Behind the Scenes | Key Volunteers

Behind the Scenes

Key Volunteers

Sonia Tapia / Lead Photographer

Sonia with dark glasses and a colorful air balloon as a background

Sonia has two cats and three dogs, all rescues from the street, family members and the shelter. She did not grow up with many animals however.  Due to limitations of apartment living, her animal buddies were limited to goldfish as a child. One day, her husband (then boyfriend) surprised her with an adorable, black puppy for her birthday. She instantly became an animal lover.

Sonia is a photographer who enjoys working with animals. She photographs adoptable dogs in order to facilitate adoptions. She believes all dogs deserve a warm bed and a loving home and hopes to help expand the program to make this possible.

Frank Wisneski / Lead Photographer

frankFrank Wisneski first picked up a camera 10 years ago when his daughter was an infant. Since then he began shooting weddings and teaching photography at a local photography school. His wife works for, so when a photographer friend asked him to come help out in the winter of 2010 at a UH4A Glamor shot day, he jumped at the chance to help get dogs adopted, knowing and understanding the value of a good photograph.

Frank shares his home with his wife, type 1 diabetic daughter, son, a rescued Great Dane, a 16 year old rescued terrier, a rescued black lab diabetic alert dog, and another salvaged black lab diabetic alert dog.

Paul Knight / Lead Photographer

paul120Paul Knight joined UHA in the spring of 2011 as a photographer, and has been enriched with the welcome arms of all the volunteers and leaders of this band of incorrigibles. It wasn’t until after he photographed his first batch of dogs at the Baldwin Park Shelter for “Glamour Day” that he realized what an awesome responsibility he held. Paul has embraced the responsibility and volunteer work with his friends at UHA as a personal crusade to help as many shelter animals, which are abandoned, lost or simply discarded, find salvation.

Paul graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in Hospitality Management, yet has spent most of his working career in the graphic arts industry as a salesman, a technical consultant, business owner, designer and photographer, mainly servicing the Hotel industry.

Paul, shares a home with Diane his wife of 26 years, two daughters 17 and 22 yrs, three female felines, one senior titled, field-trained, female lab retriever in retirement, and a fish called Gracie.

Maria Kumlander / Photographer

mariaMaria was born and raised in Southern California. She has been volunteering with UHA since 2011. She spent her childhood out in the barn with dogs, cats, horses, cows, chickens, and rabbits, goats, and many other creatures we had and loved. So her heart has always loved and cared for animals.

Maria has been involved with dogs her whole life as a dog trainer for many years. She also as been involved in wildlife rescue. Maria is a photographer and believes that being able to capture that great photo of a dog or cat can make a huge difference in finding them a home. That is why Maria is so excited to be part of a UHA.

Dan Cuadra / Photographer

DanCuadra120Dan is a native of Los Angeles and an animal lover who has been working with UHA as a photographer since 2011. He volunteers regularly at multiple shelters in and around LA, including Baldwin Park, Downey, and North Central.

He is a graduate of Southern California Institute of Architecture and works as a mechanical engineer and technical illustrator for a small company in Marina Del Rey. His background also includes many years of experience in fabrication technology, graphic design, and photography. As a primarily hobby photographer, Dan first contacted UHA looking for a useful cause to dedicate his time and skill to. As a long time dog lover, he has been immensely pleased with the opportunities provided by UHA to participate in saving the lives of his favorite animals.

Marissa de la Torre / Photographer, Meetup Group Manager, Advocate

Marissa120Marissa is originally from the Bay Area in Northern California, but now calls Downtown Los Angeles her home. You can often see her roaming the Arts District, taking photos of dogs and people on the sidewalk or walking her rat terrier mix, Cheri. She has been a part of the UHA family for since October 2011.

Marissa graduated from San Francisco State with a Broadcasting degree. She has been working for internet/entertainment companies for the past five years. Marissa began doing rescue work at the Berkeley SPCA in 2009. Her true love is with dogs, so when not working she tries to network the homeless pups and hang out with as many doggies as she can wherever she goes! Marissa loves Ella Fitzgerald, cake, and beer, and says she doesn’t trust humans who don’t like dogs or Prince (the artist).

Lesley McCave / Writer

lesleyAlthough Lesley is a native of England, known as a nation of dog lovers, her affection for canines began in Spain, when she would feed stray animals during her summer holidays in Almería. Her family’s lab mix, Jenny, lived to the ripe old age of 16. Since moving to LA, Lesley and her husband have gained two ex-shelter dogs: Quark, a naughty black Patterdale terrier/dachshund mix rescued from the East Valley, and Crosby, a white fluffy Westie mix formerly of Baldwin Park.

Lesley networks dogs – and the occasional cat, bunny, guinea pig and snake that catches her eye – on Facebook and Twitter (for Animal Advocates, UHA’s ‘sister’ organization), and in her spare time is a food/ travel/lifestyle writer and editor.