Our Athlete Ambassadors are a rapidly growing team of professional athletes across a range of sports whose compassion has inspired them to use their public platform to help homeless pets. If you are interested in becoming an Athlete Ambassador, please contact us for more information.
Barret Jackman is a solid defensive player and alternate captain for the St Louis Blues. A first round selection (17th overall) by the Blues in 1999, Jackman has enjoyed great success in his twelve years with St Louis. The franchises only Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) winner in 2003 and franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, Barret epitomizes what it means to be a loyal warrior. Barret and his wife, Jenny are proud parents of Cayden and McKenna and their two rescued dogs, Tanner and Bailey complete their home. The Jackmans are heavily involved with Stray Rescue, a great no-kill shelter in St Louis. In their work with Stray Rescue, Jenny sits on the board of directors and spends time volunteering on rescues that save dogs from deplorable conditions. Barret is willing to speak out to help companion animals find forever homes and get the treatment they deserve. The Jackmans are mainstays at Stray Rescue events, helping them raise money and awareness with their presence. A great example for our other Athlete Ambassadors to follow, Barret says, “Mistreating or abusing an animal is crime that we need to eliminate. Through our work with Stray Rescue, we have seen how resilient these animals can be and with this organization we can provide them a brighter future.”
Brad Thompson is a former MLB pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals where he became a World Series Champion in 2006. After five seasons with the St Louis Cardinals organization, Thompson played a 6th MLB season with the Kansas City Royals. Now, he and his wife Andrea call St. Louis home where they spend time with their newborn son Dylan and their loveable pups Molly and Belle. Molly, a puppy mill rescue, and Belle, who was found in an abandoned building in the St. Louis area, are best buddies and great big sisters to their new brother Dylan. Brad and Andrea are excited to be a part of the A4A team to help advocate for homeless pets. “Our dogs are a big part of our family life. As new parents we hope to teach our son how to be a part of a compassionate and caring future generation.”
David Backes is a professional hockey player and captain of the St. Louis Blues. A second round selection (62nd overall), Backes has played over 500 games for the Blues in eight seasons of action. David appeared in the 2010 Winter Olympics with Team USA earning a Silver Medal. After being named to the NHL All-Star Game in 2011, Backes was named the 20th Captain in St Louis Blues history in the off-season. David and his wife Kelly are the founders of Athletes for Animals and first got their start volunteering to walk dogs with Blue Earth Nicollet County Humane Society (BENCHS) while they both attended college at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In 2007 their passion and vision began to grow for the future of animal welfare, when they settled in St. Louis and began to work closely with Five Acres Animal Shelter (Formerly St. Charles Humane Society). They have helped out several organizations in St. Louis and in their home state of Minnesota in a variety of ways; from volunteering and cleaning kennels, fostering dogs, serving as board members, appearing at fundraisers, speaking publically and educating the public about important matters related to animal welfare. When David received his pilots license in January 2011, he realized they could further their impact nationwide and have helped on several rescue flights, safely transporting adoptable animals. They are excited about the future of Athletes for Animals and the impact this organization will make for companion pets everywhere!
David Perron is a dynamic forward in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers. The first six years of his career he played for the St. Louis Blues where he was chosen to appear in the 2009 Rookie All-Star game and electrified the Blues offense. It was during his time in St. Louis he discovered his compassion for helping animals, by fostering and attending local fundraisers. He now shares his Canadian home with girlfriend Vanessa and their two dogs, Stella and Jack and calico cat named Alice. During the off season, he enjoys spending time at the lake on his boat. David says he is most excited about joining Athletes for Animals to better connect with the community, to establish new relationships with rescue groups and lend his voice to animals in need.
Erik Johnson is a solid defensemen in the NHL playing for the Colorado Avalanche. Johnson grew up in Minnesota where he excelled as a hockey player and joined the United States Development Program at age 17. He has represented USA hockey in two under 18 tournaments (2 goal medals), a world junior tournament (bronze), multiple world championships (bronze in 2013) and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver (Silver). Erik was the first overall pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft and after playing one year at the University of Minnesota he turned pro and joined the St Louis Blues. Erik Johnson has played over 300 NHL games and amassed more than 130 points. In the offseason Erik and his girlfriend Jackie love spending summers in Minnesota with their three dogs, Sebastian and Veda, Golden Retrievers and Gia, a Bernese Mountain Dog. Erik and Jackie say, “Our four dogs are like our kids, we take lots of pride in a holistic and natural approach with their care, to ensure a happy and healthy life for them. With Athletes for Animals we are excited to show others how pets can enrich their lives.”
Jake Long is the offensive team captain and plays a key role as left tackle for the St. Louis Rams. Jake grew up in Michigan where he was a well-rounded three-sport athlete in football, baseball and basketball. Long attended the University of Michigan where he earned All-American honors in both 2006 and 2007. In 2008 he was the first overall selection in the NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins and was named to the Pro-Bowl in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Jake signed with the St. Louis Rams as a free agent in 2013. Jake and his wife Jackie are college sweethearts and enjoy spending time together at home with their two Labradoodles, Charlie and Lulu. They take pleasure in helping out various charitable organizations and are excited to join the A4A team to help further awareness for companion pets. Jake says, “Our dogs bring Jackie and I so much joy and life into our home, we think everyone should experience that special bond. Our lives are definitely enriched because they are around.”
James Laurinaitis is the middle linebacker for the St. Louis Rams. James is a true warrior, starting in every game of his five year professional career. Hailing from Minnesota, where he also excelled at hockey, James played college football at Ohio State University where he was named an All-American and the nations best defensive player. James and his wife Shelly, also an OSU grad, were married in March of 2013 when their home grew to a total of six, James and his two Rottweiler’s, Titus and Grace, and Shelly and her two Morkie’s, Maya and Louie. James and Shelly find comfort and companionship daily with their four amazing pets. James says, “We wanted to get involved because we know how much our dogs give and receive love, so I want to spread the message that being a responsible pet owner is not an option, it is a necessity.” Their four dogs are also travel-savvy as they make the trek often to their second home in Columbus, Ohio during the offseason. When they’re not watching sports, enjoying time with friends and family, or looking for the next best restaurant in St. Louis, James and Shelly are home relaxing with their dogs. “Playing with our dogs is truly one of our favorite hobbies, joining A4A was a no-brainer for us!”
Jessica Schultz is a two time US Olympian in women’s curling (2006 in Torino, Italy and 2014 in Sochi, Russia), three time National Champion (2005, 2011, 2013), and World Silver Medalist (2005). Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Jessica grew up surrounded by the love of various pets. After moving to Minnesota in 2003 to pursue her passion for curling, she knew life wouldn’t be complete without a few furry friends hanging around. Shortly after she adopted Millie, a cat from the local humane society and Diesel, her dog joined the family shortly after. Jessica and her dog enjoy an active lifestyle, running along the river and through the neighborhoods of South Minneapolis. Her adopted companions get along like brother and sister. Jessica says, “I look forward to working with A4A to raise awareness of animal adoption in the MN area and to help give animals a voice.”
Kyle McClellan has been a pitcher in the Major Leagues for the last 6 years. A known family man, he and his wife Bridget are blessed with two children and a beautiful Golden Retriever. Kyle is a fierce competitor on the field, spending the first 5 years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, taking home a World Series Championship in 2011. McClellan and dog Cammie love playing fetch, time at the lake, going on hunts and just lounging around, he helps out animal organizations in the St. Louis Suburbs by appearing at fundraisers and donating auction items. Kyle says, “Athletes for Animals is a great idea reaching across all sports, so animals, like ours, are well cared for and have a bigger voice.”
Mark Buehrle is a starting pitcher in the MLB for the Toronto Blue Jays. Mark began his career with the Chicago White Sox in 2000, where he pitched a no hitter in 2007 and a perfect game in 2009. He was with the Sox for 11 and a half seasons, before he signed with the Florida Marlins in 2011. He and his wife Jamie were able to start adoption programs in both cities, known as Sox for the Strays and Buehrle’s Buddies. Jamie and Mark are no strangers to the animal welfare world and have become active spokes figures regarding Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) along with many other homeless pet initiatives. They have helped save the lives of hundreds of dogs across the country and are excited to continue their work by using their platform with Athletes for Animals. Together, they are proud parents of two young children, Braden and Brooklyn and share their home with their 4 dogs, Diesel, Drake, Duke, Slater. Slater is their rescued American Staffordshire Terrier and also an aspiring therapy dog. Mark believes that Athletes for Animals will be a great platform for athletes and their families to come together and educate the public on the number of homeless pets in the country everyday and bring attention to BSL that discriminates against breeds of dogs solely on the way they look.