Our Trainers

Meet our trainers:

Kaelyn Alexander was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and currently resides there. She’s in graduate school completing a Masters in Counseling and aspires to become a fully licensed clinical mental health counselor. She loves reading, keeping up with tv shows, and hanging out with her dog. She loves to travel and it has been a joy finding different places that she can bring her dog with her like the beach! 

Sara Alexander is a wife, mom to six wild and barefoot children, and a licensed professional counselor in the state of Texas. Her favorite hobby is being in her favorite place (her bed) receiving sweet puppy snuggles, while catching a fleeting moment of quiet before she’s joined by any or all of the other seven Alexanders whom she loves dearly. She is in awe of the opportunity to train a service dog for her youngest daughter with a skeletal muscular disorder and considers this one of the greatest adventures their family has been on together. 

Pamela Amerson lives out in the country in central Georgia. She hopes that with the help of her service dog she can start getting out and about more, and also that they can do volunteer work together.  She would especially love to be able to bring joy to hospice patients, and children who are different abled. She loves Jesus, reading, crafting, and spending time with her dog.

Elizabeth Antenucci lives in Albany, NY with her wife, son, 3 dogs, and 3 cats. She was aspiring to be a dog obedience trainer in the future but decided to return to healthcare and become an LPN.

Esthela Arenas is the mother of 2 boys, 2 Siamese cats and a Pomeranian. She’s also the “mom” to many children since she has been a bilingual educator for 23 years. She came to this country when she was 10 years old without knowing a word in English. Now she gets to be an inspiration to many children wanting to learn a second language. She is also very close to accomplishing another dream, which is to be a children’s book author. Her book is going to be about her dog’s adventures. Esthela’s favorite hobbies are dancing, spending time with her 2 sons, and training her dog. 

Sofia Porter Bacon is a college student studying environmental science at Nova Southeastern University in Florida but she calls Pennsylvania home, too. She hopes to continue her studies and attend law school to study environmental law. She loves to read and although it may sound cheesy her new favorite hobby is training her dog.

Timber Bailey is 17 years old and lives in Oklahoma. She loves training her puppy, swimming, running, fishing, and just being outdoors in the country. She is excited to train her dog to become a Medical Alert Dog and spread awareness about Invisible Disorders.

Carla Balkins is a retired educator. She taught for many years utilizing the Montessori Method and also taught Spanish to elementary school children. She loves to read, hike, travel, spend time with family and train her dog. She is fascinated by alternative medicine, especially energy healing. She resides in a town named Tijeras, nestled in the east mountains of New Mexico. She enjoys watching the transformation of the mountains with the passing of each season. 

Sophie Bertocchi lives in Italy and owns a Psychiatric Service dog named Rose, who was born in 2021. Sophie has a personality disorder that sometimes makes life unbearable but thanks to Rose everything is getting better. She feels more confident going out and Rose keeps her active. In Italy, service dogs are unknown so it’s not easy to find a way to train them nor to make people understand she is a Service dog and not just a little puppy to be cuddled by strangers. But they are strong together and with training they’ll manage every situation!

Layla Beyer lives in Texas with her grandparents and attends university in Missouri. She is studying music education to become a band teacher. She enjoys spending time with her dog, her family, gardening, and painting.

Deana Boyd-Martone has been a home caregiver for 10 years. She provides care for physically disabled adults in their homes, including at home with her spouse, Kendall. She enjoys drumming, working on their computer, spending quality time with her family, going to the beach and going on walks and hikes with their kiddo and/or their pup. 

Kendall Boyd-Martone lives in NH with their wife, Deana, their 5 year old child, three spoiled cats, and their service dog in training! They have a bachelors in Environmental Science, but became totally disabled two years after earning their degree. They’re now totally disabled but working on getting their all natural soap making business off the ground. They’re a singer and love to read sci-fi and fantasy books, watch fantasy/sci-fi, make soap, go on road trips with their big sister, play with their pup and kiddo and spend quality time with their wife.

Kennedy Branch is 20 years old and enjoys her time going running and swimming with her dog. She works as a caregiver at a doggy daycare. Her hobbies are going to the gym, drawing, and traveling! 

Kathy Bright has over 20 years of experience as an owner/trainer of mobility balance Service Dogs. She shares her experience and learns new techniques to train for others. She has experience with many breeds but loves Great Danes and larger breeds. She currently resides in Ohio with her two adult daughters and their six dogs.

Anneli Brugge is a current university student in Sweden. She is studying business and economics and enjoys spending time with her dog, being with friends, swimming, and reading. She is eager to train her dog to be a Psychiatric Service Dog.

Vanessa Brugge is a licensed therapist in Florida and has been around dogs for most of her life. She is looking forward to learning the skills needed to become a service dog trainer and is excited to assist in training a service dog for her daughter. 

Bobby Burnside is a 21 year old trans man who lives in southeast Arkansas. He’s an aspiring filmmaker and appreciator of all art forms. He spends a lot of time watching films, brainstorming movie ideas, creating characters and stories, and drawing. He plays Dungeons and Dragons in his free time, and currently works in tech sales.

Alexis Burt is from Cincinnati, Ohio and recently moved to Columbus, Ohio after graduating with a bachelors of science in mechanical engineering. She works in the aerospace industry. Alexis greatly looks forward to the opportunities she will have to travel with the help of her service dog.

Katie Calahan is an actress/writer/director and runs a local children’s theater program. She received her classical training and her BFA in Theatre Studies from Boston University. She’s a native Floridian (They DO Exist!), but she’s lived in Boston, New York, Dublin, and LA. She’s currently based in the good old sunshine state, but more than happy to travel. She loves an adventure! She loves Shakespeare, dessert, kayaking, Bob’s Burgers, a great book, Disney, and her golden retriever!

Anakin Camp lives in Oregon and is a student at Pacific University. She is working on a degree in Environmental Biology. Her favorite things to do are hiking and cooking. She says she’s terrible at math but loves science.

Mary-Kate Catton is a CPA from San Diego, California. In her spare time outside of work, she is also a volleyball coach for high school aged kids. She was an NCAA student athlete in volleyball in college and loves to be active. Barcelona, Spain (her favorite place on earth) was her home for a couple years and she is fluent in Spanish. She loves to travel, go to the beach and be in the water, play volleyball, and enjoy time with family and friends. 

Victoria Chandler is 20 years old  and lives in North Carolina. She recently graduated from two colleges where she studied special effects make-up, fashion make-up, prosthetics, and cosmetology. She is currently starting her special effects make-up career in films! She enjoys playing with her dog, making crafts, and playing instruments in her spare time .

Nicole Christiano is an active Volunteer EMT and works in a local hospital. She lives in New Jersey where she enjoys hiking trails through the state park. She has experience working in a dog boarding and training facility and even fostered a chinchilla for a year.

Debbie Coffey lives in Texas and is a realtor. She loves helping people. In her free time she enjoys traveling and cooking. She is training a service dog for a dedicated recipient.

Karen Cole is a wife and mother to three wonderful adult children with special needs, including her son, which is why she loves her job! She also loves to spend quality time with her family, friend, and traveling. Her favorite part of the day is hanging with her fur babies and teaching them new things. At the end of the day, she hopes to teach her “kids” (as she calls them), the best manners ever, and to provide the best service they possible can.

Dorothy Cona (Dotty) has loved and shared her Florida home with a number of dogs over the years but now she is joining the ranks of formal dog trainers as she trains a Service Dog for a dedicated recipient.

Loribeth Crawford lives near an army base in Georgia. She’s been married for 16 years and has 5 children. She’s an artist and paints with acrylics. She loves the peace that painting brings and finds it very therapeutic.

Ashley Davis splits her time between Georgia and Kentucky. She enjoys watching TV with her husband and having meals with her family reminiscing on past adventures. She also enjoys knitting, crocheting, and reading. She’s learning to play the guitar so she can play her grandfather’s favorite song, “Brown Eyed Girl”, to him. She dreams of being a Child Life Specialist on the GI floor of the hospital where she has been cared for.

Beth DeHoff is a mother of three and works in the NICU family support program at a children’s hospital, helping families of babies with special health care needs find coverage and services that will help them. She lives in Indiana with her husband and son, who has Down syndrome and autism, and is a leukemia survivor. Her job and her volunteer work are inspired by her son. Beth has two other adult children and her lab, Maizey, third in a line of lovable labs that have graced the lives of their family. In her very limited free time, Beth likes to read and be outside.

Liandra Dematteo is from Ogden, Utah. She is currently working at a hotel and going to the Ogden Technical college for nursing. She has a passion for helping others and also loves animals. In addition to her Newfoundland Poodle mix, whom she calls a “Noodle”, she shares her home with Sheldon, a 6 year old Russian tortoise. 

India Dykes is originally from Washington State but she and her husband are moving to NY state for India to start graduate school. She will be working on her PhD in biomedical engineering at Cornell University. She hopes to work in tissue engineering research and development. India likes to knit, downhill ski, and, of course, spend as much time as she can with her goofy sighthound boys. 

April Edwards is a mother to 2 adult children, grandmother to 4 children, and a Navy veteran, having spent most of her service time with the Marines.  She is married to another Navy veteran and between the two of them, they have just over 51 years combined military service.  To call them world travelers would be an understatement, as they’ve been to 6 of the 7 continents and lived on 3 of them.  Their oldest child grew up in Asia and their youngest grew up in Europe. Traveling is something they are continuing to do.  April is a Life Style model and actor, loves to build costumes, and has a passion of cooking.

Kathy Evans lives in NJ with her husband of 34 years. She is a retired teacher and EMT. She has 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Kathy has been a dog owner all my life and dogs have always been her pet of choice. The past 30 years she has owned Rottweilers along with mixed breed dogs. She has always trained her own dogs, but this is the first time she is training a service dog.

Christine Farley lives in California. Her favorite activity is spending time with her dog, who helps her through tough times. She’s proud to participate in training a service dog because it’s hard for people to find help and can be very expensive.

Suzanne Fernandez is based in Chicago, IL. She works as a full-time elementary school teacher and part-time fitness and yoga instructor. She has a great passion for animals, particularly dogs, and loves spending time in nature, exploring cafes, traveling, practicing health and wellness, and cooking. She’s excited to have discovered ELLAS Animals INC and she and her husband are eagerly anticipating the upcoming training!

Virginia Forrest lives in South Carolina and is sharing her service dog training with her daughter, Kenzie. Virginia is a stay at home mom so she can advocate for her children full time. Her husband is retired Navy and her daughter is going to school to be a teacher. Her service dog will allow her to enjoy going places again.

Katie Fox is a born and raised Hoosier (that means she’s from Indiana). She’s been in veterinary medicine for 9 years and has been a registered vet tech for almost 6 years. She hopes to earn her vet tech specialty in behavior someday. She loves helping with her local dog rescue and working with/training dogs.

Elizabeth George lives in Ohio where she does all kinds of crafts and sells them on the side to help supplement her disability income. She is looking forward to getting out and about more with a service dog and living a more fulfilling life. 

Brooke Gibson lives in Oklahoma, where she is the AG teacher of Seminole High School. Her career aspirations are to not only show kids what is possible with agriculture but also the open doors around them. Her hobbies consist of nightly walks around the neighborhood, frequent adventures, and all things FFA. Her family is located in Bixby where she is the youngest sibling of two. She is starting this program in hopes to train her dog to become her life long pal who keeps her in check and healthy.

Israel Gonzalez lives in Arizona and is a former chef and current realtor. He often finds himself driving around for work or, if at home, playing with food in the kitchen or coming up with new cocktails. Also an avid outdoorsman, he loves hiking, camping, and backpacking. He and his wife are both lovers of small town antique shops and anything vintage or retro. They frequent restaurants a lot and love going out to family dinner or outings.

Jasmine Gordon and Taylor Dudley live in Wichita, KS. Jasmine works full time but hopes to go back to school for a teaching degree. They enjoy editing, art, and music.

Taylor Grantham is 23 years old and just graduated from a university in Missouri, where they lived for almost 17 years. They moved to the Orlando area this past summer to be closer to all the theme parks and beaches. They’d love to work with hospitality companies in human resources or sales one day. In their free time they’re at Disney or Universal riding rides, biking with their dog, hiking, and exploring their new city. They love the outdoors! 

Kylie Hansen is 23 years old and was born and raised in Nebraska. She’s recently moved to South Dakota with her boyfriend, Timothy and his dog, Izzy, and their newest addition to the family, Kaos. She is a 911 operator/dispatcher for a large part of South Dakota. Her hobbies include reading, going fishing with her boyfriend, camping, playing with their dogs, and traveling. She is excited to bring awareness to invisible disabilities, especially in an area where it is not well known or talked about.

Beisha Hernandez is 25 years old and an Arizona native. She completed her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at ASU and has applied to medical school in Ireland, where she hopes to move within the following year. Beisha enjoys cooking nourishing food that tastes good, doing yoga, and cycling. She hopes to advocate for the importance of mental health, especially in the healthcare field. 

Andrea Hollandsworth is from Colorado and has lived in Florida for 3 years. She studied Spanish education and is a photographer and an office\marketing manager. She loves tennis and anything outdoors or adventurous. She hopes to train her dog as her kayaking sidekick.

Wynter Horne is 23 years old, autistic, and currently working in tech in Virginia. She likes crafting, reading, and writing fiction. She graduated last year with a BS in psychology and is considering attending graduate school in a couple years.

Tihana Jandras lives with her family in Austin, TX metro area. She used to work as a dog groomer and now she is a homemaker. She loves to read and enjoys taking long walks with her husband and their dogs. 

Jodi Jester lives in Arkansas and is the Early Intervention Director at Kidsource Therapy where she helps children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families find and receive the services needed to help them grow and develop like their typically developing peers. 

Brooke Johnson is a homemaker in north Texas and through social media she advocates for service dogs while teaching everyone she can about the importance of service dogs and the laws protecting them. Her goal is to travel with her service dog and help reduce access issues at the places she goes as well as show other handlers places that are knowledgeable on the laws and that are accommodating. As of February 1, 2023 Brooke and her service dog have reached 1,000 followers on TikTok and continue to grow. 

Danielle Johnson lives in Idaho and is a full time single mom. She likes to read, paint, draw, and go to the mall. One day she hopes to go back to school to be lawyer and dog trainer.

Kaitlyn Jones is an Agricultural Education graduate entering the Elementary Special Education teaching credential program at Fresno State (California State University, Fresno). She is a huge Disney enthusiast (even got engaged at Disney World!) and hopes to do the Disney College Program after graduation. She also loves Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and Gilmore Girls as well as hiking and spending time outside. She plays the sousaphone for the marching band and the euphonium for the concert band.

Karen Jones lives in Hawai’i and is currently working on getting certified as a medical coder so she can work from home with her disabilities. She was a care giver for developmentally disabled adults before becoming physically disabled. Researching and spreading awareness on developmental disabilities and other invisible disabilities is her one hobby and passion (besides training her puppy now!) as both she and her three children all have autism.

Janelle Kaufman teaches at a junior high school in Michigan. She has a teaching degree from Oakland University. Along with her two dogs, she raises mini donkeys, goats, chickens, and potbelly pigs. She enjoys reading books about dog training and behavior, as well as training her dogs. She also likes going to the beach, canoeing, and to various car races with her dogs. Her dream is to run a doggy daycare and training facility.

Kai Klaus is a 29 year old non-binary free spirit. They were a psychology major in college and their dream has always been to provide individuals in the LGBTQ family with affordable therapy. They are originally from New Mexico, but have travelled a lot before settling down in Michigan with their fiancée. Their hope is to one day have a place where they can help rescue needy cats and dogs.

Misty Knutson lives in central Florida and loves theme parks. She has grown children, some with spouses, and grandchildren. She owns a small business and volunteers once a week to teach Jr. High Drama. She does all of this while being supervised by her family. Her goal is to train her dog so she has more freedom, so they can work together for a better quality life while spreading awareness. 

Sophie Lawson attends Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She is an entrepreneurship major with plans to open her own service dog training organization when she graduates. She has always loved dog training ever since she was little and was attending Brittany field trials with her father. She resides on a small 14 acre horse farm in southern Maryland when she is not at school where she works with the family’s horse rescue that takes residence in one of the barns. Sophie worked for 3 years at a pet resort where she was trained in dog language and behavior and grooming basics and got her experience working along side trainers and many different types of dogs. She realized while working there that she wanted to do this full time. So now she is working towards opening her own training and breeding business to help those who need service dogs!

Reanna Ledbetter is 20 years old and lives in Alabama. She spends most of her time reading and training her dogs. She has a passion for animals in general and dogs in particular. She is working toward making a career in dog training.

Victoria Lee is a licensed mental health counselor in the state of New Hampshire. She owns and operates an intensive outpatient program for adolescents and is working with her dog to become a full-time facility trained therapy dog for the program. Victoria has loved dogs her whole life and has fostered and trained many dogs of different breeds over the past two decades. She aspires to help other counselors and clients find dogs to assist them in their healing and helping journeys, while helping dogs live their best, happiest lives, too! She dreams of opening her own Labrador breeding and training program for future comfort and psychiatric services dogs. She has three wonderful, lively young boys and a dedicated husband and work partner. They are a close knit family that enjoys spending time together, reading, learning, and exploring. They share their home and hearts with their three wonderful K9 companions.

Joshua Lewis lives in Ohio where he enjoys weight lifting and playing guitar. He holds a BA in Communication from Cleveland State University and an ABCDT from the Animal Behavior College. After working for several years in both the corporate and non-profit sectors, working with mentally ill adults with chemical addictions, he decided that becoming a professional dog trainer was the path for him so he turned his attention to learning, studying, volunteering at shelters, and gaining as much experience as he could. He founded his own company, Underdog Training Academy, in October 2021, and also completed a Basic Service Dog training course through the K9 Training Institute. He wants to continue to help make a difference in people’s lives, and also has a passion for working with rescue dogs. He wants to take the knowledge he learns at ELLAS Animals INC and turn rescue dogs into service dogs.

Jessica Lopez lives in Michigan and worked in the automotive industry before becoming a stay at home mom. She provided dealer support from the manufacturer to both Volkswagen and Fiat-Chrysler Group. She loves yoga, reading, and cooking. She’s a football fan when it comes to seeing her oldest son on the field. She spends a lot of time expanding her knowledge on behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, and life with autism.

Prissela Lopez is retired from the United States Air Force and currently lives in South Carolina where she is a stay at home mom while she homeschools her young sons. Her husband is retired from the United States Army and currently works as a mechanic. They share 3 children as well as many cats and dogs.

Zoya Malik splits her time between Massachusetts and New York when she’s not traveling. She works with businesses on employee  focused initiatives. Zoya is a serial hobbyists, and enjoys painting, reading, photography, traveling and exploring cultures. 

Christopher Malone, a native and resident of Syracuse, NY, is an ad agency copywriter, journalist and restaurant reviewer, recreational blogger, and improv performer, on his continual path toward being an author. When he’s not putting words down or telling spontaneous stories, he enjoys running, reading, and adventuring with his wife and dog. Christopher is looking forward to their dog becoming a service dog and therapy dog to help his wife out at work.

Katey Malone is a pediatric and adult home care occupational therapist who lives in Syracuse, NY. She also coaches triathlon athletes with the local YMCA and enjoys participating in the sport as well. When she’s not training or working, she is enjoying any outdoor activity she can with her dog and her husband. She is looking forward to her dog not only becoming a service dog, but a therapy dog as well to assist her patients with teaching their goals. Katey has a passion for helping people and looks forward to her dog being part of her therapy team.

Maya Matlack lives in Utah right near the beautiful mountains. She’s currently doing online school to become a graphic artist and designer. She loves to go on hikes and spend lots of time with her family.

Kelsey Mayer was born and raised in Evansville, IN. She studied at the University of Evansville and graduated in 2020 with degrees in Marketing, Management and Accounting. She works full time as a licensed CPA at Rhiney and Hancock CPA and Accounting firm. Outside of that job, she and her family help take care of their grandma who has dementia, which is another full time job, but she wouldn’t change it for the world. She is a sucker for any Disney movie, and they also try to visit the parks as often as they can.

Kyleigh Mayer was born and raised in Evansville, IN and is currently a college student at the University of Evansville studying Applied Exercise Science in hopes of being a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Outside of that she helps her family take care of her grandmother who has dementia. She absolutely loves spending time with family and friends and her family especially likes taking trips to Disney World. She has always wanted to work with kids and when she was little she actually looked into becoming a therapy dog trainer but never thought she could do it. Well, here she is living the dream. Dog training is like an escape from reality – just you and your best friend working towards an amazing goal.

Julie Mays is from Utah and just graduated high school as class of 2021. She is attending Utah State University in the fall where she will be earning her degree in Animal and Dairy Science. She loves taking care of her many pets and spending time with her friends.

Jenny McDaniel is a married, stay at home mom who takes care of her child who has epilepsy, autism, and learning disabilities. They reside in Georgia.

Katie McKnight lives in New York and has worked with kids for most of her life. Her most important role is mom of three sons. Over the years she has held positions in schools with children as young as preschool and as old as middle school. During that time, she has run after-school programs teaching dog safety, drama, and religion. In addition, she has trained dogs for more than a decade through Sublime K9 Dog Training. She is the co-owner of ISCDT Dog Trainer Program, which teaches and prepares new dog trainers to work professionally. Katie has worked with shelter dogs is also a Certified Dog Bite Prevention Educator.

Natalie Moore lives in Illinois where she and her grandmother take care of each other. Her hobbies are writing and reading. One day she hopes to start her own business to help teens have more life opportunities.

Aleicia Morehouse lives in central Indiana where she is a stay at home mom/chauffeur for her two autistic sons. As a family, they love to go camping and hiking or anything outdoors.
Hailey Nickels lives in Mississippi with her two dogs, an ESA and a service dog in training. She received a Bachelors of Fine Arts in the fall of 2020 and now works as an in house photographer for a local fine gun shop. She enjoys traveling and playing frisbee with her dogs.

Chelsea and Rebecca Niles live in the Knoxville, TN area. Chelsea was a nurse, but is currently disabled due to cancer.  Chelsea is home most of the time and spends a lot of time daily training a service dog and tending to her needs. Rebecca is an ICU nurse. In addition to their daughter, for whom they are training a service dog, they have two other children, who range in age from 4-17, so their family is busy with work, school, service dog training, and many activities and appointments from day to day. They are excited and hopeful that the service dog they are training will be able to provide the support necessary to make their daughter successful as she enters adulthood!

Michelle Ouellette lives in Alexandria, VA. From home each day, she works in healthcare communications, specifically clinical trial recruitment and advocacy. Michelle adopted a puppy in the pet shop window and that turned into the inspiration for what has become a decade of absolute dedication to rescue. She has fostered and coordinated many rescue pups with Cavalier Rescue USA. Michelle is really excited to learn, enhance her relationship with her dog, and help other Cavaliers and people living with anxiety disorders through ELLAS service training program.

Ellie Overman is a sophomore at Azusa Pacific University studying philosophy and theology. She was raised in Dallas and later moved to Southern California for school. Ellie loves to learn about social justice, the theology of disabilities, intersectionality, and queer theology. She frequents local coffee shops and enjoys writing and spending time in nature. 

Diane Paddock lives in Missouri and cares for a menagerie of fur babies. She loves to crochet and to snuggle with her animals. She enjoys walks and car drives with them as well. She has worked for the phone company for many years.

Breana Pane lives in Kentucky where she attends college, majoring in biochemistry and neuroscience. She plans to use this degree for a career in clinical chemistry working with cancer patients in the future.

Madison Parise is from Michigan. She works as a caregiver. Her hobbies include baking, painting, and playing tennis. One day she hopes to become a malpractice attorney.

Malikye Pireu is almost 24 years young and a trans man who lives in Ohio. He is into everything from art to music, and from dungeons and dragons to spades and gin. He enjoys the outdoors while hiking and fishing with his service dog, Alpha. He wants to live his life to the fullest and experience everything possible while helping as many people along the way as he can.

Amanda Plank has been a volunteer trainer/rehabilitator at several dog rescues over the last 20 years. She works as a graphic designer in Seattle, WA. During the dry season she loves hiking, biking, and spending time in the great outdoors. She also enjoys spending the colder/wetter months playing video games and hanging out with friends. 

Misha Racliff currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina, although she grew up in small-town Maine. She works remotely from home which has allowed her the privilege of spending extra time with her pups. She attended the University of Maine until 2014 and then recently began furthering her education through Southern New Hampshire University. She grew up with dogs, specifically Dalmatians, her entire life. She has grown to love the breed, their stamina, and their loyal personalities. She resides with her two rescued Dalmatians, one year old Fletcher and 5 year old Emma who was rescued from China. In her free time she enjoys going to see live music, spending time at the beach, day trips on the boat, and attending the many events that take place in Charleston. 

Lillian Rascoe lives in Massachusetts and volunteers at several rescue organizations helping to rehome hard to place dogs. She is a scientist at a pharmaceutical company and hopes to study drug abuse someday in the future.

Dan Raynor is one of our trainers and the owner of Stevens Puppets and he performs marionette shows for children around the world. He enjoys ‘80s music, dad jokes, and making his five children laugh. He grew up in California but now calls both Florida and Indiana home.

Jack Raynor is 14 years old and is homeschooled. He enjoys drawing, writing fiction, practicing guitar, and playing TTRPGs with his friends around the world online. Jack has lived in 7 states and 3 countries.

Zan Raynor is a Certified Dog Trainer. She is a wood carver, a painter, a writer, and a teacher. She enjoys roasting her own coffee, paddleboarding with her dog, and learning foreign languages. She splits her time between Florida, Indiana, and wherever the performance touring schedule takes her.

Kennady Reyes is 21 years old and currently in Physical Therapist Assistant School. She is set to graduate in May 2023, and take her national medical board exam in July of the same year. She has loved dogs since she was three years old, and now own three dogs. She has been training her dogs all along, however she did not take an interest in service dog training until her recent diagnosis of epilepsy. She is excited to train and get some of her freedom back. In her free time she love hiking, spending time with her husband, and having fun with her dogs.

Reagan Rose is 18 years old and lives in South Dakota. She was going to go to college for forensic psychology before she became sick and now she’s just focusing on her health and training her dog to help her get some independence back. Her passions are photography and traveling, and she loves spending time with friends and family. 

Cupid Ross is an autistic teen who has a special interest for all animals and learning about them! She loves cuddling with her puppy, playing video games, drawing, and going out. However, without help going out gets harder and harder, so she hopes to be able to go out and enjoy herself more with a service dog!

Noah Samson started training dogs at the ripe age of 14 with his own service dog and since then he has been pursuing training of all types of dogs, service dogs, hunting dogs, pets and working dogs. He is an AKC CGC evaluator and has worked with a number of different programs training service dogs. He aspires to make a full time career of dog training. He was born and raised in Ohio and will be attending university there as well. In his small amount of free time he plays video games, swims, draws and loves reading.

Mandie Sanderman lives in Iowa in a “dog paradise” of 10 acres that include a 1/2 acre pond for swimming, dock diving, and fun romps in the water.  Mandie works in education as a specialist in the area of science and provides professional learning for K-12 science educators.  In addition to her work in education, she also is a certified dog trainer.  Mandie’s dog training business, Precious Paws, also includes providing whelping services where she is responsible for delivering litters of puppies and providing those puppies with an amazing start in life to allow them to reach their full potential.  She is known for producing litters that excel in the areas of service work, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals.

Kayla Sayle is 24 years old and lives in Texas. Her ambition for life is to help anyone she can who struggles with invisible disabilities whether it be through finding a service animal or just talking through things. Her life revolves around helping others. She currently works at a hotel in West Texas – the only hotel in West Texas – and it gets really busy but the guests find a welcoming and listening ear waiting for them.

Estie Schmid has always had a love of animals and took her first obedience class at age 8. During the pandemic she learned all she could and started A New Beginning Dog Training LLC. For almost three years, she has offered group classes and private training in four counties in Washington state, from puppy classes to Canine Good Citizenship, nose work, and now branching out to learn service dog training. She has a personal connection in that both of her children, ages 5 and 7, are diagnosed with autism and will benefit greatly from having a service dog. At home Estie has a Saint Bernard, 2 golden retrievers, 1 German Shepherd, and her newest edition is a French Bulldog. 

Abigail Seidle (Abi) is 21 years old, New Jersey born and raised. She enjoys listening to music, singing, and looking at art. She’s a big fan of supporting local artists. She has aspirations to become a professional body piercer and maybe moving to Europe some day.

Gabriella Siebring (Bella) grew up traveling and spent most of her childhood splitting her time between Canada and Colorado. She loves dogs and is planning on making Service Dog training her career. In addition to training for ELLAS Animals INC, Gabby is taking college courses in animal psychology.

Brittany Segill is a 24 year old professional working in the environmental conservation and sustainability field. This past year, she received a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy. Along with the graduate program, she is a weekly volunteer at a Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehab facility. In her free time, Brittany loves to be outside, hike, read, craft, garden, and spend time with friends (including her cat and dog).

Erynn Simpson is originally from California and graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in psychology. She went on to earn her master’s in education and is currently a preschool teacher. She and her family live in Erie, Colorado. They boat at a reservoir in the summer and all snowboard/ski in the winter.  Erynn and her husband have two children who are 6 and 8 years old. They love being in Colorado and getting outside whenever they can. They also have two other dogs who are 3 and 14 years old. The 3 year old border collie and Bernese mountain mix is loving playing with a new puppy. 

Brooke Smith lives in Oklahoma and has a BS in Agri-Business with a minor Animal Science. She teaches Agriculture at a local school. She raises show cattle and her children show pigs and cattle. 

Cassie Smith has always wanted to be a dog trainer for underprivileged families who can’t afford service animals. She lives in Virginia and her hobbies include going out with friends to the mall to do some shopping and riding bikes, hiking, and going on adventures with her dog.

Melissa Stepina is a veteran florist who is now a Reiki healer and a stay-at-home mom taking care of a toddler and a teenager, both on the autism spectrum. She takes the boys on daily walks and since they live at the trailhead of some of the most scenic hikes in Arizona, she can often be found on the local trail.

Emma Stevenson has been a dog trainer for over a decade, and grew up training birds, dogs, hamsters, cats, and snakes. As an adult with a medical and mental disability, her educational goals became her primary focus and she’s now pursuing a master’s degree in Zoology and Public Health. Emma’s happiest when around a pack of dogs, and can usually be found out and about with her clients and her pack where she resides in California.

Madysen Strykowski has loved dogs as long as she can remember. She is currently studying psychology in Indiana and works at a dog boarding facility. The best part of her job is getting to see so many different dogs every day. She enjoys sewing and did gymnastics for 16 years.

Mike Szyller lives in Michigan and is a butcher in the famous Eastern Market. Mike’s true passions are his children and automotive performance. He enjoys everything involved with going fast on two or four wheels. 

Rachelle Thompson, a stay-at-home mom, is part of a training team which includes her husband, Doug Thompson, an electrical engineer, and their non-binary teen, Rain. They are training their rescued goldendoodle to be a companion to Rain, who is on the autism spectrum. The Thompson household is always busy with 2 dogs and 3 kids at home (plus 2 adult kids living in Texas and Florida). They love playing games of all kinds and enjoying the great outdoors in the amazing year-round weather under New Mexico’s gorgeous, sprawling skies.

Samuelle Valade is a 25 year old art student living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is also a member of the art collective Aussenwelt, where she exhibits her paintings and sculptures. In her free time, her favorite activities are climbing, hiking, and going out to the many great restaurants her city is famous for. 

Ash Vargas is a non-binary individual who uses any pronouns who lives in Texas. They love all animals and have a special fondness for snakes and cows in particular. Ash has previous experience working at the Humane Society and enjoyed getting to work with and train the dogs there. They are excited for their next adventure in training service dogs.

Maegen Wagner is a biology teacher and a mother of two children. She lives in Pennsylvania and loves to travel. She enjoys crafting, sewing and machine embroidery, as well as hiking, kayaking, and white water rafting. In the future, she hopes to train more service dogs for others since there’s such a high demand and not enough trained dogs.

Molly Walters is a 20 year old college student at MTSU, who currently has not figured out the best route she needs to take. She started training her dog and everything seemed to fall into place. She likes baking, sewing, school, and dogs (probably dogs more). She hopes to train her own dog and then train many more in the future.

Marin Wasinger is originally from Denver, and is currently in her second year of college at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She’s studying criminal justice and loves drawing and spending time with her pets! 

Kayla Watson is a 22 year old college student studying to become a registered nurse. Kayla lives in Georgia. She enjoys going to Disney World, spending time with family and friends, and loving on her animals. She is excited to develop the special bond between dog and handler by training her dog as a task trained service dog.

Emily Witkin is an autistic adult living in California. She lives independently, and works part time as a tutor. She enjoys arts and crafts, gardening, and playing games on her iPad. Although she already lives independently, she hopes a service dog will help her participate more successfully and independently in her community.

Chase Wolfe is a college student studying sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute. He is planning to be a studio artist after graduation. His hobbies include hiking and foraging, as well as just about any craft he can get his hands on. 

Naomi Wong is a Florida local, born and raised. She studied Theater at Miami-Dade College and FAU. She currently works as a CX Manager but hopes to one expand into design and marketing.

Joy Woodruff has had a long history of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and multiple joint replacements. She is training a service dog for “balance” since she has a tendency to lose her balance and fall. 

Christina Wright is a Loudoun County, VA native but now lives in Montgomery County, Maryland.  She is currently a stay at home mom pursuing a career as a Professional Horticulturist and Landscape Designer.  Growing up in horse country, she was a member of the local Pony Club with her now 22 year old Off Track Thoroughbred.  She has always had a passion for helping/working with animals and had jobs growing up working on farms, at vet clinics, and was a professional dog groomer for 7 years.  She loves being outdoors and spending time with her family.  She enjoys staying fit and healthy.  In the near future, she would love to own a large farm that would be a sanctuary for dogs with Megaesophagus and other large animals.  

Lauren Zimmer is 24 years old and has autism, which is why she benefits from having a service dog. She has a certificate in dog training from Penn Foster Career School and recently started school at Unity College to work towards her degree in animal health and behavior. She works at the Wisconsin Humane Society as a foster specialist and also does parrot rescue in her free time. In the future, she would like to work with people with autism or psychiatric disabilities and help them train their own service dogs.

Arielle Zupmore is 30 years old and lives in Michigan. She’s an attorney at a civil litigation insurance defense firm and her main hobby is advocating for and rescuing animals. She volunteers and fosters for several shelters and rescues in metro Detroit. She loves going on adventures from road trips to swimming and hikes with her dog.

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