take paws founder 

Monique bonnaffons

Monique Bonnaffons is the Founder/Executive Director of Take Paws Rescue located in New Orleans, Louisiana. A native New Orleanean, she completed her studies at Franklin College and a successful career as a Court Reporter.  She went on to pursue a passion and opened a boutique in Lakeview, during which time she experienced a situation which would change the course of her life and bring her to her calling.  In 2015, after rescuing Clarence from a life or death situation, Monique followed her heart and, with the endless support of her husband and five children, started Take Paws Rescue.  

Always having a love for animals and pulling for the underdog, there was no going back. With Monique’s constant nurturing of the rescue, it’s grown from 40 dogs a month to its current size of nearly 200 dogs monthly. She has surrounded herself with hundreds of amazing volunteers that continue to grow the rescue operation across the state of Louisiana and beyond.  Through this calling, Monique has proven to be a tireless advocate for animal rights and is determined that Take Paws will make a difference in the lives of countless rescues and fosters on their journey to their forever homes.  


Debbie Johnston

Co-Chair Board of Directors

Debbie Johnston is a New Orleans native who received her Bachelor of Interior Design from LSU. After graduating, Debbie moved away to pursue a career in the restaurant business. She returned to New Orleans after years of living in Chicago and NYC. Debbie believes that life is an adventure and her favorite saying is: It’s not the things you do in life that you will regret. It’s the things you don’t do. Family comes first and she also enjoys shopping, decorating her home, and a nice dinner with a great bottle of wine. She works as a Sales Manager for Synchrony Bank. 

Debbie grew up with cats and recently discovered the unconditional love of a dog when she adopted Tuga, a rescued Australian Shepherd/Sheltie/Collie mutt. Tuga follows Debbie around and stares at her in adoration. Debbie joined Take Paws Rescue in 2018..

Teresa Hatfield

Co-Chair Board of Directors

Teresa recently retired from the US Coast Guard after 26 years, and now spends her time writing, running her maritime consulting firm and working with Take Paws Rescue. With advanced degrees in environmental planning and management, as well as the Naval War College under her belt, she has brought that experience to bear on Take Paws Rescue's procedures and processes, updating and streamlining them as we continue to grow exponentially. She and her husband currently have four dogs, all rescues.

Danielle Cecchine

Board Member

Danielle Cecchine is a writer and stay at home dog mom. She received her BA in Political Science and Russian Studies from Miami University and her MA in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Danielle settled in New Orleans along with her husband and two children after a combined 16 years of living and working abroad in Europe and Asia and working as a speechwriter at the Pentagon in Washington DC. Settled in one place at last, in 2016, she welcomed her first dog, Pen, to keep her company while writing a novel at home. The Cecchine family soon became active in animal rescue, calling their home The Cecchine Hotel for Dogs, and now have one unfinished novel, four family dogs and anywhere from two to five foster dogs at any given time. Danielle’s permanent pack - Pen, Ollie, Bailey, and Henry - love their foster guests and help out every day with socialization and training. Danielle enjoys photographing and writing about her animal rescue experiences on her blog iffydog.com. Danielle joined Take Paws Rescue in 2017. 

Mary Ann Cardinale

Board Member

Mary Ann Cardinale has been a dog lover since childhood.

My mom was the original dog  rescuer, but in those days that meant we just took them all in to our  home. In and out of our lives went strays and unwanted dogs and cats through a revolving door of fur! After Hurricane Katrina, due to needed help with my pet German Shepherd, I discovered actual rescue groups full of people that cared deeply about pets and all animals. Not to mention the awe inspiring animal rescue volunteers that came to the city in droves out of pure selfless sacrifice. This started the drive in her to become a rescuer. Fostering, transporting, bathing, capturing, walking, running errands, working at events, planning, paperwork, social media and even an occasional late night kidnapping (oops I mean SAVING). 

Also a Board Member of NOLA CityBark, which has aided in outreach and 
connections with dog people of all walks of life, and every corner of 
the state. 

When not spending as much time as possible rescuing, I am a busy wife, 
mom, grandma, insurance agent, partner in a house remodeling business, 
and co-owner of Muddy Mutts, a do it yourself dog wash and grooming 
salon in Lakeview, New Orleans. I can be contacted at 

Laurie Johnston Bernard

Board Member

Laurie is a New Orleans native, a graduate of UNO, and LSU Dental Hygiene School. She is married with two beautiful daughters and two equally beautiful dogs - Phoebe, and a Take Paws Rescued boarder collie name Scout. Laurie does an outstanding job fundraising for Take Paws Rescue, and has also fostered at least 20 dogs since coming to work with us.

Jessica Clements

Board Memeber

Jessica Clements, New Orleans native, has been involved with Take Paws Rescue since August 2016 as a foster. Since her initial foster, Jessica has steadily become more and more involved in the rescue by taking on several different positions of leadership. Jessica is responsible for the online petfinder listings, which creates profiles for the different pups available for adoption, while highlighting their greatest qualities and also considering which types of homes will best suit the needs of the pets. Jessica is also the adoption/foster coordinator who is responsible for reviewing applications, conducting phone interviews, home checks, and even post adoption visits to ensure that all the animals placed in forever homes are happy and healthy and living their best possible life. 

Among the many hats Jessica wears as part of the Take Paws team, she coordinates with the vets, making sure appointments are made for dogs in the rescue.

As a New Orleans native, Jessica also understands the need for community support and often takes a role in the adoption events in the community. The rescue also communicates with other local agencies who lend a helping hand in transports and making miracles happen for pets during natural disasters. 

Not only does Jessica help with placing animals in the best possible homes, but she works on training the animals who she fosters and helps other fosters do the same. Jessica understands that many of these animals have gone through abuse and lack of attention, and she takes great care to train and help rehabilitate these animals into trusting loving pets. Over the years, Jessica has fostered near twenty pups and placed them into wonderful forever homes (including adding a couple to her fur-crew!). Her dedication to helping animals is outstanding and continues to make an impact on the lives of the many pets in the Take Paws Rescue. 

Kelsey Bonnaffons

Board Member

Kelsey Bonnaffons is a New Orleans native, though she attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!), where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. She then attended Tulane University School of Law, where she obtained her Juris Doctor and was a student attorney in the Domestic Violence Clinic.


Kelsey currently practices law in New Orleans and Mandeville.  Meanwhile, she is active in the community and passionate about charity work. She is the Vice President and ASIST Scholarship Chair for Executive Women International, New Orleans Chapter, and was elected to serve as Chapter President in 2018-2019. In addition, Kelsey is on her firm's Hogs for the Cause committee, which raises money for families with pediatric brain cancer. She has two rescue dogs, Myrtle and Tonks, and joined Take Paws Rescue in 2016. She currently serves on the Board as the Volunteer and Calendar Chair. 

Tico Soto

Board Member

Tico Soto is in the business of tourism and hospitality, so he knows how to get you where you want to go. He’s a Certified Destination Marketing Executive, a past president of the Louisiana Society of Association Executives, and a past member of the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association board of directors. Let’s just say, he knows, and lives, tourism to a T.  It’s hard not to form a close relationship with Tico, and once you meet him, you’ll see why. It’s what he lives for--serving his clients, and boosting sales numbers is just an added bonus. Throughout his career, he has developed not just partnerships, but friendships.  During his tenure with the New Orleans CVB as director of tourism, he oversaw three European offices in their day-to-day promotion of New Orleans, assisting in maintaining their monthly goals. He worked with international wholesalers, tour operators, and US receptive operators in the eastern European and China markets. Tico also prepared and maintained an annual budget, and he organized sales missions involving membership participation, negotiating rates, preparing budgets, and finally implementing the programs.

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