Buster’s Brigade is a 501c3 organization committed to providing financial and material assistance for the basic and emergency needs of dogs and cats in Mahoning County and surrounding areas.

Buster's Story

Buster was a beautiful dog who was tragically misunderstood and therefore not given a chance at a happy life.  At Buster’s Brigade, he is our inspiration to give every dog and cat in need a chance at that happy, healthy life. 


Our mission is to supply community members with preventative medical care and food, in times of hardship, for their dogs and cats as well as assist with rehoming when needed. 


Buster reminds us to advocate for those who need help and to educate the public on ways to get that help.  He is our motivation to show that if we all work together, we can be the hearts that hug, the hands that seek to provide for and protect, and the voices who speak up for the dogs and cats in our community.


Our Board

We are a driven group of individuals working towards a greater good. With diverse professions and backgrounds, as well as our own unique resources, we all have one thing in common; the love of animals and a passion for rescue. With a team like this we are confident we can help improve the lives of many dogs and cats in need.

Lauren Potts-Novotak


"All my life I have had a passion for animals. Mom once called me the Den Mother because whenever I went to bed all the pets would follow and sleep in my room.

I became involved with rescue, shelter work, and fostering in 2013. My husband took a job at a local animal shelter. He was responsible for managing the cat wing which held around 200 cats at any given time. I was eventually hired in as well and was working with volunteers, education, outreach, and events. We eventually had to leave those jobs but we stayed involved with animals.

My husband joined the board with the local humane society and I reached out to other organizations to see if I could participate. Life got a little hectic and eventually that all went on hold. We were planning our wedding, bought our first home, had to refinish a lot of things, and then moved.

It's been a whirlwind of a few years but now that the dust has settled I am beyond excited to be working with these wonderful people for such a great cause."

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"My heart and home would not be complete without a rescue dog, or two or three. 

I am a big fan of floppy ears, sloppy kisses and furry snuggles.


I have always had a passion for helping animals and have volunteered for several shelters and rescues in the area.  There is a lot of good going on in our community. 


I am very excited to be a part of the start-up of Buster’s Brigade.  With the enthusiasm, compassion, dedication and determination of our board, we are certain to reach a lot of pet owners and dogs and cats who need our services."


Rodd Coonce is an actor, singer, florist and was the Litigation and Claims Manager for Phar-Mor Corporation.


Rodd lived in Los Angeles for fifteen years and acted in film, television and theater. In 1990 he moved back to Ohio because his mother had melanoma that metastasized throughout her body. They gave her less than a 5% chance of surviving more than two years. He wanted to spend that time with her. Twenty-eight years later she is still with us. Her oncologist even said it was a miracle.


Rodd believes you bloom where you are planted and has enjoyed not only the extended time with his mother, but also the opportunities that Youngstown affords.


Rodd has always had a family of dogs and cats. He and his partner, Jack Peterson, have an eleven year old Golden Retriever, Hollie Berrie Bower, and the household now also has four other dogs.


The four other dogs found Rodd and Jack. Rodd and Jack did not go searching for other dogs. The fantastic four consist of a beautiful Golden-Shepherd-Beagle mix named Vincent Van Gogh Bower, a tall slim greyhound looking cinnamon colored terrier named Cinnaminnie Bower, a basset hound named Dudlie D-Right Bower, and a very small terrier mix named Daisie Maie Bower. All four dogs were without a home, but landed in doggie heaven!


Donna Sekman

"I began volunteering and helping dogs 6 years ago, after we adopted our current pups Radley and Cabot.

I started as a volunteer dog walker and eventually began transporting dogs to rescues. I believe the greatest privilege in the world is to be the voice for those who cannot speak."


"We always had dogs while I was growing up and they were always a part of the family.


I started volunteering at Angels for Animals in 2008 or 2009.  I met someone that was a volunteer at the local pound in 2010 and they told me how much they needed help. 


I started volunteering and met other people who shared the same passion as I did-helping the dogs who were homeless.  I quickly became involved in the rescue side of helping the dogs. 


I am excited to be a part of Buster’s Brigade and look forward to helping many more dogs and cats."


Jennifer Anderson, DVM

Born and raised in North Haledon, New Jersey, Dr. Jennifer Kotouch did both her undergraduate and veterinary studies at The Ohio State University, graduating from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012.


Following graduation, Dr. Kotouch went into a private small animal practice near Pittsburgh, PA. After 2 years in traditional practice, Dr. Kotouch went on to shelter medicine as well as low-cost clinical work at a humane society in Youngstown, Ohio where she found her true calling.


Eager to take what she learned in both private practice and shelter medicine and expand her experience, Dr. Kotouch took a position with Cleveland Spay Neuter.


Dr. Kotouch and her husband Dain live in Youngstown, Ohio with their four-legged family, which includes 4 dogs (Abel, Daisy, Goofy, and Meeko), 4 cats (Athena, Bagheera, Munchkin, and Meatball), 3 Nigerian Dwarf goats (Chip, Dale, and Aladdin), 1 kunekune pig (Merida), and 1 domestic rabbit (Piper). 


Christopher Sekman

Growing up in Canfield, our family always had a rescue dog.


I believe that our pets give us more than we give them.


My 2 rescue dogs Harley and Kimber have not only given me love, but have showed me that guidance, patience and time can make a true difference in the lives of our pets.


I know our services will make a difference in the lives of pets and their families too.