Meet the staff

Marelya Walker

Marelya Walker

What happens when you mix Rainman-like organization skills with natural caretaking ability and a knack for attracting animals that rivals Dr. Doolittle? Well, at Peace Love & Dogs, we call her Marelya. Marelya’s journey began in Harlingen, Texas (the true H-town, as she’d call it), where she was born and raised. From there, she took a pit-stop at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she earned her Bachelor of Liberal Studies. Marelya’s story could have easily ended back home in H-town (read previous parenthetical) as a youth organizer for her old high school, had she not been driven by a greater desire: animal care. Yep, she followed her nose all the way to Houston, where she dabbled in the animal welfare and animal healthcare fields before finding her forever home at PLD.

When she’s not at the front lobby greeting our two-legged and four-legged patrons, while making sure office operations remain well-behaved, you can find her spending free-time reading, catching up on the latest cheesy primetime drama, yelling at any team that plays against the Rockets or working on her MBA Degree. Marelya also spends a majority of her time raising her three kids; namely, Kimbo, the clumsy Cocker Spaniel mix that she swears thinks he’s British, Atticus, the agile and athletic Rat Terrier mix whose curiosity often gets him in trouble, and Jon Snow, the Kitten of the Knight’s Watch (who thinks he’s a dog). Marelya always jokes that if PLD ever opens up a second location, that she, Atticus, and Kimbo will gladly run it. Stay tuned.



25853099352_3db14dc60a_o

Katie Clark

Katie Clark has always had a passion for animals, especially dogs! She was drawn to the world of animal training at a young age, fascinated by how easily we can communicate with animals through relationships built on mutual trust and respect. In 2012, her dog training skills were put to the ultimate test as she rescued her long time best friend and co-worker, Whizz. Together they have taught classes, flown across the county, kayaked, learned to share, played with dolphins, painted, mastered the human/dog selfie, and won several trick dog titles.
In addition to being a professional dog trainer since 2011, Katie has brought an interesting animal training perspective to Peace Love & Dogs. As she pursued her BS in Marine Biology from Texas A&M University, she was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with California sea lions, harbor seals, Pacific walruses, and bottlenose dolphins. As a dog trainer, Katie has become a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, an American Kennel Club recognized Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a certified Canine Conditioning Coach, and is working toward becoming a CCPDT-certified canine behavioral consultant. Katie attributes her success as a trainer to all the animals, both in and out of water, that have taught her so much.

Staff_Haley_300x300-min

Hayley Kenner

Originally born in Houston, Hayley spent the years of her early childhood growing up in a family of four, in Flower Mound, TX and then her later youth and adolescent years in Magnolia, TX. Though it has changed and grown tremendously throughout the years, Hayley still considers Magnolia her small hometown. From a young age, she always had a fascination and passionate love for dogs. Hayley found herself amazed with their ability to learn new tasks with such ease by using the clicker and reward techniques. Once she graduated high school in 2011, she began seeking out opportunities to make dog training her full time profession. Since then, she has gained experience working hands-on alongside other trainers and earned her CPDT-KA certification in March of 2014. She is planning to obtain the CPDT-KSA and KPA certifications within the next year. It is her goal to work towards receiving different training certifications as well as pushing herself to becoming a better, well-versed and more knowledgeable trainer. She lives with three fur kids of her own, Othello the Great Dane, Medusa the Shepherd mix, and Lincoln the Labrador Retriever. She is overjoyed to be a part of the PLD team and is looking forward to all there is to learn here.


Charles Hughes

Charles Hughes

Charles was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He can remember as a little kid always trying to bring home some new pet he found, much to his parent’s dismay. His parents were animal lovers too, so it was hard to say no. He has owned everything from dogs to chameleons. The current leading lady in his life is his seven year old chocolate lab named Mary Jane, who he has had since she was just a puppy. Charles and Mary like to take long walks on the beach, recite poetry to each other, and eat toasted marshmallows while snuggling together by a warm fire. He loves her to death and knows the feeling is mutual. He also owns a cat and a fish tank full of tropical fish.

Charles has volunteered for H.O.P.E and worked at several different vet clinics, pet shops, and pet resorts. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in advertising from S.F.A. After college he moved back to Houston to be close to family and friends. When he is not playing with animals, his other hobbies include nature/wildlife photography, playing sports with friends, barbecuing, biking, hiking, and just being outdoors in general. He loves animals and couldn’t imagine life without them! He loves having the chance to come to work and play and train with dogs. Being our only male employee, Charles is very popular on the daycare floor, especially with our lady doggies. He’s looking forward to all of the exciting new opportunities at PLD.



Staff_Yennifer_300x300_AC2A3994_test

Yennifer Mejia

Yennifer is the sweet, silly, and energetic daycare counselor who spends most of the day encouraging her daycare group to enjoy pool time by swimming and treat diving! She has always had a passion for animals, so for seemingly forever her plan was to become a veterinarian one day. After joining the PLD staff, she quickly realized what a pleasure it is to get to hang out with her furry friends every day and call it “work”! PLD has helped her find her true calling, which is in animal behavior and now she aspires to pursue a career in dog training. Yennifer loves learning as much as she can about training and hopes to remain a part of the PLD family for a really long time. On her off days, she loves cuddling up with her 5-year-old Poodle named Bella and spending a lot of time with her entire family (two-legged and four-legged alike). One of her most favorite recreational activities is mountain biking, and she aspires to bike every trail in Texas with her nephew Russo, the craziest Cattle Dog that ever existed!


Gracey Soriano

Gracey Soriano

While Gracey was able to recognize her love of animals early on in life, she was never really quite sure how to turn that passion into a career. She briefly considered working towards becoming a zookeeper, but could never stop thinking about how much she’d rather spend her days hanging out with her two lovable Pitties, Kilo and Plex. She joined the PLD staff as a little bit of a novice when it came to dog behavior and training, but dedicated and eager to learn, she rapidly excelled as a fantastic daycare counselor! She is well known for cuddling with every single dog, whether teeny tiny or gigantic and slobbery. We are lucky to have such a fun-loving person as part of our team, and we know that our daycare doggies feel just as fortunate that they get to play with her all day!


Tori Hankey

Tori Hankey

Tori has been training dogs for 11 years. She has successfully trained a wide variety of breeds of all ages using positive training methods. Through group classes and private consultations, Tori has experience with obedience, Canine Good Citizen, therapy dogs and agility training. She also has several years of experience working hands on with dogs in boarding facilities and animal shelters all over Texas. Tori has a special talent connecting with the dogs. She recently earned certification through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). We are so glad she has brought all her experience and knowledge to PLD as our Daycare Supervisor. On a personal note, Tori has a 10 year old Border Collie, Oakley and a 6 year old Pit Bull, Sookie that she has trained from puppyhood. Their favorite activities are attending doggie daycare, going to the dog park, playing with tennis balls and frisbees, practicing their obedience training and playing tug of war.


Kate Van Rensburg

Kate Van Rensburg

Kate van Rensburg hails from Houston, TX and has had a deep love of animals her whole life.  From a very young age, she was the one who trained all the family pets in everything from basic obedience and potty training to swimming pool safety!  Kate spent years riding American Saddlebreds competitively and later working in the horse business as everything from a groom to an assistant trainer and riding instructor.  She has two World Grand Championships under her belt, and while she misses the horse business every day, her love of dogs keeps her happy working at PLD!  Kate has a BA in History from the University of St. Thomas and a JD from the University of Houston Law Center.  After passing the Texas Bar in 2014, Kate soon realized that while she found law intellectually stimulating, it wasn’t fulfilling for her.  When she started bringing her pup to PLD for puppy classes, she realized that she had found a career she was excited about and where she knew she could help people and their pups lead better lives together.  Kate started volunteering at PLD in August 2015, assisting with classes, Puppy Preschool, and anything else she could get her hands on.  Kate was hired on as a full-time employee at the beginning of 2016, and is currently teaching several Puppy I and Courteous Canine classes and working with puppies in Puppy Preschool, Middle School, and our Puppy Headstart Program.  She obtained her CPDT-KA certification in May 2016, and hopes to continue her education next by taking the CPDT-KSA as soon as she is able.  Kate has also taken over our retail program, making her, as she likes to say, PLD’s resident “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.”  Kate lives with her husband, Henry, who tries daily to undo all the hard work and training she’s put into their two dogs, Toots the American Pit Bull Terrier and Badger the English Bulldog.  They are all graciously allowed to live in the same house by their cat, Poes, who really wears the pants in the family.