Current Veterinary Technician Specialists in Behavior
Linda M. Campbell, RVT, CPDT-KA, VTS (Behavior)
Linda graduated from Jefferson College in 1990 with an Applied Associate of Science degree in veterinary technology and became a registered veterinary technician the same year. She has been employed by the Humane Society of Missouri since 1975, working in the animal shelter, veterinary medical center and administration. Linda also worked part-time for fifteen years at The St. Louis Animal Emergency Clinic gaining invaluable experience in emergency medicine. After learning about the correlation between problem behaviors and animal surrenders, Linda selected behavior as the focus of her efforts. Currently Linda serves as Shelter Animal Behavior Manager for all three Humane Society adoption center locations. There she focuses on shelter animal enrichment, staff and volunteer education, and shelter dog training (Train-to-Adopt program). She writes monthly columns for E-Tails, the Humane Society’s Monthly e-mail newsletter.
Over the years, Linda has assisted in a variety of disaster-related missions (Oklahoma City tornadoes in 1999, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, emergency animal cooling center in summer of 2006, warming center in winter of 2006, Missouri floods in 2007) as well as numerous rescues of animal from abusive/neglected situations. In 2009 Linda and her department worked with an ASPCA behavior team and Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB to evaluate behavioral responses of over 500 pit bulls housed under Humane Society of Missouri care that had been confiscated in an FBI dog-fighting bust. This case still stands as one of the largest number of fighting dogs housed at one location.
She currently is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed. Linda is a member of the Greater St. Louis Training Club, Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a founding member of the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians.
She has lectured on training and animal behavior at various national, state and local veterinary and animal welfare conferences. Linda also speaks annually to veterinary technician and veterinary assistant students at Jefferson College.
Linda lives in the St. Louis area with her husband, Marty, son Nick, and a menagerie of dogs, cats and birds.
Amanda Eick, RVT, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, VTS (Behavior)
Amanda Eick-Miller is the veterinary behavior technician and practice manager of The Behavior Clinic in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Over the last 18 years Amanda has worked general practice, taught in veterinary technology programs and ran her own animal training & behavior business, Pawsitively Pets, LLC. Along the way she also earned her CPDT-KA, was an active SVBT board member, and became a Karen Pryor Certified Training Partner. When she’s not working with patients at the clinic or lecturing to veterinary technicians, Amanda can be found hiking, field trailing or just hanging out with her German Shorthaired Pointer, Brego.
Monique Feyrecilde LVT, VTS (Behavior)
Since 1997, Monique Feyrecilde has been a team member at Mercer Island Veterinary Clinic in Mercer Island, Washington. In 1999, she began serving as clinic manager, and was credentialed as a technician in 2002. Monique currently manages the clinic and serves as head technician. Realizing more pets become homeless and are euthanized for unwanted behaviors than any disease, Monique spearheaded implementation of behavior protocols within her clinic.
Monique’s consulting and training business is called Teaching Animals, established in 1999. She provides private behavior consultations as well as group classes and community education.
Aside from her duties as a technician, manager, instructor and consultant, Monique enjoys presenting and lecturing at CE events, reading, singing, spending time at the beach, and training her own pets. She has lectured at numerous conferences including NAVC, WVC, AVSAB/ACVB, AVMA, PacVet, ACVC, WSVMA, and more. Her particular areas of interest include compassionate animal handling, behavioral medicine for the general practice team, cooperative veterinary care and husbandry, learning theory, behavior modification, and human-animal bond. She has served on the board of directors of SVBT and the board of regents of AVBT. Monique was also named 2015 Veterinary Technician of the Year for the US and Canada by PetPlan Pet Insurance.
Sharing her home with 3 dogs, 1 cat, an African grey parrot and her wonderful husband, Monique enjoys competing with her own dogs in agility and sheepdog events.
Jenn Fiendish, CVT, VTS (Behavior)
In 1992 Jenn turned her lifelong love of animals into a career. Since then she has enjoyed many roles throughout veterinary medicine including general practice, emergency medicine, and teaching. Jenn has always had a special interest in behavior and is passionate about using her knowledge to educate the public in ways to peacefully and thoughtfully communicate better with and understand animals. In July of 2012 she gladly accepted an invitation to join the Animal Behavior Clinic as a veterinary behavior technician. A position that has allowed her the opportunity to expand her knowledge base, educate more people, and help more animals.
As member of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, Jenn serves on the Continuing Education Committee as the 2015 Chairperson and has been the SVBT Oregon state representative since 2011.
In her free time, Jenn performs with The BlackPearl Friesian Dance Troupe (a non profit educational, equine performance, and philanthropic group) and is an avid crafter and crocheter. Her ‘pack’ includes three hairless dogs, an old grey horse, a snake, and one very patient husband.
Kait Hembree, BS, LVT, KPA CTP, VTS (Behavior)
Kait has been working in the veterinary medicine field for over 15 years. After graduating from Montana State University with a BS in Biology and a BS in Animal Science in 2000, she directed her attention towards small animal medicine and care, and began working as an assistant veterinary technician. In 2005, after successful completion of the VTNE she became a CVT for the state of Montana. She soon began focusing her interests on behavior in small animals both in and out of the veterinary environment. In addition she volunteered with the local animal shelter ultimately becoming one of the original founders for the Heart of the Valley Humane Society in Bozeman, MT and was responsible for creating their first Behavioral Assessment and Modification Program.
Over time Kait expanded her efforts with animal behavior to include dog training, special needs pet-sitting and puppy socialization classes. In 2009, Kait began pursuing her Veterinary Technician Specialty-Behavior. As part of that pursuit, Kait attended the 2010 and 2011 Animal Behavior Conference; joined the Karen Pryor Dog academy graduating in September 2011 as a certified training partner; and became an active board member with SVBT as their Recording Secretary (2011-2015). In 2011, Kait elected to move from Bozeman, MT to Reno, NV to work as the Lead Veterinary Technician for a newly founded hospital where she taught continuing education to the staff; offered individual instruction for clients/patients and problem prevention counseling; and assisted the hospital director with behavior consultations.
In 2012, Kait’s moved from Reno, NV to West Palm Beach, FL to work as a veterinary behavior nurse for Florida Veterinary Behavior Service. In addition, Kait began lecturing locally. After discovering how much she enjoyed it, she began teaching as an Adjunct Instructor for the Veterinary Technology program at Sanford Brown College in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Kait received her VTS-Behavior in July 2014.
Kait’s passion for behavior has moved her across the country finally landing her in the small town of Franklin, NC where she is currently working with Noah’s Ark Companion Animal Hospital as their Assistant Hospital Manager. Within this role, she serves as the hospital behavioral counselor and training director offering individual instruction, puppy socialization classes, group classes, problem prevention counseling and continuing education to staff on low stress handling and restraint techniques.
Alicea Howell RVT, KPA CTP, CPDT-KA, VTS (Behavior)
Alicea Schaffer graduated from Purdue University with her Bachelor degree in Veterinary Technology, in 2003. She received her Certified Pet Dog Trainer in November, 2006 and graduated the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior in November, 2008. Alicea works as a behavior technician in a small animal and exotic practice in Franklin, IN where she has taught puppy kindergarten, clicker training and behavior modification for 8 years. She has lectured to veterinary technicians at state, regional and national conferences. She also has published articles in Veterinary Technician Magazine, Good Bird INC, and Healthy pet. Alicea is on the board of the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians and the president of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians.
Alicea lives in Franklin, IN with her Jack Russell Terrier and two retired greyhounds. She loves to Hike, camp, surf and practice yoga in her spare time.
Rachel Lees, RVT, KPA-CPT, VTS (Behavior)
Rachel Lees, one of the newest Registered Veterinary Technician Specialists in Behavior in 2016, is also a Certified Training Partner through Karen Pryor Dog Trainer Professional Academy. She currently lives in Parma, Ohio and is one of the veterinary behavior technicians at The Behavior Clinic. Her interest in animal behavior sparked when her parents purchased a “bargain” Newfoundland in the fall of 2006. Yogi was a very nervous and fearful puppy at 8 weeks of age who had many behavioral diagnoses of his own. Working through puppy socialization and behavioral therapy with Yogi made Rachel want to help other families that may have the same issues!
Rachel graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in May of 2009 with her Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology. Immediately after graduation, Rachel was employed at a multi doctor practice located in Parma, Ohio. Here was where she began running puppy socialization classes, seeing private training appointments, and teaching basic obedience. Rachel also became the behavior advocate of her veterinary hospital conducting happy visits and working with all the veterinary related aggression cases in the clinic. In June of 2013, Rachel resigned from her position at her general practice and accepted her current position at The Behavior Clinic in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. In April of 2014, she had graduated and became a Certified Training Partner with Karen Pryor Academy.
Rachel is ecstatic to be a VTS-Behavior and looks forward in continuing to aide owners in creating and maintaining a strong human animal bond. Rachel holds a special interest in puppy/kitten socialization and development and enjoys teaching cooperative care techniques for veterinary protocols to small animals.
In her personal time, Rachel enjoys spending time with her Miniature Pincher Mix, Connor and her Orange Tabby Cat, Ernie.
Debbie Martin, BS, RVT, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP, VTS (Behavior)
Debbie has a B.S. from The Ohio State University in human ecology, and an associate of applied science degree in veterinary technology from Columbus State Community College. She has been a full time registered veterinary technician since 1996 and has been actively involved in the field of animal behavior. Since 2005 Debbie has been the Animal Behavior Technician for Veterinary Behavior Consultations, a mobile veterinary clinic with practice limited to animal behavior. She is an active member and the previous recording secretary for SVBT (The Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians) and is a member of APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers). Debbie is also a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP). In November 2009 she became a faculty member for the Karen Pryor Academy Dog Training Program. Debbie and Dr. Kenneth Martin teach a small animal behavior course for veterinary and veterinary technician students at Louisiana State University every year. She has lectured on animal behavior and training at numerous local and national veterinary conferences. In 2009 Debbie and Dr. Martin co-authored a 200 page book on puppy socialization and training titled, Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog. Debbie has always had a strong interest in prevention of behavior problems and early socialization classes. In 2012 Debbie and Dr. Martin released an online course through Karen Pryor Academy titled, Puppy Start Right Instructors Course. The course prepares the veterinary staff or dog trainer to teach an in-depth puppy socialization class.
Debbie and her husband, Ken, share their home with 3 Belgian Malinois and a Beagle-terrier mix. Debbie has begun competing in agility with her youngest Malinois and has quickly become an agility fanatic and wishes she had more time to devote to the sport.
Ginny Price, MS, CVT, VTS (Behavior)
Ginny Price graduated from Saint Petersburg Junior College, Veterinary Technology Program, in 1981 and became certified the same year. She worked at a small animal practice from 1981-1999 and began teaching the Small Animal Breeds and Behavior Laboratory at SPJC (Saint Petersburg Junior College, which is now Saint Petersburg College) in 1995. In May of 2000 she attended the five-day lecture and practicum class at Purdue University, DOGS 2000!.
Ginny was an animal behavior laboratory research assistant at the University of South Florida from 2001-2006 where she also earned her BA in psychology. She earned her Masters degree in General Psychology at Walden University in 2007.
From 2002 – 2005, Ginny worked at Main Street Animal Hospital, a progressive, bond centered small animal practice in Dunedin, Florida. She continues to teach small animal behavior as well as various other courses at Saint Petersburg College, Veterinary Technology Program. Advanced Veterinary Behavior was developed by Terry Curtis, DVM, DACVB and Ginny for the BAS program.
Ginny has given lectures on animal behavior for various local, state, and national veterinary conferences.
She is a member of FVTA (Florida Veterinary Technician Association), AVTE (Association of Veterinary Technician Educators), AALAS (American Association for Laboratory Animal Science), and NAVTA (North American Veterinary Technician Association). She is a founding member and past president of SVBT (The Society of Veterinary Behavior) and a founding member of AVBT (The Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians).
Shanna Rayburn, BS, RVT. KPA-CTP, VTS (Behavior)
Shanna Rayburn graduated from Purdue University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Veterinary Technology. After graduation she worked in the Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital as a rotating technician in the departments of Behavior, the Intensive Care Unit, the Emergency Center, and the Large Animal Hospital. In January 2013 she started at VCA Berwyn Animal Hospital as the Behavior Technician working with Dr. Sara Bennett, DVM, MS, DACVB. In this position Shanna was able to work closely with both clients as well as the staff implementing changes to increase the human animal bond and decreasing the stress of the hospital environment.
She is experienced working with different types of behavioral problems and disorders in dogs and cats and has experience in implementing individualized behavior modification plans as well as teaching owners to apply these techniques at home. Shanna has completed the Animal Trainer Course through the Karen Pryor Academy. Karen Pryor Academy is a solely positive reinforcement based training program that not only focuses on how well the participants can train animals but how well they can teach others to work with their own pets. This program also has helped prepare her for the numerous lectures and hand on workshops that Shanna has helped instruct. Subjects ranged from recognizing the fearful dog or cat and proper handling during the veterinary exam for veterinary staff members, to implementing safe and humane protocols for shelter workers.
Shelter medicine has always been a passion for Shanna. Teaching shelter dogs and cats behaviors to increase the likelihood of adoption started in college during the veterinary technician behavior course. This has continued through her professional career working closely with shelter organizations to improve the behavioral health of the animals in their care.
Currently Shanna works at Horizon Veterinary Service, Inc. close to her hometown in Indiana. She is enjoying working closely with clients and teaching puppy and adult dog classes.
Marcia Rafter Ritchie, LVT, CPDT-KA, VTS (Behavior)
Marcia Rafter Ritchie graduated from SUNY Delhi with an AAS in Veterinary Science in 1977. She worked in private veterinary practices for 20 years where her passion for animal behavior was cultivated by the veterinarians she worked with.
Marcia has been an obedience and conformation dog show competitor since 1979 and is an occasional breeder of Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
She has been a professional pet obedience instructor since 1984 and was in the first group of 120 instructors to receive national certification through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), of which she is a charter member. A past board member of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, she is currently serving on several committees. She is a member of the organizing committee of the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, which recently was granted specialty status by National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA).
Marcia is one of the co-authors of SVBT’s “Building the Veterinary Behavior Team” manual. Her behavior articles have been published in both the SVBT newsletter and the Veterinary Technician magazine as well as local publications.
Marcia is the Director of Training and Behavior for “The Family Companion”. She now supervises a training staff of 6 instructors who teach pet obedience classes in 5 different locations in the Buffalo New York area. Marcia teaches group classes, private instruction, assists veterinarians with behavior modification and does pet selection counseling. She is a consultant for the Erie County SPCA and a volunteer 4-H leader in the dog program.
In addition to her passion for dogs, Marcia is an avid gardener who custom grows heirloom vegetables, herbs and edible blossoms for area restaurants.
Julie K. Shaw, RVT, KPA-CTP, VTS (Behavior)
Julie Shaw obtained her degree in Veterinary Technology in 1983 from Purdue University. She worked in private practice for 16 years and owned her own dog training company utilizing clicker training methods.
Julie was the animal behavior technologist at the Purdue Animal Behavior Clinic from 1999-2012 with Andrew Luescher, DVM, PhD, DACVB, ECVBM-CA. While there her responsibilities included organizing and assisting in teaching the five-day DOGS Behavior Modification course, teaching courses in behavior modification to veterinary and veterinary technician students, and instructing continuing education seminars for veterinary technicians, veterinarians, and trainers. She also assisted Dr. Luescher during referral behavior consultations, taught puppy classes, clicker training classes and did pet-selection counseling.
Julie is a charter member and past-president of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. She is a charter member and past President of the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technician. She is a retired Karen Pryor Academy faculty member. Julie has taught and trained 1000’s of veterinary professionals and animal trainers throughout the world. She is a contributing author and co-editor of Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses published by Wiley Publishing.
Ms. Shaw is a popular national and international speaker on problem prevention, practical application of behavior modification techniques and other companion animal behavior related topics. She was the recipient of the North American Veterinary Conference 2006 Veterinary Technician Speaker of the Year Award and was named the 2007 NAVC Mara Memorial Lecturer of the year for her accomplishments and leadership in the veterinary technician profession.
Julie is currently co-owner of TEAM Education in Animal Behavior and owner of Stepping Stone Animal Training and Behavior Modification and trains autism service dogs in her ‘spare’ time.
Melissa Spooner, LVT, BS, KPA-CTP, VTS (Behavior)
Melissa Spooner has been involved with caring for and training animals since 1997. Her career history includes various animal-handling positions such as training assistant, veterinary assistant, and many more. After working in the animal-handling area for several years, it was clear to Melissa where her next move should lead her. After graduating from Bel-Rea Institute in 2002, Melissa worked at a local general medicine veterinary practice, where her passion for animal behavior resurfaced. In 2004, Melissa joined Oakland Veterinary Referral Services as the sole technician in the behavior department. While working at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services (OVRS) a veterinary specialty hospital located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Melissa also graduated from Baker College with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration.
Today, Melissa continues in the behavior department at OVRS; under the direction of Theresa DePorter, DVM, MRCVS, dip ECVBM-CA. Melissa assists Dr. DePorter with canine and feline patients experiencing a variety of behavior problems. Her position as a behavior technician allows her to consult with other veterinary personnel and to contribute to making veterinary visits as pleasant and positive as possible for all patients. These efforts include minimizing fear and implementing low-stress handling techniques. By focusing on positive reinforcement techniques in the hospital, Melissa achieves a positive experience not just for the patient, but also for the human client. Melissa has been an active member of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians (SVBT) since 2004. She held a member-at-large position previously and is currently on the Public Relations Committee. In 2012 Melissa became a Certified Training Partner with Karen Pryor Academy (KPA-CTP) and a Veterinary Technician Specialist ( VTS Behavior) by the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. Melissa enjoys sharing her knowledge and education by lecturing for veterinary professionals and trainers on animal behavior topics. Melissa has published several articles in veterinary journals. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with her darling Dachshunds Deacon and Daphne.
Sherrie Yuschak, RVT, KPA-CTP, VTS (Behavior)
My behavior experience initiated from a desire to rectify my own dogs’ behavior problems 14 years ago. With help from a CAAB, a dog trainer and my veterinarian I learned firsthand how to desensitize, counter-condition, and train behaviors using positive reinforcement techniques. These methods achieved success for my dog which prompted me to abandon my traditional force-based ideology to begin a personal quest of education regarding the advantages of reinforcement training methods.
I was employed as an associate instructor for five years at a dog training center where I taught beginner to advanced students. Along the way, I studied many behavior books, attended numerous prominent behavior lectures including Purdue University’s DOGS! and Dogs and Cats course where my skills were strengthened and my philosophy solidified. I also travelled to the University of California, Davis for an internship within their animal behavior department.
At the small animal hospital where I was employed I researched, created, and instructed socialization and training classes for dogs and cats for five years. Additionally, I assisted two veterinarians with behavior consultations, performed behavior modification, pre-purchase counseling, problem prevention counseling, and educational services for clients.
I have been a long term member of The Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians and I am currently President Elect. I also Chair their Public Relations Committee and have served as the Sponsorship Coordinator of SVBT’s Continuous Education Conference for 2010 and 2011.
Earning my VTS in Behavior has been a long term goal since before the specialty was even finalized. I have planned and worked hard to achieve this status and consider it an honor to now be a member of the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. As I move forward with my career I intend to uphold the values of the Academy, the Society and contribute to the profession of Veterinary Technology with the common goal of strengthening the human-animal bond.
Donna Dyer, LVT, Honorary VTS (Behavior)
Donna is a graduate of Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology in Denver, Colorado and is licensed to practice as a veterinary technician in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Donna’s interest in animal behavior developed while studying indigenous wildlife in East Africa as part of her zoology curriculum at The Ohio State University, leading to several years as a volunteer keeper and docent at the Denver Zoo. For the last 16 years, she has focused her efforts on companion animal behavior. Her experience is varied and includes developing and implementing training programs for dog owners and veterinary professionals; working as a research assistant on several canine behavioral genetics projects at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry; serving as editor for a scientific working group tasked with establishing consensus-based best practices for the use of canine/handler detection teams and setting standards for their certification; serving as the first editorial assistant for the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research; co-authoring more than 10 peer-reviewed publications and owning and operating a home-based editing business. In addition to running her editing business, Donne currently is training people to implement a large government- run program. Donna has served for ten years on VMAT2 as part of the National Disaster Medical System. She is also on the National Veterinary Response Team 2, formed after Hurricane Katrina. Donna is a co-founder and past president of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians.