The Rover Oaks Houston Team


steve-smithSteve Smith, Director of Operations
Steve is the Director of Operations at Rover Oaks Pet Resort. In the late 1990’s Steve, like many pet owners, began to recognize the need for a world-class pet resort in Houston where owners could leave their furry family members and have confidence in the quality of care they would receive. Partnering with a local dog trainer who brought the concept of a pet resort to his attention, Steve began researching the pet care industry, surveying local pet owners, developing a solid business plan, and planning a state-of-the-art facility. Nearly two years later, the first Rover Oaks Pet Resort location (i.e., Rover Oaks Houston) opened its doors on October 15, 2001, and Rover Oaks Katy followed on September 11, 2006. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in exercise science from Wake Forest University. Prior to his entry into the pet world, Steve enjoyed a very successful career in corporate health promotion where he was responsible for managing fitness and wellness centers for companies including Coca-Cola, Minute Maid, Abbott Laboratories, Enron, Chevron, and Citibank. He also held a full-time position as consultant to the National Center of the American Heart Association for three years prior to entering the doggy world.  Steve and his wife Patti live with Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and their loveable rescue Rayford.  Kodak and Fresca, their beloved German Shepherds, and Perky (all pictured above) traveled over the rainbow several years ago.

claire-ellingtonClaire Ellington, General Manager
As General Manager of Rover Oaks Houston, Claire is responsible for managing the staff and overseeing all daily operations including lodging, daycare, grooming, training, and customer service. Claire spent the first 25 years of her working life in the high-tech industry, wishing she could work with pets instead. Her dream came true in 2010 when she joined Rover Oaks and she hasn’t looked back.  Claire is allowed to live with, and serve, several demanding cats and dogs.

Lori Young, Resort Manager
Lori joined the Rover Oaks team in 2006 and has worked several positions within the company including Pet Care Technician, Lodging Supervisor, Customer Service Representative, and Training Manager. After her success in managing the training department, Lori took over as the Resort Manager in 2014. Prior to joining the company, Lori held jobs at a Houston area shelter, a local Animal Control agency, and a veterinarian clinic, as well as positions in Retail Management. In her free time Lori enjoys running, surfing, yoga, and hanging out with her cats.

Elliot Lara
Doggie Daycare Manager

Elliot joined the Rover Oaks team in 2012 as a Pet Care Technician in the Lodging Department.  She later advanced to Pet Care Supervisor and then to Assistant Pet Care Manager before becoming our Doggie Daycare Manager.  She has known from a child that her life would be dedicated to animals and it was not a hard choice to join the Rover Oaks team.  Currently she has experience with dogs, cats, horses, cows, goats, fish, birds, snakes and small animals.  She shares her home with five dogs, two cats, a snake, a parrot, two rats, a turtle, and an aquarium full of fish.  Sid, a cattle dog mix; Taiko, a border collie mix; Harliquin, a Doberman; Beanz, a lab mix; Frieda, a Chihuahua; Cleo and Scully, the cats; OB, the snake; Sam, the Mexican red headed parrot; Trick and Treat, a Fancy and a Dumbo rat; and last but not least, HD, the Red Eared Slider. In her spare time, Elliot enjoys participating in various dog sports such as agility, obedience, and fly ball with her pups, and volunteering with rescues in Houston, fostering dogs and attending adoptions events.

Brynne Feldman
Community Relations Manager

Brynne joined the Rover Oaks team in 2011 as Community Relations Manager.  She has widespread experience in marketing, advertising, social media and event planning with companies such as Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Convio and Austin Film Festival. She realized her passion for animals while volunteering with Town Lake Animal Center in college; and now has her dream job where she can combine her experience in marketing and events with her love for pets! Brynne is proudly owned by her French Bulldog, Leela, who can usually be found napping in her lap while she works in her office. Brynne is a Texas native and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she received degrees in Advertising and Business.

sherry-nicksSherry Nicks
Spa Manager & Pet Stylist

Sherry is our Grooming Salon Manager and talented Pet Stylist. She has been in the grooming industry for 25 years, and prior to her work as a groomer and stylist, she was a veterinary technician for 8 years. Interestingly, Sherry started her career working with children, and then focused on special needs children. However, she soon wanted to follow her passion and moved on to animals. Before working as a vet tech and a groomer, she actually began her training in wild life rehabilitation. Sherry joined the Rover Oaks Houston team in 2009, and has lots of children: “Brooklyn” (Chihuahua), “Greenlee” (Pomeranian), “Morgan” (African Gray parrot), and two box turtles “Gunther” and “Mrs Marywood.”

terri-weddingTerri Wedding
Pet Care Manager

Terri came to Rover Oaks in 2007 with 20 years of hands-on experience in the pet care industry.   Terri first worked in the veterinary field for over 14 years as a Veterinary Technician and Office Manager.  Then, before joining Rover Oaks Pet Resort , she served as General Manager for a Houston area boarding kennel for 5 years.  Besides dogs and cats, Terri also has experience in the care of fish, reptiles, birds, and small animals. She has spent most of her working life dedicated to pet care in one form or another and is a knowledgeable and valuable member of Rover Oaks.  When not working, Terri enjoys reading, ice hockey, music, and spending time with her favorite furry friend, “Ivy”. 

rachel-johnstonRachel Johnston
Client Relations Manager

Rachel has a big personality and a very diverse background.  Prior to coming to Rover Oaks, she had spent a total of 22 years in customer service, including 7 years with Delta Airlines. However, Rachel is also a certified correctional officer; she worked in a police dispatch unit; and she served as a certified animal control officer for Sugar Land for 3 years. She joined Rover Oaks in 2006 as a Customer Service Representative. After a brief period away from the Rover Oaks team, she returned in 2009; and, within a short period of time, Rachel promoted to Customer Service Manager. She is the mother of 5 children (4 boys and 1 girl) and the owner of a chocolate Lab, black Chow, and a very cute Pomeranian (not to mention the horses, cows, chickens, cats and reptiles that she has owned in the past!)

toni-bakerToni Baker
Reservations Manager

Toni leads our reservations team with her passion and enthusiasm for our clients and their beloved pets. Toni loves meeting new clients and showing them all that Rover Oaks has to offer.  Toni joined the Rover Oaks Team in 2009, and came with 21 years of experience in customer service and animal welfare management.  Toni is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, where she discovered a passion for helping homeless animals early in her career. Toni led the New Orleans SPCA as their Adoptions Manager, where she spent many years helping homeless pets find new homes. Toni moved to Houston in 2005 after losing her home to Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after, she joined the team at Houston Humane Society as their Adoptions Manager and continued her passion for helping homeless pets. Toni lives with her  Yorkshire Terrier named Lucky that she adopted from the Louisiana SPCA. In her spare time, she loves attending and working in her church, and going to movies.


shawnell-minShawnell Dodson
Customer Service Manager
Shawnell joined the Rover Oaks Team in 2015 and leads our customer service team. Shawnell has over twelve years in customer service and retail management experience with companies including Starbucks, Lowes and Whole Foods. Shawnell has a degree in Psychology and is level I certified in pet care through Outstanding Pet Care Learning Center (OPCLC).  Shawnell and her husband Ryan have two sons, Ethan and Collin, and they share their home with a rescue pug/tzu named Noodles and a baby pug named Pickles. Shawnell is very excited to start her journey here with her new Rover Oaks Family, both humans and doggies!

Michelle ArnoldMichelle Arnold
Employee Development Manager
Michelle joined the Rover Oaks Team in 2015 and is our Employee Development Manager. She has over five years of educational and curriculum development experience as a former Houston ISD teacher and Humane Education Manager for the Houston SPCA. Michelle, a Houston native, attended Rice University and earned a degree in Biological Sciences. She is currently an active community associate for Rice University and has so much fun helping new students acclimate to Houston and make new connections. Michelle shares her love of animals with her husband, Frank, and enjoys spending time with their two rescue dogs, Lily and Doug, as well as their two rescued chinchillas, Flipper and Dipper.