Dogwood Farm Sanctuary is managed by Elizabeth and Ben Niven. Our staff does not receive a salary. We do this because we want to help the animals and we are grateful that others help us provide for the many animals in our care. By receiving donations, we are able to help more animals and provide the facilities needed to do that.
We have a small volunteer staff who handle daily care, feeding and cleaning of the entire sanctuary population – that’s more than 75-80 animals. In addition, we frequently employ one student worker who is paid to assist with cleaning and weekly chores for four hours a week. This is an internship position and we limit each worker to less than 100 hours per year.
Volunteer Director Elizabeth Niven: My first dog was adopted from a shelter in 1973 and serves as the inspiration for my rescue work. Polly was my best friend and companion growing up. While I have had a career in marketing and development, including four years as the director of public relations and development at an animal shelter, I spend my own time mostly in the company of formerly unwanted animals. What I know is what I don’t know. Each day, I get a lesson on tolerance, love and overcoming fear from the animals. I have been a trainer, behaviorist, equestrian, writer and designer on behalf of the animals but serving as the door opener and the lady with the food seems most relevant to them. I also have a degree in English literature, which doesn’t matter at all to them.
Volunteer Sanctuary Manager Ben Niven: Ben spent most of his childhood growing up at Litzsinger Kennel outside of New Melle on about 100 acres of dog kennels and lakes. His grandfather, Pete Litzsinger, trained sporting and retrieving dogs and boarded dogs. Ben didn’t want to train or breed dogs, but he enjoys caring for dogs at our boarding and rescue facility. Despite growing up with retrievers, he is most attracted to the underdogs: the big dogs of mixed ancestry, the bully breeds and the behavior wrecks. In addition to running our boarding facility, he is a musician with a journalism degree from Mizzou and an audio engineering degree from Webster University.