Baltimore native was assistant director for Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, ‘loved animals more than anything’
Dana Hersl, a Baltimore native, Canton bartender and assistant director of veterinary services for the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, died in her sleep of an unknown cause March 4. She was 41.
“She was an animal whisperer. We could go anywhere and any animal would walk up to her,” said Alisha Gladfelter, a friend who lived with Ms. Hersl in Florida and Baltimore. “In Key West, birds would follow her inside. She loved animals more than anything.”
Ms. Hersl was born Feb. 10, 1982, and was the daughter of Charlie Hersl and the late Brenda Short. She grew up on Foster Avenue in Highlandtown. As a girl, Ms. Hersl would carry stray animals home to feed, said Liz Flores, a childhood friend. The two attended the Institute of Notre Dame in Oldtown and graduated in 1998.
Ms. Hersl earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Towson University in 2005. In addition to Key West, Ms. Hersl lived in Ocean City for a few years before returning to Baltimore, making fast friends wherever she went.
“She was the kindest, sweetest person in the whole world. She would do anything for anybody. She was my whole world,” Ms. Gladfelter said. The pair met when Ms. Hersl worked as a bartender at Plug Ugly’s in Canton, now Cowboy Row, where Ms. Hersl continued to work in recent years.
Combining her passion for animals with her unfaltering work ethic, Ms. Hersl quickly rose through the ranks at BARCS. She started in 2017 as a surgical technician, prepping animals to be spayed and neutered, and monitoring their recovery. By 2021, she was an assistant director overseeing the surgery department. She managed a staff of 15.
“She was a phenomenal employee and picked up quickly on everything,” said Lisa Morabito, BARCS director of operations. “She was always willing to do way beyond what was asked of her. She came in early and stayed late. She helped every other department. There was literally never a time where that girl sat still. She was constantly on the go.”
Despite being in a stressful position, Ms. Hersl’s demeanor was always positive, and her smile was infectious. She treated animals and their owners with respect and kindness, Ms. Morabito said. She never gave up on the troubled dogs and cats — rather she coaxed loving personalities out of the unfriendliest of animals, her friends said.
Ms. Hersl left BARCS in 2022 for medical reasons. She was diagnosed with Lyme disease and had lifelong kidney problems, Ms. Flores said.
In her free time, Ms. Hersl was frequently fostering animals and volunteering at additional animal welfare centers, especially farms that cared for her favorite animal, pigs. She enjoyed being outdoors, paddleboarding and hiking. Her 11-year-old bulldog mix, Darla, and her cat, Fraunk, were her world, Ms. Gladfelter said.
“That dog hit the jackpot when Dana adopted her. She went everywhere with her. Dana would take Fraunk as many places as possible. It was not unheard of for Fraunk to be driving around in the car with her,” Ms. Morabito said.
Ms. Hersl was beloved in the animal welfare community and Baltimore bar scene. She was a great gift-giver and a thoughtful friend, Ms. Morabito said. A celebration of life at The Chasseur was packed in March, Ms. Flores said. BARCS plans to create a memorial garden in her honor, complete with a magnolia tree, her favorite flower, and a statue of a pig.
Another celebration of life will be at 7 p.m. March 30 at Cowboy Row at 2908 O’Donnell St.
In addition to her father, Ms. Hersl is survived by her father’s wife, Robin Hersl, of Kingsville, and many cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.