Southeastern Animal 
Control Association

 Animal Control Training Conference 

Dr. Melinda Merck

Dr. Melinda Merck is the owner of Veterinary Forensics Consulting in Austin, Texas, and a Law Enforcement Trainer with the Humane Society of the United States. Her background includes private practice, shelter medicine and disaster response. Dr. Merck is the learning facilitator of the AAHA Forensic Process for Veterinarians and course coordinator for the VetFolio Veterinary Forensics online certificate courses. She is the Program Chair for NAVC VMX Veterinary Forensics: Animal CSI program. She was the founding chair of the Board of Directors for the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association and served as Co-Chair for the WSAVA Animal Wellness and Welfare Committee. 

Dr. Merck is the editor and contributing author of the textbook, “Veterinary Forensics: Animal Cruelty Investigation, 2nd edition” by Wiley publishing, and a contributing author of other textbooks on the subject veterinary forensics and animal cruelty investigations including Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff. She developed the first Veterinary Forensics course for University of Georgia and Florida veterinary schools and frequently lectures at other veterinary, technician and law colleges. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Science and member of the International Association of Blood Stain Analysts. Dr. Merck serves on the Association of Prosecuting Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Advisory Council and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Committee. Locally, Dr. Merck volunteers with SAFE, the Austin shelter for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.




Erin Aiello

Erin Aiello is an assistant district attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a Law Enforcement Trainer for the Humane Society of the United States. During her twelve year career, Erin has worked for three district attorney offices and has had the opportunity to serve both urban and rural communities. Officially, her primary caseload is and has been the prosecution of abuse related crimes such as child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Unofficially, Erin has been her own one-person animal cruelty unit in every office she has joined. In 2011, Erin was recognized by the Animal Control Association of Massachusetts for her work on animal cruelty cases. Even in private practice, Erin was devoted to animal cruelty welfare and was proud to serve as local counsel for a national animal welfare organization in one of the largest animal cruelty and seizure cases in New England. Currently, Erin works in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit in the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, where she focuses primarily on the prosecution of high risk domestic violence offenders. Erin lives in western Massachusetts with her 16 year old diva of a cat, Lulu Aiello.



Mike Perkins


Mike Perkins began in animal welfare in 1996 as a volunteer at a local shelter in St. Louis, Mo.  As a police officer, he was a K9 handler for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and spent the last 5 years of his law enforcement career as their head trainer.

After 23 years in law enforcement, he was the director of the Animal Cruelty Task Force and Disaster Response for the Humane Society of Missouri for 7 years.  In March 2018, he moved to Georgia and has started the Cruelty Investigation Division, part of the Animal Protection Unit for the Atlanta Humane Society.

Mike is also a Master Trainer for the North American Police Work Dog Association and works with several police K9 units throughout Georgia and the United States in the areas of Utility and Narcotics Detection.



Rob Leinberger

Serving in the field of animal care & control for more than three decades, Rob started as a veterinary assistant during high school. He became an Animal Control Officer for Chesterfield County in December of 1991.

Rob achieved an Associate’s Degree in Police Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management. In 2011, he completed a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management at the University of Richmond.

In October 2009, he was elected to the board of directors for the Virginia Animal Control Association and is the past President. Rob served on the board of directors for the National Animal Care & Control Association from 2012 – 2019, holding the position as President and Vice President.

He teaches an animal control basic course for new animal control officers and police officers in the region and at the State level academy. His vast knowledge of animal care & control allows for him to offer one-on-one support and mentoring.

Rob has two children, a dog, a cockatiel, a bearded dragon, a red-footed tortoise and an amazing girlfriend. Rob joined Richmond Animal Care & Control in January 2016 and is the Program & Operations Supervisor. He spends his spare time scouting out donut shops.