Senior Manager, Disaster Services Program
As Senior Manager of the Disaster Services program for The HSUS's Animal Rescue Team, Wanda Merling focuses on developing relationships with external partners and agencies to drive the growth of HSUS's Disaster Servicies program and strengthen The HSUS's role in the emergency-response community.
With her strong background in coalition building and crisis management, Merling facilitates new and innovative methods of rescue and recovery for people and their pets during natural disasters.
On a day-to-day basis, she ensures The HSUS's organization, preparedness, and response plans with inter-agency stakeholders; establishes MOUs and other agreements with local, state, and federal officials; and coordinates trainings and table-top exercises. She also provides support materials to those working toward passing legislation supporting disaster management for animals.
Originally from South Carolina, Merling was first introduced to disaster response on a local level, working with law enforcement authorities and agencies from the state, primarily as a volunteer, on small dogfighting cases. In 2006, Merling moved to Phoenix, where she began working for PetSmart as a real estate research analyst. Following her passion, she transitioned into the role of emergency relief manager for PetSmart Charities in 2010.
During her tenure with PetSmart Charities, Wanda reinvented the organization's role in disaster response. Of note, she assisted with the implementation of a supply distribution center model for pet-care products after a displacement event. During Hurricane Sandy, she spearheaded a pilot program with other national partners to get pet food to affected families almost immediately through mass care centers for resident services.
In addition to managing PSC's Emergency Relief Waggin' program, Merling also supervised the acquisition and training of volunteers for deployment. Throughout her tenure with PSC, she established key partnerships with FEMA, the USDA, and the American Red Cross. She was also PSC's primary grant maker for all disaster relief funding.
Merling currently resides in South Carolina with her husband, son, and three rescued dogs.
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