their owners. From working in a shelter environment as an Animal Behaviour Counsellor, Tricia has witnessed first-hand the frustrations that lead to animals being surrendered. Tricia aims to reduce the number of dogs who end up in shelters through her seminars, group, and private training sessions.

Tricia received her certifications through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers and Karen Pryor Academy. When not working with dogs or new Release the Hounds clients, you can find Tricia by the ocean or in the mountains with her rescue dog, Baloo.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kathleen O’Halloran

Kathleen was born and raised in the lower mainland, and spent summers at her family cabin in the Cariboo. She has always surrounded herself with as many animals as possible by participating in equestrian sports, pet sitting, and working at horse stables with her dogs, Clancy and Josie in tow.

Kathleen recently returned from backpacking through Europe, and now she and Josie are excited to start their next adventure with Release the Hounds in Surrey.

Julie McGouran

Julie relocated to Vancouver from Edmonton in 2016, leaving behind a career in the oilfield to find a better life closer to the mountains and forests around the lower mainland. She has had, and cared for pets of all kinds over the years. Julie is excited to work at Release the Hounds as it allows her to care for and ‘hang out’ with dogs all day. The opportunity to take pups for hikes in the forests and mountains combines two o her passions, making for an incredible career experience.

Kelan Oldenburg

Born and raised in Coquitlam, BC, Kelan has had a passion for the outdoors since he was a child. From mountain biking to snowboarding, he has always enjoyed every opportunity to get out into the beautiful nature around the greater Vancouver area. Kelan studied environmental sciences for 2 years at Douglas college and has a great interest in the many environmental issues of today. With an adventurous spirit and a love for all animals big and small, dog walking was the perfect fit for him.

Jennifer Dunbar

Jennifer, born and raised in London Ontario, has been traveling for the last 6 years and does not plan to stop the adventure. She has always had a way with animals, most recently working closely with the street dogs in Thailand to lower the numbers of dogs on the street, increase their health and raise awareness around the world. She loves the outdoors and can’t get enough of the beautiful west coast mountains, beaches and everything in between! With the opportunity to be outside all day, exploring the mountains in the company of dogs, big and small, Release the Hounds is the perfect fit for her!

Paige Downton

Paige grew up in the small town of Bowmanville Ontario, where her passion for animals started to grow! She took in many stray cats over the years, and eventually added her chocolate lab Tucker to the family.

After moving to Toronto and pursuing a decade long career in the service industry, it was time for change. Working a few seasons away from home in Jasper Alberta helped her make the  decision to leave and relocate to the west coast. Release the Hounds was the perfect place for her to turn her passions for animals, and the outdoors into a career.  In her spare time she enjoys exploring BC’s beautiful back country, cooking/eating, and crafting with her cat Sonny.

Karina Okazaki

Born and raised in Brazil, Karina moved to Vancouver in 2015. She has always loved animals and had all sorts of pets like bunnies, fishes, turtles and dogs. After graduating from Law School, she realized that caring for dogs and connecting to nature was her true calling in life. In 2014, she started her own dog walking business in her hometown, where she fell in love with the career. After dogs, her interests are dancing and keeping a healthy diet (including her dogs’). She is excited to be working at Release the Hounds and being part of the team!

Debbie Lewis

Debbie is from Glasgow, Scotland and arrived in Canada in 2015. After travelling the length of Canada and living for 3 months in Golden, B.C. she arrived in Vancouver in 2016. Originally here for just 2 years she loves the west coast so much she has decided to stay.

Debbie has trained as, and worked as a florist for over 5 years. She recently decided to change her career and fulfill her ambition of working with animals and in the great outdoors.

Having been born on the doorstep of the Scottish highlands Debbie has always been an avid hiker and loves nothing more than putting on her waterproofs and going for a walk in the rain. She also loves animals having kept horses when she was younger and looked after her beloved toy poodle, Bruce, who was only ever allowed to sleep on her bed.

She longs for the day she can finally persuade her boyfriend to get her own wee dog but she’s delighted that she can now spend all her days working with yours.

Jerry Huang

Although Jerry was born in Taiwan, he was raised camping around the mountains of B.C. He spent 2 years at Douglas college studying sport science, and still continues his studies on his own to this day. His spare time is mostly spent reading and working out, always seeking to improve himself. With the chance to get away from the books and back out into the mountains with his furry friends, Release the Hounds is the perfect fit for him!

Mitchell Morin

Growing up in the sunny Okanagan with a big backyard, Mitch always loved walks and play time with his family dogs.

Having recently moved to Vancouver, he is very excited to combine his love of dogs and the outdoors with Release the Hounds.

 

 

Harrison Drew

Growing up in Southern Ontario, Harrison found a love for outdoor activities and landscapes. As a lifelong soccer player, foodie, amateur photographer, and private pilot, Harrison enjoys trying a little bit of everything. He is new to Vancouver, having moved here in 2017 when his fiancée was transferred to a new office, and has fallen in love with the city. From the food, to the culture, to the scenery, Vancouver is now his home.

He has always loved dogs, growing up around many and adopting a childhood best friend, who he was able to grow alongside for 15 years. The best feeling is being able to give a dog a happy and loving forever-home, which is why Harrison now has three dogs he calls family: two in Ontario with his mum and one here in Vancouver with him and his fiancée. He wholeheartedly supports dog-rescue organizations, as these pups can be the most understood, but are more than deserving of the love and attention offered to other dogs. A good home, love, and compassion are all these pups need to grow into their happy and confident personalities.

Paul Duchart

Paul was born in Toronto and came to Vancouver as a child. Raised with 2 dogs and 2 cats in the household, animals were always around. Most recently his best friend was an 18 year old lovebird named Pesto. Paul has a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa and can also be seen as an actor on locally shot film and television shows. You can also read his monthly column in BCBusiness Magazine photographing the best parties, galas and events in Vancouver. In his spare time he is a cameraman with The Travel Guys TV show and has travelled to more than 20 countries including Norway, Japan, Australia, China, Malaysia, Ireland, England and a visit to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. He has 6 years experience as a dog walker/cat sitter in the past and came back to the industry because he missed his furry friends and is now excited to work with Release the Hounds.

Private Walkers

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.

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.

Darren Dorrington

Darren was born and raised in the small town of Orangeville, Ontario. Growing up with his best friend Tigger, a golden retriever, Darren quickly found his love and compassion for animals in the early stages of life. After Darren graduated college with a 3D Graphics, Design, and Animation degree, the path he was walking on lead him west, where he has worked hard to settle down in the heart of Vancouver. While still creating 3D projects, Darren recently joined our team in September 2017, and says he has found himself a dream job. Walking along the beach in the morning and ending his day in the woods with his new best friends.

Chris Coulson

Born in Nanaimo BC, Chris lived in a few cities around the Yukon and interior British Columbia before moving back to his home town. He grew up around the family dogs, 2 labs, Hardy and Dawson and an Australian cattle dog, Taz. On his 10th birthday he got his best friend Lambert, a yellow lab, who helped fuel his love for dogs and animals in general. After graduating high school, Chris moved out to Vancouver where he went to school for Audio Engineering at SAE Vancouver. While he still continues to make music on his off hours, he’s extremely excited to be able to enjoy the outdoors with his new furry friends and thinks Release the hounds is the perfect place for him.

Shanni Smith

Born in Australia and raised in Nanaimo, walks outside in nature have always been a big part of Shanni’s life. Now living in Vancouver, nature walks and strolls through city parks is still a constant for her everyday life. Having lived an active, vegan lifestyle the past few years have pushed her to keep pursuing her dreams and passions; taking care of animals and her health. She is excited to continue her passion by walking dogs with Release the Hounds!

Christie Burnett

Christie was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and grew up spending time in nature hiking and exploring. Her family has always had pets, and she loved taking her dogs for walks and spending time playing with them. She came to Vancouver in 2011 to pursue a degree in biology and fell in love with the city. In her free time, she spends her time reading at the beach, going on walks with her dog, doing puzzles, and exploring the beautiful nature in BC. Release The Hounds was the perfect fit to combine her love of dogs and being outdoors!

Lesley Levett

Lesley grew up in Vancouver with her lab/setter cross named Lady. She loved being outdoors in the woods and on the beaches of our city. Some of her best experiences were camping, fishing and beach combing. She has a great love for dogs and their unconditional loyalty. Lesley believes there is nothing better than a couple of dogs to act as your blanket and hot-water-bottle when you are sick in bed. Their therapeutic healing quality is like none other. When in the trails, she is ‘that person’ who stops to talk to and greet the dogs she meets along the way. She spent the last 40+ years sitting behind a desk and is now excited to get back to the outdoors with pups.