Our Team

Our Team

Meet the ARWS wildlife rehabilitation team! Click photos to learn more about each rehabber’s journey and passion for wildlife.

Founder & Director

Kelly Simonetti

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Carol D.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Ronnie L.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Sara B.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Helen S.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Judie L.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Lisa A.

Vet Student/Intern

Michelle D.

Intern

Siobhan O.

ARWS Board Member

Susan K.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Susan L.

Founder & Director

Kelly Simonetti

Kelly has enjoyed a long career in care giving. A graduate of nursing school, She worked as an RN for 20 years while also volunteering with St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter in Madison, NJ, where she cared for many sick animals. She has held an animal control license since 1998 and has volunteered with local animal rescue groups.

During Hurricane Katrina, Kelly helped organize and mobilize the Morris County Animal Rescue Team. She was one of the primary organizers in the animal rescue efforts provided by St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare and Sussex County Animal Rescue Team to transport and house the left-behind animals from the Katrina Disaster.

In 2000, Kelly completed her training in wildlife rehabilitation and was granted a license from the State of New Jersey to practice. Since then, the Sanctuary has grown in leaps and bounds under her auspicious and dedicated leadership.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Carol D.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

Many years ago, an injured and orphaned raccoon arrived on my porch using only her nose and one hind leg to make the journey. I brought her to ARWS and she eventually recovered. Upon early retirement, I stopped by the sanctuary during the height of the squirrel baby season and asked if I could help. The next thing I knew, I was feeding infant squirrels – and A LOT of them! So here I am today…a licensed wildlife rehabilitator helping animals towards a second chance at life in the wild.

My Favorite Wildlife is…

The shy and gentle Virginia opossum! Opossums are different from all other mammals in many ways. They are the only marsupial native to North America. A relatively unchanged evolutionary marvel from the dinosaur age, they possess an intelligence superior to many placental species, have opposable thumbs, a prehensile tail, and carry their young in a pouch. They are so different and misunderstood by the public.

Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

I find interacting with wildlife rescuers who go miles and hours out of their way get our help for a needy animal is a special encounter. The concern and generosity in donating to support the rehabilitation process of the animal they rescued are unprecedented and greatly appreciated.  My belief that there are many good caring people who are as diverse in their backgrounds and livelihoods as there are wild creatures in the world is always reaffirmed. A good feeling.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Ronnie L.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

Back in 2012, my youngest child was in middle school, so I was looking for something to keep me busy 1-2 days per week. I wanted to do something engaging while helping others. I love animals and have always been the person my friends call about the wildlife they encounter. So, when I saw a flyer hanging in my local diner for the ARWS new volunteer orientation I knew I had to call right away.

My Favorite Wildlife is…

When squirrels arrive first, they are my favorite. Later when fawns arrive, they are my favorite. Every animal we take in makes me smile. If I had to pick just one I couldn’t, just like I couldn’t pick a favorite child. I love them all!

 Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

Seeing an animal gets released. That makes all the hard work, countless feedings, and endless cleanings all worth it. Also, the people who volunteer and the relationships that have formed. Something about helping wildlife helps people as well.

Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Sara B.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

I had been helping wildlife since I was a small child, rescuing bunnies and chipmunks. I came to ARWS because I wanted to continue helping injured and displaced wildlife. To learn and provide care for a wide variety of wildlife has been a lifelong interest and ARWS has provided me the opportunity for which I am grateful.

 My Favorite Wildlife is…
All wildlife has something endearing to me. Those little raccoon faces and chubby bellies, the antics the baby skunks perform trying to be tough, the little opossum acting all ferocious, fawn with their complete trusting look and sounds they make. You just can’t choose only one.

 Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

Working in wildlife rehabilitation has allowed me to expand my education by attending conferences where we interact with other rehabbers around the country. We get information that we can apply to the wildlife in our care and are given to chance to help infants to young adult and release them so they can live the life they should. That is greatly rewarding. Also, meeting and becoming fast friends with wonderful people that I most likely never would have met if I wasn’t a crazy animal person.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Helen S.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

I came home from work one day to the sound of a crying bear cub. Upon further investigation, I found the cub clinging to logs upon the shore of our lake. I enlisted the help of a neighbor with a pontoon boat and jumped into the water to safely rescue it. The 4-pound cub was brought to ARWS for assessment and was eventually reunited with its mom and siblings. My first impression of ARWS upon arriving, was that I felt like I had driven to a magical place, and I knew that I would have to become a volunteer.

My Favorite Wildlife is…

I love working with all species, but the fawns are my favorite. Having vivid memories of my first drive in movie Bambi has left me enchanted with fawns.

Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

Working in wildlife rehabilitation is like riding a roller coaster. There are many ups and downs in caring for the animals. Seeing an animal that you and others have spent many hours rehabilitating finally being released is definitely my favorite part of wildlife rehabilitation.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Judie L.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

One winter, I noticed an injured squirrel and its pal sunbathing on my composter. I tried catching him to bring to the vet, but his companion kept trying to protect him. I was finally able to get him to the vet, but sadly he didn’t survive due to extensive internal injuries. But the battle fought by his little friend inspired me to become a wildlife rehabilitator so I could help wildlife in crisis. Since then, word is out – every squirrel with an injury shows up on my doorstep…

My Favorite Wildlife is…
Squirrels are Nature’s comedians! They are genius creative problem solvers with enormous personalities for such little creatures. There’s a reason why squirrels are the second most observed animal in the world after birds.

Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

Wildlife emergencies never occur at a convenient time. So, for someone to take the time to contact ARWS and caringly transport an animal in crisis speaks volumes of their compassion. When people arrive at ARWS, the joy and relief radiating from them that the animal they rescued will be cared for by us never get old for me.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Lisa A.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

I have a passion for animals, the preservation of their natural habitat, and the environment.

My Favorite Wildlife is…

Raccoons! They are loud, demanding, have no manners, and can turn a freshly cleaned, well-ordered enclosure into a frat house in under a minute. And you can’t get upset about it because they’re adorable. They dive head-first into a bowl of formula with no shame. They’re inquisitive, grabby, and 100% interactive. Despite their lack of decorum or perhaps because of it, they never fail to make me smile.

 Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

Fighting the good fight. Providing hope and healing to orphaned and injured wildlife who would otherwise have none, and returning them to their rightful place in the wild.

Vet Student/Intern

Michelle D.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

I was working for a veterinarian when a fawn with serious health issues was brought in. I fostered the fawn during her treatment and recovery period. When she was finally ready to be released, I searched for a place where she could be integrated back into the wild. I discovered ARWS and met Kelly who was so knowledgeable and inspiring. When she offered me an internship for the summer, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been working here ever since and love every second of it!

 My Favorite Wildlife is…

Fawns! We work closely with them daily, so it’s fun getting to know their individual personalities. Most of them come in compromised and present health challenges. But working with them as they recover and grow throughout the season is very rewarding.

 Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

Working in wildlife rehabilitation is an amazing experience because it allows me to learn and practice medicine with a kinesthetic approach. I’m able to focus on a treatment plan, and then watch the animal recover and be released. Being a part of the entire process gives me a deeper appreciation for medicine and the work we do here.

Intern

Siobhan O.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

I was interested in doing an internship that included animal experience. My mother mentioned ARWS, and I knew a few people who had previously been volunteers there. I did some research and applied for the internship. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made!

My Favorite Wildlife is…
All of the animals! I’d say that my favoritism leans towards the fawns since I spend a good amount of time with them. By the end of the summer, I know each one of them by their specific number identification. I’m also a huge fan of the foxes and skunks, too!

Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

My favorite part about working in wildlife rehabilitation are the intakes we receive that need medical attention. Whenever an animal comes to us that is in need of medical assistance, I know I’m going to be learning important medicine and techniques from Kelly.

ARWS Board Member

Susan K.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

What originally brought me to ARWS was when Kelly rescued a goat from us, that we rescued from a slaughter truck. Our property was too wet for her hooves, so Kelly offered to take her.

 My Favorite Wildlife is…
Raccoons! Whether they are babies, teenagers, or adults they are so stinking cute!

Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:
Aside from knowing we are helping to rescue, rehabilitate, and return animals to the wild, I love the people. Kelly is so committed to not just the animals, but to the volunteers, and has succeeded in fostering the feeling of family. We have gotten to know each other both inside and outside of the sanctuary, and it’s been so darn enjoyable! Truly, an integral part of my life.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice

Susan L.

How I Became an ARWS Wildlife Rehabilitator:

I’ve always had an interest in wildlife rehabilitation and learning about each species. I had previously worked with another rehabilitation facility but had since moved to Sussex County. When time allowed, I went to an ARWS volunteer orientation and have volunteered there ever since.

My Favorite Wildlife is…
All of them! They are all special creatures. My favorite animal changes from year to year…baby skunks are especially adorable this year!

Why I Love Wildlife Rehabilitation at ARWS:

My favorite part about working in wildlife rehabilitation is the success stories! So many of the animals would have suffered and died without our help.