It’s not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. ~ Mother Teresa

Meet The Animal Protectorates’ leadership team- a diverse group sharing their knowledge from various professional sectors to help animals.

Members of the Board of Directors

Shelley Rios, Attorney At Law  (Founder)- Professional and Board President

Shelley rescued her first animal as a child – an abandoned kitten – from a grocery store parking lot.  With the help of an already nursing mama cat, the little kitten survived.  This early experience imprinted on her and kept a spark lit in her heart which only grew over her adult years. After achieving a successful real estate career in Los Angeles, Shelley wanted to devote more time helping animals and decided to re-enter school – focusing on law school as a way to have an impact.  The week after graduating, she plunged right in by working on strategy to help get legislation passed in local government to stop the sale of commercially bred (puppy-mill) animals in pet stores.  From there, Shelley founded The Animal Protectorates, opened  Operation Adopt (a rescue-only pet store) and formed the Animal Law Guild.  With enthusiastic approval from the Board of Directors, Shelley registered The Animal Protectorates also as a Tennessee charity when she and her husband, Sergio, relocated.  Shelley and Sergio donate space and staffing for TAPS animals at Friendsville Animal Center (a five-star boarding and day care facility located on 60 acres in the foothills of East Tennessee).

Laurie Newton, RN – Professional and Board Member

Laurie has been a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles for over 35 years.  She is a Certified Pediatric Nurse and cares for patients of all ages.  During her career, Laurie has been recognized with the DAISY Award given to exceptional nurses commended by leadership and peers for their compassionate care at the bedside of sick and injured children. Laurie and her husband Mark and two (now adult) children were the first TAPS fosters and have continued to be the temporary safe home for hundreds of orphaned pets – including being the point family for our Purple Collar Promise in Los Angeles.  Laurie served as Executive Director of Operation Adopt Los Angeles and has been instrumental in the early and continued growth of the organization.  With cooking and sharing food as her love language, Laurie has organized and hosted many event for TAPS and also provides prepared food to a local shelter who feed the homeless.

Mindy Stone – Professional and Board Member

Mindy’s lifelong commitment to animals began in high school where she volunteered for a local shelter and saw first-hand how the lives of animals are changed by small but determined rescue organizations.  That first volunteer opportunity turned into a life-long commitment. Mindy became involved with The Animal Protectorates through volunteering with her children at Operation Adopt Burbank, CA.  Mindy works at a non-profit school and is insightful about keeping the nonprofit running efficiently and also attracting youth to animal welfare issues.

Mark Newton, Attorney At Law – Professional and Board Secretary and Treasurer

Mark recently retired from a successful career as a business litigator at the Los Angeles based law firm of Barton, Klugman and  Oetting LLP and is now  pursuing his passion – coaching high school pole vaulting.  Mark’s wealth of knowledge and analytical skills have been instrumental in helping The Animal Protectorates chart a sustainable course with the highest degree of ethics and responsibility.  Mark and his wife Laurie enthusiastically volunteer with several charities throughout the Los Angeles area.

Dr. Sergio H. Rios, MVZ –  Professional and Board Member

Dr. Rios received his veterinary degree from the University of Guadalajara in 1985.  Shortly after he relocated to Southern California in 1989, he began helping companion animals in a supervisory position at Los Angeles Animal Services, one of the largest animal control agencies in the world. During his nearly 30 years of service, he not only was credited with helping to increase adoptions from less than 30% to a nearly 95% adoption rate through his out of the box ideas, but he was also one of the most respected supervisors in the department – both by staff and volunteers. Dr. Rios was recognized on many occasions by the Los Angeles City Council and multiple neighborhood groups for the compassion he displayed for both animals and people.  During his tenure with Los Angeles Animal Services and because of his experience with large animals, Dr. Rios was part of the D.A.R.T. team (Department Air Rescue Team) who specialized in emergency rescues during disasters such as fires and earthquakes and when animals were in precarious situations. He and his wife, Shelley, now in Tennessee, run a five-star boarding facility and donate space for The Animal Protectorates’ orphaned pets to stay and be cared for while waiting for a new family.

Susan Masterson – Professional and Board Member

Susan worked nearly 40 years as a healthcare and insurance industry executive for companies such as TeamHealth, Unum, and Optum/United Health Group – leading their talent acquisition teams.  She has served on the Board of Directors and led Committees for nonprofits such as Physician Housecalls, National Association of Physician Recruiters, American College Emergency Physicians, University of TN Chattanooga Business School and Association of Staff PHysician Recruiters.  Susan also volunteered and watched a small animal rescue organization in Nashville grow and flourish – igniting her desire to help animals.  Now retired, she and her husband, Parke, live in a lakefront community in the Knoxville area.  They enjoy their 3 children and 5 grandchildren and now Susan has the time to pursue her animal rescue passion.