Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
It's estimated that only 27% of college graduates are actually working in a field related to their degree. Daniela Iancu is one of that 27% — but she didn't plan it that way.
"When I finished college, I was actually intending to get a Master's degree in Library Science," she says. Instead, she ended up getting a Masters in Community Leadership — which she only recently realized she is now using.
"Oh wait — I'm doing that very thing!" she laughs.
"That very thing" is bringing together animal welfare advocates, behaviorists, and health care providers for Animal Community Talks (ACT), a series of free presentations by professionals in the field. These presentations are Iancu's brainchild, designed to not only be an educational resource for those working and volunteering in animal welfare, but to help them create a more collaborative community.
"Going from field to field [in the animal care world] made me realize how disconnected the different areas were from each other," she explains. "For instance, when I worked at a veterinary clinic, and they saw a lot of a specific contagious disease coming from a local shelter, they were telling their clients not to adopt there — but not calling the shelter and telling them they were seeing this contagious disease."
Working with animals is also not something Daniela foresaw, especially growing up in a half-Romanian family that traveled frequently between the US and her father's home country.
"It was not a lifestyle that was conducive to [having] animals," she says. "And in Romania, animals are not looked at as pets in the same way. So I actually didn't have an animal until the end of college."
Nowadays, Daniela shares her home — a 1920s bungalow in North Portland — with her rescue cats Tiger Lily and Maya, and her husband Geoff Peterson, who volunteers his expertise in videography for ACT.
Their house is one of the things Daniela says brings her the most pride: she and her husband renovated it themselves. "We did a lot of really hardcore sweat-and-tears kind of work to get it remodeled," she says.
An affinity for the vintage and unusual is also reflected in Daniela's shoe of choice: a pair of multi-colored, ethically-produced slip-on Keen sneakers.
Professionally, Daniela says she's also proud of helping to establish the Cat Adoption Team (CAT) calendar as a successful fundraiser many years ago by getting the calendar distributed in some 30+ businesses. Seems even then — whether she realized it or not — she was putting those community leadership skills to work.
It was working at CAT that actually turned Daniela into an animal welfare advocate. "I really enjoyed doing adoptions, and I really enjoyed educating people. The only time I've really been good in front of a room full of people has been in that context."
The success of Animal Community Talks also brings Daniela a great deal of satisfaction — but as it grows, she is determined to see that the service remains free and accessible to everyone.
"The animal field does not pay very well, and I always lamented the fact that I couldn't do a lot of continuing education [in the past] because I was just trying to pay the bills." she says. "It's really important to me that nobody feels like they can't come because they can't afford it."
Currently, Daniela is a customer support professional for a veterinary telemedicine company and is hoping that one day — when she's able to bring herself to leave her beloved cats for more than a day — she and her husband can travel across Europe by train and indulge her blossoming interest in photography.
She also follows the budding animal rescue movement back in Romania, where there are small groups of volunteers desperately trying to help the many stray dogs in that country. "Basically what happened is that there were people who had dogs, and then the communists came and knocked down their houses to build Soviet-style apartments. Then all those people just let their unfixed dogs go," she explains. "Then you have feral dog packs running around attacking and killing people, so there's a lot of [public] support for the killing of those stray dogs."
Sounds like a place that could use a good community leader with a passion for animal welfare — if only her cats were willing to part with her.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Michele Coppola is a Portland-based air personality for 99.5 The Wolf and copywriter for Entercom Radio. When she's not talking, writing, or pursuing quality couch time with husband Bryon and their dogs, Cindy and Lucy, she's also a proud volunteer for Fences for Fido and Family Dogs New Life Shelter.
Photography Geoff Peterson - Geoff has B.A. in Film from PSU and a certificate from the NW Film Center. He is a filmmaker and photographer, and the primary videographer and editor for Animal Community Talks. Geoff lives in Portland with his wife and two cats.