Who We Are

About the Founders

The co-founders of Gray Paws Sanctuary are Darla Poole Brescia and Joe Brescia.

Darla grew up in Latrobe, a rural community east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was raised with cats, dogs, kangaroo rats, and even occasionally a few ducks or a raccoon! She always had a love of animals and hands-on experience caring for them.

Joe grew up in a more urban setting – the South Hills of Pittsburgh. The only pet he ever had growing up was a cat that he loved dearly. Joe had no idea what was in store for him when he met Darla in 1999. He always wanted a dog but little did he know he would care for and love nearly 40 dogs in his first 13 years of marriage!

Darla had two dogs when she met Joe and he absolutely fell in love with them! Lab mix Sassy and Schnauzer mix Mindy were soon accompanied by Mr. Mike – an 11-year-old blonde Husky that they adopted together from a local rescue. Darla and Joe have not stopped adopting dogs since then!

During the day – Darla is a Licensed, Master Level Social worker and Chief Operating Officer in a human services non-profit, Auberle. Joe owns and operates a gourmet food business based in Monroeville, PA called Sunrise Foods.

Our Board

Gray Paws Sanctuary is evolving every day! Our Board is comprised of compassionate, capable dog lovers!


Jim Lyons

Shop Foreman with 25 years of managerial and customer service experience. Shelter Volunteer 5 years and counting.

“After meeting Darla and Joe at a few of their events I knew that I wanted to become involved with Gray Paws and their mission to help senior dogs. The organization is so well run and their passion, commitment, and determination are inspiring. I am looking forward to getting to know the pack and the humans as well.”


Dawn Lewis

Non-Profit Training Administrator and Facilitator with 20+ years of experience

“It’s such an honor to serve on the board of an organization with a mission I so strongly believe in. These dogs deserve the amazing love and care they receive at Gray Paws Sanctuary.”


Gayle Sarver-Volz

Accounting/Financial Management Professional with 30+ years of experience

“The passion the founders have for the Sanctuary is reciprocated by the love shown in the Senior Dogs’ eyes. As a dog lover, it is an honor to see this and be involved in the mission of Gray Paws.”


Christine Ann McClellan

Non-Profit Business Manager with 30+ years of experience

“I’m so thankful for being a part of Gray Paws! How lucky am I to be the puppy auntie who shows up to give treats and give more treats when I leave. Old dogs are amazing they just want to hang out and be loved.”


Mary Ann Slagle

Non-Profit Information Technology and Finance with 20+ years of experience

“I joined the Gray Paws Sanctuary Board because our faithful old companions deserve loving compassionate care in the autumn of their lives. Wouldn’t they give it to us?”


Sandi Hudson

Occupational Therapist for 20 years * Former Fundraising Committee Co-chair * Shelter volunteer/Animal Rescue

“I feel honored to be surrounded by the compassionate and gracious souls involved with Gray Paws Sanctuary. We all love our animals and we can all take comfort in knowing that the special dogs at Gray Paws, who at one time may not have been so fortunate, will complete their time on earth in the most loving and safe environment possible. Darla & Joe’s commitment to these dear dogs is both admirable and inspiring.”


Renea A. Douglas Shine

Customer Executive and Fundraiser with 20+ years of experience

“I feel so blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization. It’s truly a pleasure to be a part of such an unselfish and caring mission. I have seen the suffering in the older dog’s eyes with my prior shelter experience and it does my heart good to know there are amazing people like Darla & Joe out there taking care of God’s older little ones with Gray Paws Sanctuary!”


Ginny Merchant

Shelter volunteer with 20+ years of experience. “Fundraiser” – Passionate advocate for Senior Dogs

“I am honored to be an advocate for this wonderful organization. As a Mom to senior dogs and a foster parent to many more, there is a special place in my heart for this cause. I am excited to work with the other wonderful members of the board and Gray Paws’ loving founders to help bring more awareness to this loving population of dogs we all love.”


Joanne Feldmeier

Over 30 years of experience in sales/marketing administration. 10+ years of experience in animal shelter and rescue fundraising and publicity.

“It is a privilege to work with such dedicated leaders providing niche services so truly needed. I have seen younger dogs getting second chances and feel the seniors deserve them. They have earned their right to be loved and coddled to the end – and the Brescias have the compassion and courage to do just that. I look forward to the future – as can many senior dogs, thanks to Gray Paws Sanctuary.”