Alumni and Friends

OHIO alumna's generosity transforms the lives of shelter dogs - and Bobcats, too

Tina Skestos is no stranger to blazing trails. The two-time Bobcat was the first woman to graduate from Ohio University’s Master of Sports Administration program – the world’s oldest and currently the world’s best – and today, she and her husband operate a dog veterinary and resource network unlike any other in the U.S.

Skestos, BSPE ’73, MSA ’74, and her husband George founded Gigi’s in Canal Winchester, Ohio, in 2018 to help address shelter overcrowding and lack of access to veterinary care across the state while developing a model that can be replicated nationwide.

The state-of-the-art, 26,000-square-foot facility receives homeless dogs from underfunded community shelters in southeast Ohio and offers full veterinary services, behavior training, and temporary housing at no cost to rural shelter partners. Once they’re ready for a new home, Gigi’s places the dogs in loving, well-matched adopter homes.

“Gigi’s is a passion project where my husband, George, and I combine our desire to save dogs, make lasting change for future generations, and create new lives for both people and dogs,” Skestos said. “We’re providing care for thousands of homeless, helpless dogs all while helping people learn, grow, and improve their skills in veterinary care and shelter management.”

Skestos’ generosity extends to her alma mater, where she established the Justine Skestos Scholarship, which provides full funding support to students in OHIO’s graduate sports administration program – all as a way to pay forward the support she received while a student.

“Without the funds I received, I would not have been able to pay my way in the program. I wanted to give back so future students could also live their dreams,” she explained. 

In the years following her graduation, Skestos said she paid the University back in full and more for the amount she received in scholarships to say, “thank you.” “My education allowed me the opportunity to be successful in my professional life. That enabled me to pursue this Gigi charitable mission.”

Recipients of the Skestos Scholarship have visited and volunteered at Gigi’s over the years. The latest recipient, Kay Harden, MBA ’22, MSA ’23, recently toured the facility, which impacts the lives of more than 6,000 dogs each year.

“Meeting Tina and visiting Gigi’s was truly an honor,” Harden said. “It was amazing to be able to see her passion come to life to transform the way proper health care should be done for dogs. Her generosity and kindness have impacted me in so many ways during my short visit there. I now understand the importance of giving back and having a greater purpose in doing so.”

Skestos’ dedication to helping others, whether dogs or Bobcats, has transformed Harden’s academic experience and makes her proud to be part of the OHIO family, she said.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to have received the Justine Skestos Scholarship from the first woman to graduate from the sports ad program,” Harden said. “She is truly dedicated to enhancing the community around her. This support has allowed my being able to experience the sports ad program to the fullest. It has taught me that great alumni come from this program and that I will always have my Ohio University family to lean on.”

For more information on Gigi’s, visit

December 13, 2022
Staff reports