Sammie joins us from Erie, PA and has always had a passion for dogs. Due to allergies in her family, she could never own a dog growing up – but that did not stop Sammie from pursuing her dreams. She turned to knocking on all her neighbor’s doors, asking if she could walk their dogs.
Her love for animals continued throughout her life – Sammie attended Franklin & Marshall College and earned a degree in Animal Behavior. During this time, she was given the opportunity to lead husbandry for Capuchin monkeys. Sammie absolutely adored them, and it grew her interest in working with wildlife.
Sammie has extensive experience conducting research related to animals. She worked as a chimpanzee health data analyst for the Jane Goodall Institute. She also worked as a field researcher for the Mahouts Elephant Foundation, conducting studies of re-wilded Asian elephants in Thailand. Sammie’s education also included Wildlife Conservation courses at the School for Field Studies in Tanzania. There, she studied the ecology and behavior of common African large mammals.
While studying in Tanzania, Sammie was introduced to an anti-poaching canine unit that trained dogs to sniff out ivory, as well as certain ammunition that poachers use to hunt elephants and rhinos. This is when she knew dog training was the career for her, because she could combine her passion for both dogs and wildlife conservation.
To learn the skills necessary to train these specialized dogs, Sammie attended the Master Dog Trainer Program at the School for Dog Trainers. In the program, she not only learned about detection, but also how to train service dogs and help people in need. She finished top of her class with honors and completed an internship with the service dog division at Highland Canine’s Harmony, NC location. This experience provided her with the opportunity to train hearing, mobility, seizure, and autism assistance dogs. Shortly after, she moved into a full-time role as Director of Service Dog Training.
When she’s not training service dogs, you can find Sammie on top of a mountain, at the beach, or out in the field training a conservation detection dog. She lives a life full of adventure – she loves hiking, kayaking, dancing, and jet-setting to the next country on her bucket list.