Meet the Team


Sue Meech: Director

Sue was born in England and immigrated to Canada in 1964, after training as a Registered Nurse and doing some globe-trotting. She started wildlife rehabilitating by accident one day about 15 years ago, when the local humane society asked her to take in some orphaned raccoons. She and her husband started cage-building, and as fast as they built, the animals came. Build it and they will come! Sue herself is a full time volunteer. As she would say, “No one could afford to pay me for the hours I put in here. But it is my passion, and I enjoy every minute I spend caring for wildlife.”


Leah Birmingham, RVT: Assistant Director and Licensed Wildlife Custodian, Internship Program CoordinatorLeah

Leah is a Registered Veterinary Technologist (St. Lawrence College 2002 Alumini). She worked at a domestic and exotic animal practice for three years in Kingston after graduation. In 2005, she became SPWC’s first full-time employee. At that point her dedication to SPWC’s work became a huge part of her life. In March of 2005 she was awarded OWREN’s first Scholarship for Most Promising Contribution to Wildlife Rehabilitation in Ontario. As a Registered Vet Tech Leah manages the patient care in our new wildlife hospital.  She loves spending time ensuring the patients have environmental enrichment materials in their enclosures, and monitoring patient medical improvements. She also spends a lot of her time teaching our interns and volunteers about wildlife care.

She is also a part time professor at St. Lawrence College teaching wildlife care and exotic pet medicine to the Vet Assistant and Vet Tech  students. It is her lifetime goal  to improve the care wildlife receive when they are in need of help, as well as while they are in the care of veterinary practices.  She writes a column in the local bimonthly paper The Scoop about her experiences working with wildlife.


Julia: Veterinarian Assistant, Pre-Release Cage SupervisorJulia

Julia has grown up surrounded by a variety of animals. When not working at SPWC, most of her time is spent on the farm helping her parents with their commercial sheep flock and dairy goat herd. When she inquired several years ago on how to become involved in wildlife rehabilitation, Sue explained that the first step to working at the Centre was to complete the Vet Assistant or Vet Tech program. Julia’s interest was further peaked by a presentation in her Exotic Animal Husbandry class, taught by Leah, describing the Centre and the amazing work accomplished by staff and dedicated volunteers. Her passion, desire, and hard work allowed her a placement spot in the Spring of 2007, and upon completion, became a member of the SPWC team.  Julia works in all areas of the Centre, however her main focus is the pre-release cages which house animals soon to be released back to the wild.


Tess Miller  Human Relations Coordinator

Tess completed an internship at SPWC in the summer of 2013, after that she came back to volunteer several times. She was hired back as a Summer Student while she completed her BSc in Biology from Trent University. In 2015 she graduated from Trent and moved to the east coast where she worked in an agricultural lab and did bird monitoring field surveys in northern New Brunswick. She then went to BC and completed an internship working the Endangered Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program. In February 2017 we hired her back and established a critical role as Human Relations Coordinator. She also continues to work in the daily care of wildlife, and mentors new interns and volunteers. She helps with grant proposals as well.  We were always impressed by Tess’ dedication and appreciation of how fortunate we are to work hands on with wildlife.





Janelle: Admin/BookkeeperJanelle

Janelle has always had a passion of working towards improving the lives of animals. Locally she worked in a veterinary clinic office for almost 15 years, plus was a volunteer board member for the Napanee OSPCA for over 20 years. She has a background in bookkeeping and assists Sue part time with administrative duties, answering the phone and arranging transportation for incoming patients. In addition she receives donations and issues tax receipts, pays bills and does the banking, Quickbook data entry and reconciliation. There is never a dull moment at Sandy Pines! On the side she continues to help animals in need one at a time, usually dogs, in a busy household along with her own pets and a patient husband.


Barb: Tax Receipts, Thank You Notesbarb

Barb is a retired Medical Laboratory Technologist, with 40 years in Microbiology. She has volunteered at the Centre doing data entry, donations, and paying bills. She enjoys seeing the critters and especially likes the releases. Her dog Cooper also enjoys their weekly trips.




Janet: Animal Help, Fundraising

Janet has been a volunteer at Sandy Pines since July 2006, starting the week after she retired from her previouJanets life teaching Science at Ernestown and Napanee Secondary Schools. Janet has always had a special love for biology and a life-long interest in living things, so to be able to work in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation has been wonderful. Among other things, she has learned how to feed tiny but feisty bats, safely handle hawks and owls, outsmart adolescent raccoons that refuse to use the designated litter trays, bottle-feed a half-dozen hungry young squirrels at the same time, and clean skunk pens without annoying the residents! In addition to hands-on work with the animals, Janet does various handy jobs around the centre, and helps out with fundraisers. When she is not working at Sandy Pines, she loves taking photographs and watercolour painting (subjects in nature, of course!), traveling, and life in the country.


Brigitte: Animal Help, Transportation

Brigitte has been volunteering at the Centre for over 10 years. She does hands-on care and also is a volunteer driver and rescuer. “I have a very big heart for animals and feel fulfilled caring for them”.

Board of Directors: Sue Meech, Janet Drew, Dawn Mihailovic & Marg Isbester, Ian Smith, Doug Allan