Featured Team Member:
Dr. Samantha Sanford has always been an animal lover and growing up spent most of her free time horseback riding or volunteering at her neighbor’s dog kennel. She has always been passionate about helping animals in need. Much of her free time leading up to and throughout vet school was spent working with animal rescue groups and shelters.
She grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. She attended Acadia University in Nova Scotia where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Kinesiology. She then went on to complete her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, Canada. After graduating she worked in Nova Scotia for four years, before moving to Iowa with her family in 2018. Dr. Sanford has a special interest in feline medicine, and a soft place in her heart for senior kitties. She is also a certified Fear Free Pet Professional and takes pride in minimizing stress and anxiety in her patients. After 5 years in private practice Dr. Sanford is excited to transition to a different aspect of veterinary medicine and be able to help improve the health and well being of so many animals in her community.
Dr. Sanford shares her home with her husband, their dog (Juno) and their two cats (Mugsy and Flicka). When she is not busy being a vet, she enjoys spending time outside, exploring new places, cycling, running and being with her friends and family.
Joined IHA: May 2016
I have always had a love for animals, and I got that trait from my dad. I grew up on a beef farm, where I would help him with chores over the years. It was always a family affair, and we would all help with sorting cattle or feeding all the bottle calves (which was my favorite). He is a great caretaker of the land and his cattle, but what really resonated with me was his passion for his herd. He would spend countless hours with them making sure they were healthy, and would go to great lengths for their care if needed. My dad instilled many traits in me; including his work ethic, passion, dedication, and respect for his animals. He is one of the many reasons as to why I work with animals.
Dashawn, Veterinary Assistant
Joined IHA: Summer 2019, 2020
I went to Jamaica often as a kid. In Jamaica there is a large population of stray dogs. I’ve always wanted to take care of these dogs, especially the puppies, since there was no interest from the public to interact with them. I learned that once these dogs were fed, they became your friend, so I did this often and found out I wanted to continue helping animals. This desire to work with animals grew even more when the summers would end and I would go back to New York, where I didn’t own pets due to apartment rules and didn’t really see them much in the Bronx.
IHA was my first introduction to the non-profit world of animal health care. I find it very rewarding to provide these services to the public while also making sure that we aren’t breaking their wallet. It’s nice to see how much IHA cares and goes out of their way to provide these services to shelters all across Eastern Iowa, picking up animals and then returning them back spayed/neutered. They go the extra mile!
Joined IHA: October 2017
Growing up in the country I was surrounded by cattle and horses, and we had a dog and some barn cats. I always loved caring for them and learning as much as I could. I came to work at a pet store and had to answer or help assist in solving so many different situations that pet parents would find themselves in. We had two vet technicians and several associates that had been working with animals of all kinds for so long that they seemed to have an answer for everything. I loved listening to them and learning the tricks and hints they had found. I was also required to help in the grooming salon attached to the store, and it was there that I learned about calming stressed animals and being able to react without affecting the animals while keeping everyone safe. They started requesting my help more frequently because of my calm and positive demeanor. There was also units for adoptable cats and I would interact with the different volunteers from various shelters and would hear about how overrun they were and how so many still needed help.
I’m incredibly passionate about taking part at IHA because of my experience working in shelter environments where euthanasia of healthy animals happened on a regular basis. Working for IHA has created a way for me to make an impact on animals and humans lives in my own community as well as communities around the state. I’m extremely proud to be a part of it.
Before coming to IHA, I worked with multiple shelters and rescues in the corridor area which has helped shape me to be the team member I am. I’ve had the experience of working with thousands of animals with all very different backgrounds. I’m extremely dedicated to rescue work and the well-being of animals overall.
Joined IHA: January 2013
Growing up I always had an affinity for animals. I LOVED doing chores and getting messy, much better than housework, which my older sister was stuck doing. I was attached to the cats and dogs, and their babies. I can’t explain why I am drawn to animals. I can go all week working with them, but end up seeing a dog at someone’s house and insisting on saying hi or petting him. Animals are honest. I appreciate that. I love pretty much any animal.
My favorite part of my job is knowing the more wild, or barn cats, will be healthier at this same time next year. When I had the mobile unit I loved seeing the crazy, scrawny cats of the year before, now much mellower and thriving.
There are many things which prepared me for my role at IHA. I already did regular private practice Veterinary medicine for 8 years outside Seattle, WA. I also have done years of work at shelters where euthanasia of healthy animals happened almost daily during the heavy puppy and kitten season. I was part of it at one shelter, euthanizing a mom cat, then her kittens, broke my heart. That is when I decided I would do what I could to make euthanasia of healthy animals unnecessary.
Joined IHA: September 2011
There are so many reasons why I LOVE working at IHA! Our work here is making a positive impact for animal welfare in the community and it is extremely rewarding to be able to actually have solutions to offer animals and their people. Every day I work for the thing that I am most passionate about! My days are rich and full.
Katie, Veterinary Assistant
Joined IHA: Summers 2017 – 2020
I knew from a young age that I wanted to work with animals in some capacity but wasn’t sure how. My goal now is to become a veterinarian (I start veterinarian school this Fall!), so Iowa Humane Alliance provides great experience. IHA provides a much needed service to the community through reducing the number of breeding animals in Eastern Iowa. While I truly love every part of my job, I especially love seeing an entire litter coming in together when they are reunited from various foster/adoptive homes for their spay and neuter appointments.
I am pictured with Molly (chocolate lab) and Sparki (terrier mix). Sparki showed up on our doorstep nearly 10 years ago and never left! I showed her for several years in 4-H Dog Shows, while she tolerated obedience classes, she loved agility! Molly is missing a hind leg due to cancer, but gets around just fine and has been cancer free for over a year and a half!
There are so many moments in my job that inspire me. Every person who brings in an animal shares an understanding with our staff as we work to better our community and our pets’ way of life. The pets themselves always brighten my day, from their creative names to their cuddly personalities. It is with the cooperation of everyone: the client, the animal, and my amazing team members that make this such a positive atmosphere.
I’m pictured with my beautiful big boy, Geppetto. The old saying, “You don’t choose your pet, your pet chooses you” is the epitome of our story. Geppetto was a stray who wandered onto a family member’s farm. He was affectionate, friendly, and would make the perfect pet. Once my mother heard of him, she gladly accepted a new home for him-mine!
Joined IHA: October 2014
I like all aspects of my job with IHA, from entering animals, to invoicing the animals, to the phone appointments.
I enjoy working with people to help them get their pets spayed, neutered and vaccinated and to see the smile on their face knowing that their pet will be healthy. I love working with animals and with clients to give them an understanding of vaccinations and the importance of spaying and neutering their animals to keep them healthy.
Joined IHA: May 2015
I love all animals, feathered, scaled, and furry, and was taught to respect all life at a very young age. Growing up, my family pets were my companions and my best friends. I knew early on that I wanted to spend my life helping the creatures I loved. Like many other children, I was going to grow up to be a veterinarian. That direction changed gradually through my education and experience, which lead me to Iowa Humane Alliance (IHA).
I am pictured with Molly, my 9 ½ year old Newfoundland. I adopted Molly from Cedar Valley Humane Society. I had never adopted a senior dog before, but I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. I knew we needed each other and so nearly a week later, I brought her home. She was instantly part of our family. She has been simply a joy, and has even helped our cats become less afraid of large dogs! I am so grateful that we found each other.
Joined IHA: July 2015
My favorite part about my job is knowing that we are able improve the quality of so many animal’s lives through spaying and neutering. It is an amazing feeling to be a part of a hardworking team that is able to make such a big impact for animals in our community as well as the communities that we are able to reach out to.
Dr. Sheryl Arensdorf
Joined IHA: January 2014
I initially joined IHA as an Associate Veterinarian in 2014. I have since returned to private practice, but still assist as a relief for the other veterinarians and help with outreach events. I graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2000. My past experience is in private small animal practice in Moline, Illinois and Cedar Rapids. The best part about working at IHA is that instead of the employees only working toward individual goals, we are all working together as a team to end pet overpopulation. I also enjoy making feral cats healthier by spaying/neutering and vaccinating them; especially knowing that this may be their only chance to receive veterinary care.
I am pictured with my 13 year old cat, Denny. I feel fortunate to be part of IHA.
Joined IHA: January 2013
During my career in animal welfare, I had worked at two municipal shelters and saw the full spectrum of animal care. I held the role of veterinarian technician, volunteer coordinator, humane investigations officer, adoption counselor, natural disaster rescuer, and cared for thousands of cats and dogs.
I was working in Upstate New York when Mary phoned and asked me to come work at Iowa Humane Alliance. Mary said that the clinic was scheduled to open in 8 weeks and that 5,000 surgeries would be performed in the first year. I thought, WOW, how amazing. I did a little research on high quality, high volume, low cost spay/neuter clinics and everything suddenly became so clear. Somewhere around 12,000 surgeries performed, I became the Director of Clinic Operations. Currently, I am the Executive Director of IHA, overseeing all—and we’re just over 31,000 operations.
Joined IHA: March 2018
My passion for animals started at a very young age. I’ve always grown up around dogs and felt a strong connection to them. I knew wherever my career took me it would involve animals in some way or another. When I came across the opportunity to work for Iowa Humane Alliance, I didn’t think twice. I knew this would be an amazing opportunity. I believe so strongly in the IHA mission statement and to share a common dedication with everyone who works here is so rewarding. I love that every day is different. Our clients are amazing and to meet so many wonderful pet parents who are very appreciative of what we do is one of my favorite parts of the job. I knew a career with IHA would be a perfect fit for me. I have a background in office management and event planning along with multiple years of dog care and volunteer work with our local animal rescue organizations. I’ve worked with all types of animals and currently have 2 cats (Meows and Steve), and 8 year old pit bull (Bella, pictured with me) and 2 ball pythons (Marvin and Lilly).