Erin Purgason


Erin Purgason is the founder of Highland Canine Training, LLC, a diverse dog training and industry leading, canine education business.  Erin spent her childhood growing up around hunting dogs in addition to having a variety of pets including dogs.  As the owner of a multi-faceted business, she strives to ensure that each division of the business furthers the mission of Highland Canine Training, LLC and exceeds the expectations of our clients.

Our accountability to dogs and unwavering support of their human counterparts is what sets up apart from the industry.

She graduated in 2001 from Appalachian State University with a BS in Criminal Justice and a minor in sociology.

Erin served as a sworn law enforcement officer in North Carolina for more than 15 years. During her career as a law enforcement officer, Erin has worked in conjunction with agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and also served on several multi jurisdictional task forces. Her focus was on criminal interdiction, specializing in illegal drug interdiction and she worked for a number of years in an undercover capacity. She assisted in a number of OCDETF cases resulting in the dismantling of large scale drug smuggling operations. While serving at the Reidsville Police Department, she was presented an Award of Merit, for saving a disabled individual from his burning home.

Erin grew up around dogs and has worked with them all her life. She has trained a variety of dogs in a professional capacity for over twenty years. Erin directs our obedience and behavior modification training programs at our facility in Harmony, NC. Erin also coordinates and works hand-in-hand with local rescue groups and shelters to assists dogs in need through our Second Chance Program. As an instructor at our School for Dog Trainers, Erin shares her knowledge and experience with our students, teaching them proper training fundamentals and behavior modification technique as well as the proper care of our canine companions.

Erin has a passion for dogs and for helping people.  Her enthusiasm for her work is seen by every client.

For years, Erin handled a scent discrimination trailing Bloodhound that was often called on to find missing persons. She worked alongside local and Federal agencies with her Bloodhound, Georgia, to help recover those missing persons. Erin also serves as a handler of a narcotics detection dog to search schools, businesses and other locations through our commercial detection dog services and she also assists with the training of dogs for Police K9 functions, detection and search and rescue work. She shares her experience in criminal and drug interdiction while assisting in the training of Police K9 Handlers.

Erin also oversees and manages our Service Dog Program and assists with training service dogs and working with their new families. Not only is she involved in caring for and training service dogs in our program, her experience and expertise is vital in the development of the puppies that come through our program. Along with training service dogs, Erin also works with helping families choose the right breed and dog to fit their individual needs. She regularly delivers dogs to families across the country and works with them in their communities to ensure that they understand how to properly maintain the training of their new service dog for life.

Erin has worked with animals in clinical settings since 1995 and currently works at Iredell Companion Animal Hospital in Statesville, NC as a Veterinary Technician where she has been for more than 20 years. This knowledge and experience is vital to the overall health and well-being of dogs in our various programs. Erin oversees the care and nutrition of all of the dogs in training at our facility and also shares this knowledge with our clients. She also regularly teaches the canine care and canine first aid classes at our School for Dog Trainers.

Erin is a former member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and CPDT-KA. She is a current member of the International Association of Canine Professionals.

Contact Erin at

Professional Memberships

Erin is a Professional Member of the International Association of Canine Professionals.  Member #10982

Philanthropic Efforts

erin Purgason Highland Canine Connect

In 2018, Erin founded Highland Canine Connect, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit with the mission of:

Transforming lives through the power of canine connections. We conduct innovative research, provide essential education and create partnerships to serve both the canine community and people.

Since, she has brought together a remarkable team of people who work to further the mission of the organization. 

Interviews & Podcasts

Highland Canine Connect announces plans for annual cornhole tournament and festival
August 2023

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Two Service Dogs Made Available for Area Veterans
September 2020

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Episode 102 – Erin Purgason
July 2020

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Trained to Serve:  Company sponsors service dogs for local veterans
June 2020

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Woman training in Harmony to improve Puerto Rico’s treatment of animals
September 2010

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Read articles by Erin Purgason

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Therapy Dogs: What You Need To Know

Therapy dogs provide benefits to several areas of society. In this article, we outline the uses and benefits of therapy dogs – and help you to determine if your own dog could be a good fit for therapy work.

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