Team > Marketing
justin with dogs

Justin Velasquez

Digital Marketing Manager

dog on floor

Teammates? We Like the Sound of That

If you are looking to join our doggone awesome community, zoomie over to our careers page because working for Rarebreed is better than chewing on a never ending bully stick.

If you know any veterinary hospital friends with a best-in-show skillset, refer them through our ruff-erral program.

justin with dogs

Justin Velasquez

Digital Marketing Manager

Fun Fact: Justin is a private skateboard instructor.

Justin began his career as a graphic designer exploring his creative side with Maine businesses such as the Portland Press Herald. After working in the design field for a few years he switched focus to marketing. He became an in-house marketer for a managed IT firm and then made the switch to agency employment where he gained exposure to many industries. From there, Justin decided to move back to an in-house role for a company whose mission he truly believes in, which led him to Rarebreed.


Justin lives in his Westbrook home with his partner and their two rescue dogs, Vincent and John. He is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys activities including disc golf, river floats, and hiking up and down Mount Washington in a day. He is also an avid skateboarder, longboarder, and snowboarder.

Shaylee smiling with a golden retriever

Shaylee Russ

Senior Practice Level Marketing Manager

Fun Fact: Shaylee owns a Boer goat named Harleen Quinzel.

Pet in Photo: Bear

Shaylee began her career in the veterinary industry at a young age, working with her mother at a veterinary clinic. She went to college at the University of St. Thomas, where she earned a degree in marketing and communications with a minor in accounting. During and after college she worked in a veterinary clinic as a marketing manager. She later moved to Southern California and worked for Embrace Pet Insurance and then Patterson Veterinary Supply. To give back to her local animal community, Shaylee serves as a board member for the Minnesota Spay and Neuter Association. Shaylee loves going on adventures with her rescue dog, Niko. She also enjoys hiking, scuba diving, horseback riding, and traveling.

Woman holding two chihuahuas

Ashley Niehoff

Events Planner

Fun Fact: Ashley grew up on a Hinckley sailboat named Escapade.

Pet in Photo: Rascal and Nova

Having joined Rarebreed in February 2020, Ashley is the Swiss Army knife of the company and brings a broad range of experience and skills to the Rarebreed community.

Her extensive work in executive and administrative assistant roles at The Beacon Group in Portland, Piper Shores in Scarborough, IDEXX in Westbrook and eight years at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor has sharpened her communication skills to meet client and company needs. Ashley’s career also includes excelling as a real estate broker of high-end properties and working in sales and public relations with fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto in New York City.

Ashley lives in South Portland, Maine, is an avid cyclist, and loves spending time outdoors with her family and her two dogs. She is also a certified Les Mills group fitness instructor and teaches Rarebreed’s online fitness classes as part of our dedication to wellness.

Sarah smiling with a dog

Sarah Mills

VP of Marketing & Communications

Fun Fact: Sarah sat next to and shared her popcorn with Weird Al Yankovic at a movie premier.

Pet in Photo: Ted

Sarah has spent her career advocating for accessible wellness care. She is passionate about animal health and helping all pets live their best lives filled with treats, naps in the sun and zoomies. Sarah spent nearly a decade as one of the founding members of Vets First Choice (now Covetrus) before joining the FidoCure mission to bring personalized medicine to dogs with cancer. Her time has been spent in sales, marketing and serving veterinarians.

Sarah holds a BS in psychology from Simmons University and was trained by the Disney Institute in Quality Service. She shares her little farmhouse in Cumberland Center, Maine, with 3 teenagers, a Goldendoodle named Ted, a smallish bunny and at least 93 houseplants.

Melissa smiling with a dog

Melissa Lucas

Director of Marketing

Fun Fact: Melissa spent six years working at Fenway Park.

Pet in Photo: Marty McFly

Melissa was that kid in school who knew every jingle to every commercial, so it was only natural that when she attended Bryant University she chose to major in marketing. What she didn’t expect, however, was that she could combine her love of marketing with her love of animals.

After a short stint in hospitality marketing and auction marketing, Melissa began her love affair with the veterinary industry. In 2021 she joined Rarebreed, bringing experience in practice, corporate, digital and events marketing. She’s elated to be part of the Rarebreed marketing team and looks forward to helping the industry reimagine the veterinary experience.

In her spare time, Melissa enjoys rehabbing her old house (circa 1792!), cooking and traveling. She’s joined in these adventures by her husband, two children and dog, Penny.

Janine smiling with a dog

Janine Contillo

Senior Content Marketing Manager

Fun Fact: Janine is a certified small-animal massage therapist.

Pet in Photo: Marty McFly

Janine’s career in communications – including marketing, copy editing, and writing – along with her lifelong love of animals, led her to Rarebreed. Although she’s worked in a variety of industries, including publishing, medical and security imaging, and computer software, it wasn’t until she joined Rarebreed that she felt a true connection. At Rarebreed, she’s able to do the work she enjoys the most for a company that helps the people who care for animals.

A native New Englander, Janine earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of Rhode Island. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with her husband, their dogs, Chico and Bernie, and their cats, Mr. Jones and Nana. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling abroad, listening to audiobooks, and watching British crime series.

Sam smiling with a cat

Sam Thibault, CVT

Regional Manager

Fun Fact: Sam is an avid antique collector and enjoys woodworking and restoring furniture..

Pet in Photo: Ollie

Sam is a native of the Syracuse, New York, area where she began her career as a kennel attendant at a local shelter. She found her purpose there and pursued her passion for animals by attending Mount Ida College to obtain her veterinary technology degree. She moved to Nantucket where she excelled in general practice and became a member of the New England Aquarium Marine Mammal Field Response Team. After leaving Nantucket, Sam worked for an emergency and referral hospital where she spent time in the ER/ICU and in dermatology and later worked as a supervisor. Taking a step out of practice, she refined her skills as a practice consultant.

Sam lives in the hamlet of Leeds, New York, with her wife, her dog, Petunia, three cats, Gilly, Max, and Tomato, and 15 chickens. She enjoys homesteading and restoring her 1890 farmhouse.