Melody Sanders, Co-Founder, CEO and President of the Board
Melody Sanders, or Mel as she is known at the Pantry, has an extensive background in making businesses run smoothly. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Millersville University. Mel has started two successful businesses prior to co-founding Pet Pantry of Lancaster County. She chose to close her first business to allow her to devote time during her mother’s terminal illness. In 2007, her love of animals led her to start My Best Friend’s Pawstry Shop, which provides beautiful, wholesome pet treats for our four legged friends. In addition to her strong background making businesses grow and thrive, Mel comes to the Pet Pantry with three years of experience in animal rescue. Having served as the in-home evaluator for an out of state Border Collie Rescue, she saw firsthand the importance of placing an animal in a home that is suitable for it’s personality and temperament.
Her love of animals began in childhood with various personal pets and some that lived with her during her college years. Her philosophy early in life was that “pets are family and are forever”. Mel believes that each animal that comes into the Pet Pantry is important and deserves a home that shares that same philosophy.
Co-founding the Pet Pantry in 2011 was a result of a lifelong dream to work in animal rescue to improve the lives of animals. The first step was meeting the need in the community by starting a food supplement program to help families that were facing the surrender of their cherished pets due to financial hardship. The food program expanded quickly into a quality animal rescue for cats and an ambitious program for spay/neuter surgeries for owned and stray animals. The newest program launched in 2018 has been the purchase and renovation of the SS Pantry mobile RV, which will operate a TNR program, designed to reduce the population of stray and feral cats throughout Lancaster County.
Mel and her husband Scott live in the Millersville area. In their free time, they enjoy spending time “up at the lake” boating and taking walks with their two border collies. Although Mel is the face that most customers see at the main office, her husband Scott is behind the scenes supporting everything that the Pet Pantry does. Scott can always be found assisting in food packaging and monthly food handouts, and recently has taken on the job of handling the hands on improvements and preparations to get the SS Pantry roadworthy and ready to launch.
In addition to managing 10 employees and almost 80 volunteers, keeping the Pet Pantry fiscally responsible is a responsibility that Mel is totally devoted to. Her strong business background makes her qualified to keep the Pantry financially strong for many years to come. Her heart is what makes the Pantry an incredible asset for animals, their families and other rescue organizations in need.
Brenda Fijalkowski, VMD, FFP, CFP
Dr. Brenda Fijalkowski is the Medical Director of the Pet Pantry. She oversees the medical aspects of the Rescue, the Fix Lancaster Program, and takes care of the medical needs of pets of families who are using the Food Assistance Program.
Dr. Brenda is a 1986 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. After 27 years in private practice, she moved in the direction of shelter medicine and High Quality, High Volume Spay/Neuter (HQHVSN). She completed the ASPCA's Humane Alliance training in HQHVSN in 2013. After serving for the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area for 4 years and volunteering for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association's Rural Area Veterinary Services on Indian Reservations in the Midwest, she joined the Pet Pantry as Rescue Director in 2018.
As a Certified Fear Free Professional and an America Association of Feline Practitioner's Cat-Friendly Practitioner, she has worked with staff and volunteers to help make the shelter stays of cats and dogs in the Rescue as stress-free as possible. By reducing stress, the Rescue animals have healthier stays with the Pantry and move on to their forever homes more quickly. Since starting the average length of stay for the Rescue animals has been cut in half.
Dr. Brenda is also certified in Animal CPR and Advanced Life Support through the American College of Veterinarian Emergency and Critical Care. She currently performs surgery for the Rescue and Fix Lancaster programs. She also assists in the Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) program. Patient welfare is her primary concern with animals presented for surgery.
Dr. Brenda lives with her husband in the Millersville area and shares her home with 2 dogs and 2 cats. In her spare time she enjoys long walks and is active in her church. She also trains in martial arts where she has achieved the rank of second degree black belt.
Margot Schwag, V.M.D.
I don’t remember when it was that I decided I wanted to be a Veterinarian. My childhood friends tell me I always knew that was my destiny.
I grew up in eastern suburbs of Philadelphia. My father, Sam, was an Attorney, and my mother, Miriam, was a classically trained artist. I am the youngest of 3 sisters and 1 brother. We were raised with a myriad of dogs and cats. I worked at a barn at the age of 13 and purchased my first horse.
Upon graduating from high school, I attended Penn State for 2 years then received my BS from Villanova University. While waiting for acceptance to Veterinary school, I worked toward a Master in Science. In 1983 I started at the Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. I graduated in 1987 in the top 10 of my class. At 30 years of age, I was finally out of school!
Dr. Roland Fuhrman, my husband, and I built Landisville Animal Hospital from the ground up. We opened our doors July 20, 1987. How wonderful to work in a field you love. Sadly the work place was changing and after 28 years in practice, it was time to change course.
While waiting for the okay to resume practice, I did a bunch of volunteer work teaching adult immigrants how to speak, read and write English. That brought many wonderful friends into my life. I have been, and am still, volunteering weekly at Furever Home, a cat rescue and adoption service in East Petersburg, PA. I also perform the surgeries, for the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program for The Pet Pantry. That adds up to 25-30 surgeries each Friday!
When not caring for animals, I love to travel, garden, reenact in the ‘French and Indian’ war period (1754-1763), and enjoy novels via audio-books.
I am owned by 3 Devon Rex cats. Their names are Inara, her son Joss, and daughter Meme.
Juan C. Ramore, Veterinary Technician
Bio Coming Soon!
Nacomi Bissonette, Veterinary Technician / Rescue Manager
Nacomi Bissonnette is one of the two Rescue Managers for the Pet Pantry. Nacomi was born in Maine and came to Pennsylvania when she was eight. She started at the Pet Pantry in February of 2014 working as a Veterinary Technician. After two years, she began overseeing the rescue portion of the Pet Pantry and worked both in surgery and managing the rescue. Now she primarily sticks to her tasks as Rescue Manager, but is still able to assist in surgery when help is needed.
Nacomi has had a love for animals since she was a child. She began her path in animal welfare in June of 2005 at the Humane League of Lancaster County. She started out working in the Cat Adoption Center and as time passed she began helping out with the dogs as well. After two years she moved over to the medical building and worked with Dr. Langlois as a Veterinary Technician until she left the Humane League and came to the Pet Pantry in 2014.
When not hard at work, Nacomi enjoys spending time with her three children, Heaven, Titan, Syden, and her significant other, Ryan. Her favorite activities include canning, camping, visiting the shooting range, and caring for her furry foster kids. She has one dog, Nikko, and two cats named Wynken and Nugget (Pictured).
Kristine Spangler, Media Manager
Kristine Spangler is one of the two Rescue Managers at the Pet Pantry. She graduated with her Associates in Business Studies at Harrisburg Area Community College in 2014. Kristine joined the Pet Pantry team in January of 2017 when Lost Paws of Lancaster and the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County merged together in order to better serve the Lancaster County area. She had been volunteering for Lost Paws since they formed in 2012 and played a large role in managing the adoption centers, foster homes, and care of cats ever since. She continues to assist in managing these aspects and more at the Pet Pantry now.
Kristine’s love of animals began when she was very young. She has always been a cat person, never being without one growing up. When her original dream of being a veterinarian switched to a dream of being able to pursue her passion of photography, she kept animals close to her by making herself available to photograph animals for adoption. Even now they are her favorite subject to point a camera at.
In her spare time, Kristine enjoys line dancing, disc golf, and hiking with her two dogs, Sam and Calcifer. She practices photography as a serious hobby and side profession, taking on projects and helping to fundraise for the Pet Pantry. She resides in Providence Township with her significant others, her dogs, and her cats.
Steve Pizzo, Adoption/Volunteer Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Shari Sellers, Administrative Assistant
Bio coming soon!
Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County is made up of various members of the local community. As its primary stewards, the Board of Directors ensures that the association's day-to-day activities connect with the long-term evolution of the Pet Pantry. The Board supports the staff's efforts to create distinctive and meaningful value for all stakeholders through its thoughtful oversight, ongoing strategic thinking and foresight, and consistent investment in innovation. The Board also strives to ensure that its work, as well as the work of other association contributors, embodies a shared commitment to collaboration, passion, and professionalism.
Melody Sanders- President/CEO
Michael Stern - Head Chair
Krystle Black- Treasurer
Ashley Etue, DVM - Officer
Carole Kirchner - Officer
Diane Dayton- Officer
Lauren R. Kell - Officer
Carissa Madei Noel - Officer
Our Community Ambassador
We really couldn't call ourselves animal lovers if we didn't have a furry community ambassador to help oversee our operations here at the Pet Pantry. Sasha plays an important role in helping us connect with folks when we are out and about at events.
Sasha /Community Ambassador
Sasha was surrendered to the Pet Pantry in 2017 all the way from Kentucky. She had been hit by a car and had a limp in her hind leg. The woman who found her was moving to Pennsylvania and knew that with the over population of dogs in the southern states that she would have a better chance of finding a forever home here. Sasha made the trip up and was surrendered to the Pet Pantry in hopes of having her hip repaired and finding a new home. Once here, it was discovered Sasha was pregnant and close to having her puppies. Since the surgery needed to repair her hip was not urgent, Sasha had her puppies and became well known with all the volunteers here at the Pantry as they watched them grow.
By the time Sasha raised her puppies and recovered from her surgery it was impossible to say goodbye to this sweet girl. She was adopted by Eric and Nancy Storck who are longtime volunteers and supporters of the Pet Pantry. They agreed to co-own Sasha with the Pantry so that she is able to come oversee the events we hold.