Two cute pet dogs, cane corso and Staffordshire bull terrier at home in living room



As an organization that evolves to meet the needs of people and pets, Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) is currently focused on ending dog breed restrictions, whether they exist in policies or laws. These restrictions, which on their surface appear to exclude dogs based on how they look, are ultimately about excluding the people who own the dogs, often based on owner race or class.

AFF provides law and policymakers with the science-backed information they need to create laws and policies that consider dogs and people as individuals and improve public safety. The organization works within the legal system to give dog owners skilled legal representation to end breed-specific legislation, keeping dogs and people together.

Additionally, AFF grants funds to organizations who share its ethics and goals, plus consults with and offers free resources to advocates, so that communities can move forward.

Our Mission

To create inclusive communities for people and their dogs.


We designed every position on our team to link intrinsically with our mission. Everyone here has hands-on experience with why we do what we do – whether that’s training dogs, transporting them, making grants, educating the public and animal welfare workers, or speaking to the world-at-large about animal and human welfare. We keep everyone focused and don’t waste anyone’s time

Male cynologist with service dog, training outside
Bernice Clifford Animal Farm Foundation 2

Bernice Clifford, CPDT-KA

Director of Behavior and Training

Bernice, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts. She shares her life with 4 dogs, 2 goats, multiple chickens and the unexpected cat. She came to the animal world, working with Dr. Amy Marder and the New England Veterinary Behavior Associates in 2001, after adopting a “pit bull’ dog named Dixie and experiencing unexpected discrimination.

Bernice creates the enrichment and behavior protocols for the dogs at AFF and in other shelters and rescues. She travels nationwide working with other shelters and speaking at conferences about enrichment, training, and behavior modification for shelter dogs.


Nikki Juchem

Foundation Manager

We were fortunate enough to snag Nikki in 2013 when she traded in city life for a country view. She has a background in business and client relations. Nikki’s work includes communications with the public, creating promotional and educational materials, and running AFF’s marketing initiatives. Nikki’s main focus is supporting shelter workers, rescuers, animal control officers and advocates in the work that they do to end discriminatory policies, both in their organizations and in their communities. She has had the pleasure of presenting AFF’s work at regional conferences and workshops. Thanks to her excellent work, many shelters have dropped breed labels and view all dogs as individuals. Got questions, need advice, or just want to tell us about your accomplishments? Shoot her an email.


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Melanie Appleton

Director of Finance

Melanie joined our team in June 2013. Following 8 years of crunching numbers in a public accounting firm, Melanie was happy to align her skills with numbers and skills with animal welfare. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from SUNY New Paltz and obtained her CPA license in 2011.

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Regina Lizik

Communications and Fundraising Manager

Regina holds a B.A. in Philosophy, World Religions, and Classical History and consequently enjoys telling people “well, actually …” She’s written for outlets like the Daily Beast covering the intersection of pop culture and religion. She fell in love with exploring the relationship between dogs and people while serving as the Viral Editrix for BARKPost.

At AFF, she handles all content, as well as social and fundraising campaigns.

Regina is legally blind and advocates for equality for people with disabilities on the FB page Buttons the Shiba. There, she discusses life with an unconventional guide dog, disability rights, and dismantles stereotypes about living everyday life with a disability.


ashley pastor animal farm foundation

Ashley Pastor CPDT-KA

Behavior and Training Manager

Ashley received her BS in Environmental Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She’s a canine volunteer at the DCSPCA and helps with fundraiser events within the community. She’s worked with large carnivorous mammals at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY.

At AFF, Ashley provides daily care and enrichment for the dogs, in addition to working on basic training and behavioral protocols. She shares her life with dogs named Henry and Roxie, and a cat named Hershey. Ashley enjoys photography and watching old movies.


christa ploschke aff

Christa Ploschke

Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper

Assistant to Awesomeness and Ninja Bookkeeper. That is what Christa brings to Animal Farm Foundation! Christa left behind her mundane career in an accounting firm in pursuit of finding purpose and making a difference. She found that when she began working at AFF. Christa is happy to assistant in the awesomeness that is AFF and brings her bookkeeping skills with her.

Christa shares her life with her rescue dog, Kato. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening and watching movies both old and new.


cassidy animal farm foundation 2

Cassidy Scalzo CPDT-KA

Adoption and Marketing Lead

Cassidy is a recent Marist College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She has always loved animals, so much so that she started working with the Two by Two Zoo as an educator/handler when she was only nine years old. Cassidy also worked part time at a doggie daycare, where she learned the basics of dog introductions, playgroups and body language.

Although 9-year-old Cassidy would be disappointed that present-day Cassidy isn’t a “jungle girl,” she’d probably think working at AFF is a close second!