Owners:  Jill and Jason Lydic

Jill has been working with and training animals her whole life. Her desire to care for them led to four years of experience as a Veterinary Technician, providing her with extensive knowledge in first aid and preventative care. She was always most fascinated by behavior, though, and that interest led her to pursue a career in marine mammal training while doing some dog training on the weekends. For nine years, Jill worked with gray, harp, and harbor seals and Atlantic and Pacific bottlenose dolphins, gaining valuable experience in positive reinforcement training techniques. She also attended various training workshops involving walruses, sea lions, penguins, otters, and elephants. Training large mammals to participate in medical exams voluntarily requires plenty of patience, and Jill’s compassion for animals is obvious when you see her interact with them. As a Senior Marine Mammal Trainer, she had the opportunity to train three dolphins from birth, so she has the skills needed to work with young, naive animals. She enjoys watching the animals (and their humans!) learn and helping people bond with their dogs during the training process. Her own dogs are her children, so she understands the importance of having them in your life.

Jason has worked with numerous exotic and sometimes rare animals, including amphibians such as salamanders and poison dart frogs, large reptiles like crocodilians and anacondas, as well as primates, birds, hoofstock, and venomous insects.  His eight years of college education to the level of a Master’s degree in Biology served him well for many years in the field of animal care and it now serves him well in the art world.  You don’t see him at the daycare much anymore as he has transitioned to being a full time artist making metal sculptures of animals and plants.  You can find his work at

Jill and Jason share their home with two nutty Jack Russell Terriers, Zipper (the ball obsessed) and ZigZag (a.k.a. Chicken Legs), pictured below.






Supervisor:  Jackie Novak

Jackie Novak has loved and worked with animals her whole life. She has worked quite a bit in the rescue field and has been a vital part of the YWIP team for many years.  She has been known to make special treats for the daycare dogs and is always showering them with love.  At home, Jackie takes care of four dogs, ten donkeys, and John, her partner in crime since 2006. (She readily admits that John is the hardest to care for and that she will never again adopt another human male!!)

John Novak

John Novak has worked with animals his entire life, starting with his work on horse farms in Kentucky which began with mucking stalls at age seven.  In his work at the stables, John groomed and hot walked Secretariat, assisted jockeys Pat Day and Willie Shumaker at the races, and even met the Queen of England!  He has also worked at dairy farms and animal shelters, so there aren’t many domesticated animals that he hasn’t cared for.  At home, he and Jackie care for their brood while Jackie does her best to keep John in line!!

Anna O’Neill

Anna is originally from Marion but moved to Asheville in 2017.  She has an Associate’s Degree from McDowell Tech and has diverse work experience including two years in a veterinary office and six years as a tour guide at Linville Caverns.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, live music, and hiking with her dog, Mae, who also helps out at the daycare by keeping the puppies in line with her wicked side eye!

Rachel Nuzzo

Rachel was born in Alabama, spent time in Tampa, then moved to Waynesville in 2010.  She has worked with horses and competed in rodeo events (barrel racing and pole bending) for 11 years.  Then she and her horse, Tigger, ran an equine boarding facility for a year and a half.  Rachel also worked with police dogs, training them in bite work and protection.  She is currently taking online courses and doing some shadowing work to get her certification as a Veterinary Technician.  Her derpy Belgian Malinois, Gator, keeps her very busy, both at daycare and at home!  In her spare time, Rachel enjoys retrofitting picnic tables into pontoon boats and hanging out with her Uncle Otis and PeePaw.

Stephanie Thurman

Stephanie is Asheville born and raised!  She is a baker by training, following in the footsteps of her grandparents, and owned her own bakery for 20 years before burning out (pun intended) and selling it in 2016.  She decided she needed a change and wanted to work with animals, so she came out of retirement to join the team here at YWIP.  She does have animal experience as a mother of four fur babies (Snoopy, Sweet Sally, Edgar Lamar, and Cora Leonard Paws) and has extensive experience with farm animals and as an amateur horsewoman.  She is excited about this career change and we are excited that she knows how to bake delicious goodies!

Shiloh Wood

Shiloh was born in Connecticut and lived there for 10 years before, unfortunately, moving to Georgia.  He came to Asheville since it’s better than Georgia and he has some good friends in the area that convinced him to join them!  (And since he’s a big fan of hiking, he’s definitely glad he’s here!)  Shiloh is currently enrolled in the Penn Foster Veterinary Technician program and thought that caring for your dogs would be good experience to help him understand canine behavior.  He has a sweet Staffie of his own named Delilah that he rescued from an abusive situation and after working with a trainer she has made a lot of progress in overcoming her fear and anxiety.

Addie Miller

Addie was born in Phoenix, Arizona and lived there until making the cross country move to Asheville in 2019.  She has always wanted to work with animals and wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time until she realized how long she would have to go to school!!  She did work for a veterinarian while living in Arizona and enjoyed caring for the animals.  She has a shepherd mix named Goliath and a cat named Tiburn that she adopted after moving here.  In her spare time, Addie enjoys hanging out in downtown Asheville, hiking to our wide variety of waterfalls, and amateur photography.  Although it took this desert child awhile to get used to the mountain lifestyle, she is now loving Asheville and enjoying her time taking care of your cute fur babies!