Board of Directors
Lynny Benzinger, Co-Founder and President
“As co-founder of ARWNY, I have always had a soft spot for the seniors that would come into rescue. I knew their chances of getting adopted where slim to none, and when you looked into their eyes you could see them asking what is going on? Their old back legs that once supported them would be shaking and they just didn’t understand what was going to happen to them next. My heart would be aching knowing that either me or someone in our group would have to hold them in our arms while they crossed the rainbow bridge. I can’t express the need for this program enough, that we will be able to help these beautiful seniors stay in their homes, with their family that they have loved over the years. I also feel honored to sit on this board with these knowledgeable and wonderful Akita people.”
Lynny, with her family, is the owner of Big Benz Akitas — a renowned Akita show kennel. She has a degree in animal behavior and has worked with dogs since the ’70s. Lynny has done rescue since the 1980s and helped to co-found Akita Rescue of Western NY, Inc. — the parent of the Akita S.O.S. (Save Our Seniors) national surrender prevention program. She is co-chair of the ACA Rescue Committee. She works in the medical field in South Buffalo, NY and now enjoys the love of two grandchildren — Evan and Hannah!
Kathy DeWees, Vice President
“What happens to an aging senior Akita, when the best to come is a shelter, a strange cold place with no one they know or love to help them thru each day — when the only option may be euthanasia for no other reason than being old? That scenario has haunted me from the start of my rescue work back in 1986. Seeing an aging senior Akita lose its home and knowing few if any homes are standing by waiting to adopt an old Akita, breaks my heart; so when Nancy first brought up this idea of helping keep senior Akitas in their home, I jumped at the chance. Over the years I have been “owned” by Buddy, Kuma, Brae, Duke, Tazi, Pook, Maui, BaeBae, Zeus, and Sheena — and I grew old step by step with each of them and cannot imagine the horror of having to give them to shelter or a rescue, due to the economy or my lack of ability to keep them in my home.
Over the past few years I had gotten ill so I knew my days of doing hands-on work was limited and I knew we had capable volunteers who could continue our work of rehoming the younger Akitas. So S.O.S. was an idea whose time had come — at the perfect time for me. With the advent of the Internet and social networking, we could reach out across the country and enlist help from vets, breeders, adopters, owners and start to help people in need whose senior Akitas needed more help than they could give them. The economy has forced many people to give up an aging Akita they love due to the high cost of medicine, special food, vet cost, illness, etc. If we at Akita-S.O.S. (ARWNY) can help that aging Akita stay in the home, it’s a win-win for everyone — less Akitas flooding the shelters, less Akitas in rescue taking up valuable resources and space, less heartbreak for the senior Akitas and in the end, making me feel that I am still doing something to help my wonderful breed.”
Kathy is on the Akita Club of America’s (ACA) Board of Directors and is the ACA Update editor. Kathy’s past includes co-founding Delaware Valley Akita Rescue with Margie Rutbell in 1988 after 2 yrs working with ARSA; operating two boarding kennels where the Akitas were all fostered; helping the Akita Club of America in various positions; co-founder of the All-Breed Rescue Alliance, Inc. an umbrella organization for various breed rescues; and raising three wonderful kids — Jenn, Jaimie, and Elisa while enjoying four grandkids, Kyle, Mackenzie, Nicholas, and Mariana. Today she looks forward to helping S.O.S. become a nationally known program and is proud to be working with the wonderful members of Akita-S.O.S.-ARWNY!
Jennifer Ceschan, Secretary
“When you grow up helping your Mom do rescue and living in kennels, you get a keen appreciation for what you like and don’t like. I learned very quickly that senior dogs were the best — most loving, easiest to handle, happiest for attention, and least amount of work. Yet over and over in our rescue work, I saw so many seniors dumped and never understood why — what did they do that was so wrong, grow old? That’s life!! “No longer a puppy” is no reason to get rid of your Akita!! No longer crazy, wild, energetic to the nth degree, no longer peeing on floors or chewing on tables — but instead, calm, collected, dignified, loving, intelligent, and easy to care for — so why give them up now? It always bothered me and I made sure to give extra attention to the seniors in our care at ARWNY & boarding with us in our kennels.
When ARWNY wanted to go to the S.O.S. program, I was all in favor of it. Seniors deserve so much more than the short stick they often get from their humans. My mom is a senior and I can’t imagine dumping her in a nursing home for anyone else to take care of!! So if we can help senior Akitas stay where they belong, in the homes they grew up in, then I’m all for it.”
Jennifer works at TEVA in PA where she resides with her husband Charlie, son Nicholas, and newest baby Mariana. Jenn has her degree from University of New Haven in business management/sports; and had worked for Verizon Information Technology for many years before switching careers to the medical field. She is a beloved aunt to Kyle and Mackenzie, the children of her siblings Elisa and Jaimie. Jenn has been helping rescue since she was a child, and was co-operator of both kennels her family handled. She has spent many hours on transports, helping with the ARWNY picnics, Nationals booth, and doing paperwork for ARWNY as secretary. While Jenn may have been dragged kicking & screaming into rescue work by her mother, she is a valued member today of ARWNY and now Akita-S.O.S.!
Nancy Lamm, Co-Founder and Treasurer
“The seniors have always held a special spot in my heart and when my dad went into hospice, I knew this was the time to do something for those seniors who have waited and needed us for so long. I owed it to them and I promised my father who inspired my spirit of volunteerism and of love for animals, that I would see this through and provide the help NATIONALLY that our beloved senior Akitas need. Knowing how Hospice helped humans, I wanted to provide a hospice of sorts to senior Akitas — helping them through assistance to remain in the home they knew with those they loved. The time was right — senior rescue heroes were wanting to help, and someone had to stand up to the plate and take the plunge and do the walk not just talk the talk. I am so proud of ARWNY and the executive advisory board who said “LET’S DO IT — Let It Roll” and so Akita-S.O.S. is born.”
Nancy helped to co-found Akita Rescue of WNY, Inc. — the parent of the Akita-S.O.S. (Save Our Seniors) national senior surrender prevention program. She has done dog rescue since 1978 (or as her parents said really since childhood). She proudly shares her life with her beloved husband Rich, her Akita Artemis, and her two cats Hermes and Aria.
Nancy is president of N. Lamm Consulting Associates, Inc. and does editing work for college textbooks for several prominent publishing companies, nationally and internationally. She also is a small business owner and has served on numerous boards. She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University and a dual B.S. in Psychology and in Sociology from the State University of NY College at Brockport. She has helped to start an SPCA, was past officer and on several committees for the Akita Club of America. She currently is co-chair of the ACA Rescue Committee. Nancy also works diligently with obedience and training.