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Meet Our Speakers


2020 Working Dog Conference Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Prins_Simon with DogsSimon Prins -Simon Prins ACT!

Simon Prins is known for introducing operant conditioning to the Police K9 training world. For the last 25 years, he has skillfully trained and purposed dogs for special operation missions and has mastered the art of using robotics and sensors with dogs to perform such tasks successfully. Simon has titled and trained countless dogs and trainers from special units across the globe and firmly believes that science can significantly improve our work with animals. Simon Prins is a speaker, author, innovator, animal trainer and behaviorist, and is currently working with the Netherlands Police Agency. Simon's interest in canine work peaked when he was on a hunting trip with dogs in1989. He was impressed with their abilities and started looking into opportunities to work with dogs. Not soon after, he joined the police force and became one of the youngest patrol dog handlers. In 1996, he was asked to set up a special K9 project incorporating the use of radio guided camera dogs. In the years that followed, he implemented programs such as hard surface tracking, laser guided attack dogs, and various levels of detection to name a few. In 2002, Simon created the Urban Search and Rescue Unit selecting and training 16 dogs and handlers to work alongside him in search and rescue operations. In 2006, he started to incorporate the use of electronics with dogs even more, outfitting them with sensors and training them to carry small robots into operations. In the years since, Simon has written countless training protocols and has developed a number of innovative training apparatus. He believes that following protocols, collecting data and educating trainers has been the key to his success, as well as replacing traditional punishment training methods with operant conditioning techniques. Simon travels the worlds extensively teaching working dog trainers how to do the same. 

Conference Speakers

Jeanne Brock, Working Dog Conference

Jeanna Brock, LVT - Canine Performance Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University

Jeanne Brock has had a lifetime long interest in dogs and their abilities. This evolved into training dogs, first for AKC obedience and tracking trials, then schutzhund training and competition. Tracking, scent and detection work were always her main interest and led to training for search and rescue and cadaver recovery. Beginning as a "hobby", my interest grew to become my profession. For many years, training and working dogs (and handlers) in canine detection - flammable liquid detection, drugs and explosives - in the public and private sector was my work. In 2003, Jeanne joined Auburn University's Canine Detection Training Center as a senior instructor and trainer, teaching classes and training dogs for various scent work including drugs, explosives and chemical detection. During this time, she was instrumental in development and training of the Vapor Wake Dog, now a patented training process. In 2004, she also became manager of the breeding program, initiating and developing the Auburn Dog Prison Program as an integral part of the breeding program. Retiring from full-time work with Auburn and the Canine Performance Sciences program, she continues working as consultant/advisor to the Auburn Dog Prison Program. In addition, she works as a consultant to VaporWake K9, continuing to teach and evaluate dog and handler teams in the field.

Allie Bender, Working Dog ConferenceAllie Bender, CDBC - Pet Harmony

Sponsored by Dogwise

Allie Bender is the founder and co-owner of Pet Harmony Animal Behavior & Training, co-founder of First Train Home, and co-author of Canine Enrichment for the Real World: Making it a Part of Your Dog's Daily Life. Allie is a national speaker, published author, behavior consultant, and an animal welfare advocate. She has been working with rescue groups and shelters since 2006 in various capacities, including founding a student-run animal welfare organization. Allie started dog training professionally in 2012 and by 2015 became the lead dog behavior consultant at Best Friends Animal Society, the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the nation. Allie has a BS in Animal Science from Iowa State University and is certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and Council for Certification of Professional Dog Trainers.

Jerry Bradshaw, Working Dog Conference 2020Jerry Bradshaw -Tarheel Canine

Jerry Bradshaw is Training Director & President of Tarheel Canine Training, Inc. (www.tarheelcanine.com) in Sanford, North Carolina. Jerry is the co-founder, executive director, International Regional Director, and director of judging for The Protection Sports Association (www.psak9.org) as well as a founding director and evaluator of the National Tactical Police Dog Association (www.tacticalcanine.com) known as NTPDA.
Jerry has been training dogs for competitive protection sports since 1991, been a member of IPO sport clubs and the training director of Tarheel Canine PSA one of the most successful PSA clubs in the country. Jerry has competed in National Championship trials in both IPO and PSA, winning the PSA National Championships in 2003 with his dog Ricardo v.d. Natuurzicht PSA 3. Jerry has trained many Belgian Malinois to the highest titles in the sports in which he competed including Arrow of Tigerpaws , SchH 3 (5x), BH;  Ben von Lowenfels, SchH 2, BH; Rocky de la Maison Des Lions BH, PPD1, PSA 3; and Ricardo v.d. Natuurzicht PH 1, PPD 1, PSA 3. He is currently training Raptor PDC, PSA 1, PSA 2 and Drago PDC, PSA 1, PSA 2 for further titles in PSA, and has been inducted into the PSA Hall of Fame along with his two PSA 3 dogs, Rocky and Ricardo. Jerry and K9 Raptor were PSA 2 National Vice Champions in 2016, and K9 Raptor and K9 Drago were 2017 PSA 2 Champion and Vice Champion  respectively. Jerry is a member of the Sch3 Club, Gold Sports medal holder in IPO, and the PSA 3 club (2 time member). Many of Jerry’s employees and students have gone on to very successful careers in police K9 training and administration, DOD Contracting, sport competition and canine training after starting their careers at Tarheel Canine’s School for Dog Trainers. 

Bob Dougherty and K9 partner TangoBob Dougherty, Law Enforcement K9 Training Coordinator - Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Bob Dougherty retired after 31 years with the Cheltenham Township Police Department in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 28 of those years were spent as a dual purpose K9 handler and eventually the specialized units trainer. Bob and his three canine partners graduated from the Philadelphia Police K9 Academy between 1988 and 2014.  Bob is a long-time member of the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) and the Editor of their publication “Canine Courier”. Bob has certified all of his partners in numerous police dog trials and certifications to include one USPCA National Police Dog 1 (PD1) field trial. Bob is a certified USPCA Regional Patrol Trainer and Detector Trainer, Regional Judge for PD1, National Detector Judge, and has attended numerous training seminars to include several decoy seminars over the years to learn how to “help” both dogs and handlers be their best. Open to all types of training styles and philosophies for the betterment of training police dogs, as well being open to training styles from various police, sport and civilian dog trainers, Bob’s personal moral code is to never be cruel in the training of dogs in general, and specifically in training police working dogs. Bob’s approach is one that first looks at each dog as individualistic, focuses on establishing a solid foundation of training those basic skills necessary for young dog’s to be successful, and to remove the conflict which can occur between a dog and handler due to harsh and often premature physical corrections. Bob believes that trainers need to be actively involved with training dogs, and not just sitting back evaluating from afar.            

Jenny EsslerJennifer Essler, PhD - Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Dr. Jennifer Essler worked for a number of years researching cognition and social behaviors in non-human primates, namely capuchin monkeys. She received her PhD in Comparative Cognition from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. Her dissertation focused on the effects of domestication on inequity aversion and cooperation in the domestic dog and the gray wolf. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, working at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. Here, she runs the general research department of the WDC, including the cancer detection research, odor threshold studies, as well as investigates ways to quantify and analyze the training done at the WDC in order to further improve working dog training and placement.

Brian Farr, Working Dog Conference 2020Brian Farr - Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Major Farr is a veterinarian and sports medicine and rehabilitation resident, and research fellow at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. Major Farr graduated from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 and commissioned into the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. He served at the tactical and operational level for five years in several Special Operations commands. He has experience with the selection, training, program management, and operational utilization of conventional and Special Operations military working dogs. He also developed and taught highly realistic Canine Tactical Combat Casualty Care courses. Major Farr will continue his active duty service after completion of his time at the Working Dog Center. Major Farr is completing a Master’s Degree in Translational Medicine through the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His research projects focus on developing and validating assessments and training programs for all aspects of working dog physical performance.

Nathan Hall

Nathan Hall, PhD - Texas Tech University

Dr. Hall is an Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science at Texas Tech University and the Director of the Canine Olfaction Research and Education Laboratory in the Department of Animal Science. Dr. Hall earned his PhD at the University of Florida, specializing in the study of Behavior Analysis and canine olfaction. As a post-doc, he continued his studies at Arizona State University investigating the optimization of training to enhance canine’s detection of Homemade Explosives. At Texas Tech, his work continues to explore canine olfactory perception and how experience influences odor perception. His lab also investigates predictors and correlates of problem behavior, behavioral predictors of working aptitude, and canine health. Throughout his career, Dr. Hall has published numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters.

Paul HelmsPaul Helms, LMT, CPT - Helms Performance

Paul considers himself an “injury rehab specialist”, bridging the gap from rehab to sports and active life, as opposed to a traditional sports massage therapist or personal trainer. By thoroughly assessing his clients injuries with consideration for their goals, Paul uses manual therapy methods and corrective exercises to get to the ultimate source of injuries. Paul also educated clients with detailed instructions and videos to give them a toolbox of skills they’ll need to live, work, and play pain-free. Over the course of his injury rehabilitation and sport performance career, Paul has treated NFL players (Philadelphia Eagles), NBA Players (Philadelphia 76ers), professional aerialists, D1 college athletes, international squash players, and, of course, dog handlers at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. Paul is currently in the process of obtaining his Doctorate of Chiropractic medicine from Logan University in St. Louis, MO to expand his expertise and enable him to be even more effective helping people live and move pain free.

Melody Jackson, Working Dog Conference

Melody Jackson - Georgia Tech University

Dr. Jackson is the Director of the Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI) Lab at Georgia Tech. She and her team research ways of applying technology to working dog tasks such as communication, medical alert, and quantifying aspects of behavior to predict suitability for working dog roles. Dr. Jackson has a long history as an animal trainer; she has been involved with service dogs with Canine Companions for Independence since 1994 and has raised five service dog puppies for that organization. She also actively competes her own dogs in agility and Nose Work.

Sarah Kane - Penn Vet Working Dog CenterSarah Kane, Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Sarah Kane, a recent graduate of Hamilton College, has been volunteering at the Penn Vet Working since high school. While in her senior year of college Sarah wrote her thesis using data from the PVWDC on "Identifying predictive behaviors for a search and rescue career in puppies." The preliminary results from her thesis informed some of the work she will be presenting about at the 2020 conference. In addition to the research she conducted for her thesis, Sarah has done research with diabetic alert dogs. Sarah's main research interests are early predictive behavioral testing in future working dogs, and the relationship between early socialization and future career aptitude in working dogs. 

Kerry LemeriseKerry Lemerise, Puppy Program Manager -Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Kerry Lemerise has been with the Guiding Eyes puppy program for over 10 years. Prior to that, Kerry managed the puppy program at NEADS World Class Service Dogs. She has a Masters in Adult Education from Lesley University and has taught adults in a wide variety of situations from GED classes to snowboarding to dog training.

Jennifer Lapin, Working Dog Conference

Jennifer Lapin, PhD, Director of PennVet Evaluation and Assessment - University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Jennifer Lapin is Director of Evaluation & Assessment at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Prior to her appointment with the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Lapin was the Director of GME Evaluation & Assessment for the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lapin also has experience as the supervisor of evaluation, assessment and research for a Delaware school district as well as experience conducting research for the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Assessment and the Center for Collaborative Research in Jefferson’s College of Health Professions. Dr. Lapin’s background includes experience in medical education research, program evaluation and psychometrics. She has experience in all aspects of the research process, from research design to data collection and analysis to dissemination of results. She has also conducted research and co-authored articles and presentations relating to medical education, curriculum implementation, medical resident training and job satisfaction among allied health practitioners.

Dr. Jenni Punt, Penn VetJennifer Punt, VMD, PhD - University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

Jenni Punt, VMD, PhD is an immunologist who has spent most of her career integrating research and teaching. She was a Biology Professor at Haverford College for eighteen years, during which she and her students worked to understand the molecular and cellular regulation of T cell and hematopoietic stem cell development. An Associate Dean for Student Research at Columbia University’s School of Physicians and Surgeons from 2013-2015, she was the founding director of an MD/MSc dual degree program focused on medical scholarship and continued to investigator the regulation of hematopoiesis with students in the laboratory. Tempted back to the School of Veterinary Medicine at UPenn (after an educational adventure teaching advanced biology in high school), she is now developing new educational programs as the Associate Dean of One Health and Professor in the Pathobiology Department. Her research on immune cell regulation continues, and she works at Penn Vet with undergraduate and veterinary students to understand the role of IGF1, a growth factor that plays a role in determining dog size, in immune cell activity.

David RobertsDavid Roberts, PhD - North Carolina State University

Dr. David L. Roberts is an Associate Professor of Computer Science, and Interim Director of the Digital Games Research center in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University where he runs the CIIGAR Research Group (https://ciigar.csc.ncsu.edu). He received his PhD in 2010 from the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and BA in Computer Science and Mathematics from Colgate University in 2003. Dave has also co-founded two startup companies developing products involving artificial intelligence and animal computer interaction. Dave's research has attracted substantial external funding from the National Science Foundation, the Intelligence Community, as well as corporate and non-profit partners like IBM and Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Dr. Roberts has a background and formal training in statistical machine learning, but his professional interests lie at the intersection of computation and behavior. More specifically, Dave works on how technology can provide insight into, or shape, behavior in the physical world and how behavior in the physical world can be modeled computationally to create new computational capabilities. Throughout his career he has worked on problems involving two main application areas: virtual experiences (i.e., computer games) and animal-computer interaction. In the context of games, Dave works on techniques to identify and influence cognitive and social psychological phenomena with the goal of better understanding users and providing more powerful, engaging, and authorially-intended experiences. When it comes to animal-computer interaction, his primary efforts have involved the design of integrated hardware and software systems to support two-way, computer-mediated communication between humans and animals, with a primary emphasis on dogs. His projects have spanned Computer-Assisted Training Systems (CATS) for dogs, wearable physiological monitoring, and drone-assisted handling of Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs. In addition, his collaborative work on technologies for SAR dogs resulted in a visit and demonstration at the White House in 2014. His work has been featured in major national and international media outlets like PBS, BBC, The Atlantic, WSJ, and IFLS. With a real passion for animal behavior, Dave spends his free time training whenever possible. In addition to his professional interests, he shares his home with four dogs, including two Labrador Retrievers he trains for hunt tests and field trial competitions.

RotheCarl Rothe, Senior Instructor - Puppies Behind Bars

Carl Rothe is the senior instructor for Puppies Behind Bars (PBB), a non-profit organization that trains prison inmates to raise, train and care for puppies that will become service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders as well as explosive detection canines for law enforcement. Mr. Rothe took his love and passion for his own Labrador Retrievers, and began his career in dog obedience training. This lead to his employment at a nationally renowned guide dog school located in the New York metropolitan area. It was here that he worked and received formal training and eventually took an instructor position with PBB. Now as the Senior Instructor his duties include the training and instruction of new staff as well as opening and preliminary instruction for the program in new correctional facilities. Mr. Rothe also oversees the breeding program which is responsible for producing 35 to 45 puppies per year. Founded in 1997 by Gloria Gilbert Stoga, PBB has become a world leader in prison dog raising programs. The quality of the dogs produced is second to none, but equally important is the effect the program has on the inmates who care for the dogs. The puppies live in prison with their ‘puppy raisers’ from age eight weeks until eighteen months. As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-trained dogs their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it.

Russenberger

Jane Russenberger, BS - Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Over the past 32 years, Jane has been the Director of Genetics and Breeding at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York. Using various scoring systems in collaboration with multiple specialists, Jane has studied and scored aspects of behavior on thousands of potential guide dogs. The knowledge gained has been incorporated into improving the genetic as well as environmental influences on behavior of 170 Labrador and German Shepherd guide dogs annually produced by Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

 

Carlo SiracusaCarlo Siracusa, DVM, PhD, DACVB, DECAWBM - University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Clinical Behavior Medicine

Born in Italy, Carlo Siracusa got his DVM from the University of Messina, Italy, and his PhD from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, defending a thesis on perioperative stress in dogs and the effect of pheromone therapy. He completed his residency in Animal Behavior at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Clinical Animal Behavior and Welfare, and the Director of the Animal Behavior Service. Carlo is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, of which he is the President Elect, and by the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavior Medicine. His research interests are focused on canine stress evaluation and control; canine and feline temperament evaluation; prognostic factors and treatment outcome of behavior problems; behavior and cognitive changes in dogs with medical disease.

Bridget Stewart-Working Dog Center

Bridget Stewart-Beardsley, Trainer - Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Bridget’s interest in canine behavior started at a young age. She began working dogs in 4H with her Rhodesian Ridgeback and as a puppy raiser for The Seeing Eye. Through these experiences she learned about puppy development and learning curves. Throughout college she worked at a local animal shelter as a trainer and behavior evaluator. She worked with the shelter dogs teaching obedience, loose leash walking, and kennel manners. She also worked with staff and volunteers teaching positive training methods and canine behavior and body language. This helped the shelter team facilitate better matches with potential owners which led to more successful adoptions. Bridget attended Delaware Valley University and graduated with a Small Animal Science degree with a focus in animal behavior. The school provided a hands on learning program and she was able to successfully train a variety of animals from chickens to horses. After graduating, she began interning at the Working Dog Center where she learned about drive, scent work, and the training of working dogs. Now as one of our full time trainers Bridget says she is continuing to learn and improve her skills every day and that she “absolutely loves her job!” Bridget also offers her expertise to the public through evening classes offered through the Working Dog Center.

Mandy Tisdale, Working Dog Conference 2020Mandy Tisdale, CPDT-KA, Canine Training Manager - National Disaster Search Dog Foundation  

Mandy brings extensive training experience to the Canine Training Program as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). In addition to her canine training experience, Mandy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in leading and motivating large teams of people as a manager of clinical trials for an international biopharmaceutical company. As Canine Training Manager, Mandy evaluates, trains, and socializes search dog candidates for pairing with handlers as search teams. She also provides ongoing training support to search teams across the country as they prepare for certification, in order to maintain top deployment readiness. Mandy’s passion for the human-canine bond also drives her to find lasting career change opportunities or forever homes under the Lifetime Care Program for search dog recruits having talents that lie outside urban search and rescue.

Scott Thomas, Consultant - AKC Detection Dog Task ForceScott Thomas, Working Dog Conference 2020

Scott Thomas became a federal employee of the TSA Canine Training and Evaluations Branch in 2005. He was the program manager of the breeding program, which produced more than 500 dogs specifically bred for detection work. This effort required the application of genetic quantitative trait selection, continual behavioral assessments, the understanding and use of exercises to control epigenetic expression, and maintenance of good canine health within the breeding colony. He oversaw two Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate research contracts to improve behavioral metrics, enhance development, identify genetic markers of success, and trans-generational epigenetic effects. Due to economic restraints, the TSA Canine Breeding and Development Center’s efforts were discontinued. At that point, Scott oversaw the contracting efforts for canine procurement for single-purpose detection dogs. Scott began his career in animal husbandry and training in 1983 as a dog obedience instructor and boarding kennel operator. He then spent five years as a veterinary assistant and worked in a variety of animal-related jobs including dolphin and sea lion training, exotic animal habitat design, eco-tour guide of Carolina coastal habitats, and exotic bird presentations. He currently serves as consultant to the AKC Detection Dog Task Force and manages the AKC Patriotic Puppy Program.