Marcia Piotter - President
In 1976, Marcia graduated from Austin College in Texas with an Interdisciplinary Degree in Science. She considered veterinary school, but instead took a job with Phillips Petroleum Company. In 1981, she began working in the company’s Toxicology Department both in the regulatory field and later managing a group responsible for the preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets. Attending classes in the evenings, she obtained a Masters in Environmental Science from the University of Oklahoma in 1988. Around the same time she served briefly as the President of the Board of Directors for the local animal shelter in Bartlesville, OK.
Now married, over the next few years her two sons were born and the family transferred to Texas, then Utah and finally Singapore, then back to the Woodlands, Texas in 2006. When their adopted Singaporean street cat was lost upon their move to The Woodlands, Marcia was again struck by the desperate situation that homeless animals faced. At that time, our local shelter took in 24,000 animals yearly and did not have an adoption program.
Determined to help this change, and attuned to a logical approach, Marcia became a believer in the tenets of Nathan Winograd's no-kill equation; a straight forward, common sense approach that has been shown to be successful in several communities with open admission shelters. As a volunteer for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter she became the coordinator for their off-site adoption program. Focused on one of these no-kill programs, a Comprehensive Adoption Program, the off-site program grew to include 53 trained adoption coordinators and held anywhere from 5 to 20 off-site events each weekend. Marcia was awarded Volunteer of the Year for this work in 2009. Yet clearly, for her, this was not enough.
In December of 2010, feeling that she could progress more quickly toward our no-kill community dream from outside the umbrella of the shelter itself, several friends and like-minded individuals formed Operation Pets Alive! They have focused on programs that were under-serviced in our community – Spay and Neuter, TNR of feral cats, Foster/Adoption, and, an extension of animal rescue, Transport programs. Through these programs OPA has placed over 800 animals in homes and helped to alter an additional 1100+ cats and dogs.
Marcia's husband and two sons help her sustain her drive for a no-kill community. The family has one dog, adopted from MCAS that is also a pet therapy dog, an adopted polydactyl cat, and usually several foster animals.
Cathi Bruhn- Vice President and Secretary
Cathi Bruhn launched her “Dog Lady” career in 2001, after adopting a rescue dog. As founding member of Plaquemines Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.) in Belle Chasse, LA, in late 2002, she served on the P.A.W.S. board, organizing events, writing newsletters, and fostering dogs. In 2008, after moving to The Woodlands, she met Marcia Piotter at the Montgomery County Texas Animal Shelter (MCTAS) and joined Marcia’s Off-Site Adoption team, hauling dogs and equipment each weekend in her “Dog Lady Van”. In 2010, when Marcia Piotter launched Operation Pets Alive! (OPA), Cathi was ready to pitch in. As an OPA board member, Cathi volunteers for off-site events, assists with OPA’s social media as a Facebook admin and a photographer. With a BA in both Comparative Literature and Classical Civilization, Cathi’s work experience includes editorial positions in the transportation industry and media coordination for a statistical-process control company. Over the years, she has served in countless volunteer capacities, including church council member, vision team coordinator, PTO president, and as a dedicated Band Mom bus chaperone. Cathi has two nearly grown children, a supportive husband, and three rescue dogs of her own. Her specialty in fostering is little dogs. She adores cuddling the “little yappers” that come into the OPA program and loves talking to people about animal rescue. Through OPA, Cathi hopes to see Montgomery County shift to a no-kill animal sheltering model.
Ray Yepes- Treasurer
Ray Yepes is a graduate of Sam Houston State University where he holds both a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a master’s degree in Criminal Justice. Ray has over 18 years of experience in the criminal justice field. As a criminal investigations examiner, Ray has assisted and advised government agencies such as the FBI, the Secret Service, and the CIA in criminal investigations, high profile cases, and national security matters since 1995. Ray’s first digital forensic investigation dates back to 1995 while assisting the FBI in a child pornography case. Since then, Ray has conducted over 1000+ digital forensic investigations, including network forensics, mobile forensics, memory forensics, computer forensics, and firewall appliance forensics. In addition, he has served as Expert Witness on civil and criminal matters in both federal and local courts. Ray is currently the security director of an ASCLD (The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors) accredited laboratory for a fortune 200 company, where he oversees the handling of 1500+ cases per year. Ray is the father of a 12-year old daughter and four other kids of four-legged variety (one cat and three dogs). Ray and his family have lived in The Woodlands for 11 years now. Ray joined OPA in 2012 and since then, Ray has seen amazing growth and progress in OPA’s no-kill mission and is thrilled to be part of such an amazing organization. Today, Ray serves as the treasurer for OPA.
Ray’s passion for animals started at an early age, December 28, 1980 to be exact. He was only 10 years old, when he witnessed a group of teenagers torture a stray dog that was wandering the streets. Ray was infuriated by such actions and alone he fought the teenagers and rescued the dog. It was love at first sight; Ray named her “Lady”. Realizing that Lady had sustained injuries (from the agony) and needed medical attention, he brought Lady home, however, Lady was not welcomed and his parents asked him to take Lady back to where he had found her. But Ray couldn’t follow his parents’ request, so he decided to hide Lady in the garage and provide her with the medical care she needed. Ray fed her and took care of her wounds, and immediately there was a bond between them. Ray kept Lady in the garage for the first week while she was recovering. Eventually when Ray’s parents found out that Lady was staying in the garage they arranged for someone to drive Lady and drop her off at a remote site approximately 5 miles away. Ray was devastated, in such a short period of time; Ray had formed a profound bond with Lady and the bond was undoubtedly mutual. Later that day, somehow Lady managed to find her way back home. Ray’s parents were so shocked that Lady was to find her way back that they allowed him to keep Lady. Not knowing at the time and just a few weeks after rescuing her, Lady had 9 puppies. After birth Lady was spayed and Ray’s job was to find good homes for these puppies. Lady died 8 years later, on Friday October 21, 1988, of old age and Ray knew then he had made a difference in her life and the life of those puppies. His passion for animals was born and continues until this day.