Board of Directors
Jen Uecker – President
Jen and her husband Cole are longtime residents of Pierre. Her busy household also includes 2 teenage boys, a 100lb Pit/Lab, a three year old German Shepard, 4 cats, and a bearded dragon. She became involved with PAWS when her family returned to Pierre after a few years of living in Yankton and was elected to the board in March 2017. She and the boys were active volunteers at Heartland Humane Society in Yankton. Jen is firm believer that the community must come together to take care of all living things. Her favorite moments so far have been watching the compassion of all the volunteers and witnessing the joy as animals find their forever homes. Jen can be found spending most of her time as General Manager of Dairy Queen. In her spare time, she’s working with Cole on any one of the continuous remodeling projects on their home. Jen is excited to share her event planning and fundraising experience with PAWS!
Melita Hauge – Vice President
Melita has been a member of PAWS for 8 years. In addition to the duties of the Vice President, she works as the Dog Adoption Coordinator helping to make sure the dogs are adopted into a good furever home.
Having been a life long resident of Pierre, Melita was originally involved with the Pierre Humane Society when they were located down by the current softball fields in a small shack. PAWS is now in a full service building that can care for dogs and cats in a clean, climate controlled environment until they can be adopted to a loving family.
In order to keep our Shelter doors open, Melita and the many volunteers at the Shelter host fundraising dinners 5-6 times a year. The monies collected from these dinners and the many donations that the community of Pierre/Ft. Pierre make to the Shelter, help to keep the dogs and cats in food, medicine and care. If you have a love of cats and/or dogs and want to become part of a great volunteer organization, the PAWS Animal Rescue can use your help. We are always in need of volunteers to help care for our animals.
Kristi Thompson – Treasurer
Kristi has lived in Pierre most of her life, minus when she lived in Sioux Falls for college. She received an Associate’s degree in Business Entrepreneurship from Southeast Tech in 2015. Since graduating, she has moved back and currently works for the state in a job she loves. She has 2 pups and 2 kitties of her own including PAWS alumni Popeye!
She has always had an intense love for animals. As a young child, she went from dreaming of being a veterinarian, to wanting to be an animal cop, to wanting to own and run her own animal shelter. She started volunteering with PAWS in 2018 and was elected to the board as treasurer in January of 2020. In addition to treasurer duties, Kristi likes to spend time with all the dogs and cats at the shelter as much as she can. She also works as the Dog Volunteer Coordinator to ensure that the dog volunteer shifts are covered every week.
She hopes to see a day where PAWS services are no longer needed in our community but is happy to be there for all the sweet souls in need until that time comes!
Jenna Schiefelbein – Secretary
Jenna has been involved with Paws in various capacities since 2015 when she moved to Pierre. She is a lover of all animals, but dogs hold a special spot in her heart. The thing she enjoys most about being involved with Paws is getting the animals into amazing homes to spend the rest of their lives.
Molly Jahraus – Board Member
I have been involved with Paws Animal Rescue for many, many years. I began volunteering with the cats. As I became more involved, I was asked to work as feline coordinator. With the help of our many wonderful volunteers at the shelter we are able to provide for the the cats in our care a loving place to be while they wait for their forever homes.
I remember the early days of our rescue organization and want to say that Paws Animal Rescue has grown into an absolutely wonderful organization that is devoted to the welfare and care of the cats and dogs in our shelter.
Lynn Valenti – Board Member
Lynne Valenti lives in Pierre and has four kids; two live in Sioux Falls and two are in Riggs High School.
I have been a volunteer working with our cats for about two years. I became a volunteer after adopting three cats from PAWS and seeing how great the Organization is and how committed the volunteers are to saving and caring for our area’s homeless cats and dogs. I have always had a deep love for animals. It came to me at an early age from my dad, who was a police officer. He would often bring home strays that he had picked up when the City Pound was full. Some we would keep, while others we would care for until we could find them a home for them. I can’t imagine my life or family without the furry, four-legged members in it.
Ariana Griffey – Board Member