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Orange Beach, AL   

Sept 13 thru Sept 15

Mountain Ridge

2023 Class Agenda

 Mike Perkins: More than a “Dog Catcher”
racy Reis: Disaster Planning and Shelters
Dr. Nancy Wesselink- *Virtual* Mental Health for First Responders
Best Frien
ds- Jessica Krueger – Shelter Best Practices for Lifesaving
Best Friends- Nick 
Walton- Community Engagement and De-Escalation.

Dustin Dutton – “Ethics”
Q&A with Board Members and Speakers- This will be an open forum and all speakers/board members will be available for Q&A, intros and advice.

Mindy Gilbert- HSUS AL- “Tabletop” Shelter/field problem solving and resolutions.
Chris Schindler- “Dangerous Dog Investigations”

Haley Brown- “Budgeting and Field Staffing Needs”
Jessica Stone- “Rescues and Open Admission Shelters”

Katrina Amaro: “Veterinarians and Shelters- Vital Partnerships”

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MIKE PERKINS - Atlanta Humane  Cruelty Investigation Division

Mike Perkins is the director of the Cruelty Investigation Division for the Atlanta Humane Society. He consults and assists law enforcement and animal control in addressing calls regarding animal abuse and neglect throughout Georgia. He also assists in educating law enforcement, animal control, veterinarians, vet techs, prosecutors and judges on cases involving animal abuse.


Mike is a former police officer, canine handler, and trainer, who retired from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department after a 23-year career. Mike is also a Master Trainer for the North American Police Work Dog Association, where he regularly trains and certifies K9 teams from across the United States. He was the past director for the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Task Force supervising animal investigations, rescues, and disaster response. He has 20 years of animal welfare, rescue, investigation, and disaster response experience.


Tracey Reis Atlanta Humane

Tracy Reis came to The Atlanta Humane Society in February 2015 as the Director of Operations-Howell Mill Campus and Director of Disaster response. In December 2020, she was moved to the Animal Protection Unit (APU) as its Director. Prior to that, she was the Director of Operations at the Humane Society of South Mississippi for 2 ½ years. She was also the National Director over Emergency Services at American Humane from 2006-2012 and lead the Red Star team on over 45 responses including Fires, Hurricanes, puppy mills, and hoarding cases. This also includes a nine day trip to Haiti at the invitation of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, in Jan 2010. She was the Co-Chair of the Federal Level, Sheltering Best Practice Working Group and sat on multiple local working groups (USAI, Denver CART). She was also a member of NARSC (National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition) since its inception in 2006.

In 2009, she received the “Human Hero Award” given by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation.

With 30 years in animal welfare, she has extensive large and small animal handling, shelter operations-including admissions, adoptions, foster and animal care, large scale emergency sheltering expertise, large scale cruelty operations, as well as emergency field rescue experience and knowledge.


Jessica Krueger - Best Friends Animal Society

Jessica is the national manager for the shelter collaborative program. In this role she supports peer mentors and fellows as they work together to implement lifesaving programs. Jessica began her career in animal welfare with Best Friends in 2016 as an animal caregiver at the Atlanta lifesaving center and has been in several roles since then, from adoptions to shelter support. She helped the Atlanta program transition from a brick-and-mortar location to a community-based model and has loved watching the program grow! Her favorite part of her job is working with shelter staff, assisting in medical and naming litters of kittens.

Jessica lives outside of Atlanta with her husband, two tiny humans, two dogs, one cat, four chickens, and most likely a foster kitten. 


Nick Walton - Best Friends Animal Society

Nick Walton is the National Shelter Support Senior Manager for Best Friends Animal Society and works with officers and shelters nationwide to implement progressive, community-focused practices that support lifesaving within the shelter, as well as increase officer safety and efficiency.

From the first cruelty case he worked as an officer, he knew that a large-scale shift would be needed in order to make Atlanta a safe place for pets. He committed himself to a community-oriented approach to animal welfare enforcement with the goal of changing how the community viewed animal services and its officers. Commonly referred to as the “dog food man” within the inner city of Atlanta, Nick was instrumental in developing trust within the community and becoming a welcome sight throughout underserved areas of the city. Prioritizing this philosophy, as well as utilizing resources such as Pets For Life, allowed Nick to save more lives by keeping pets in their homes and out of the shelter. As a Field Training Officer, he would train new employees on the philosophy of community-engagement, further solidifying this mindset into the culture of FCAS.

Working in Fulton County afforded Nick many diverse experiences as an ACO and resulted in his instrumental role in a number of large-scale cruelty cases from voodoo cases to circus animal cruelty. The lifesaving techniques that Nick developed and championed at Fulton County Animal Services represent the next step for animal control field services: a proactive solution-based approach to animal issues with an emphasis on building a supportive and safe community.


Dustin Dutton; Shelter Director - Cherokee County, Alabama, Lead Instructor - BigTime Speakers, LLC.

I started my career back in 2009. I worked in corrections for a couple of years before I transferred to the Animal Control Department. I've attended training through various organizations HSUS, NACA, NACI/LETI, Humane Educators of Texas, just to name a few. I have been the Shelter Manager since 2017. I'm skilled in various animal welfare/control investigations. I have worked multiple cruelty cases and assisted in cases with other agencies. I am also an instructor for Big Time Speakers LLC.


Mindy Gilbert has worked on animal protection issues in Alabama for more than 30 years. From an early age, she has believed that animals enrich our lives in many ways and deserve our protection. Gilbert works at the state and municipal levels to protect the existing foundation of animal protection laws and to amend or enact new policies, while also providing training to animal control and law enforcement to ensure stronger cruelty response and awareness. Because Alabama experiences increasing potential for disasters, Gilbert also maintains close contact with affected animal shelters to assess needs and provide resources.


Chris Schindler

A 20 –year veteran in animal welfare, Chris Schindler is the Vice President of Field Services for the Humane Rescue Alliance, where he directs HRA’s Humane Law Enforcement and Animal Control divisions.
One of the nation’s experts on animal crimes, animal fighting and emergency response, Schindler comes to HRA from the Humane Society of the United States where he served as the Director of Animal Cruelty and Fighting for HSUS and Humane Society International. During his 10 year tenure at HSUS, he led their efforts against animal fighting, resulting in the nation’s most significant takedowns of those engaged in this horrific activity. His work made it possible for thousands of animals to be rescued and the most heinous of perpetrators to be prosecuted. Schindler also directed HSUS national investigations on animal cruelty, puppy mills and equine animal cruelty as well as led the field responses on major disaster response throughout the country.
During his tenure at HSUS, Schindler worked on strategic national and international animal cruelty investigations, compiled intelligence and maintained a comprehensive database on known or suspected animal fighters, which was instrumental in helping law enforcement and prosecutors make their cases in court. Schindler has also consulted with and educated local law enforcement agencies on the signs and substance of animal cruelty and fighting operations. He has worked extensively with the FBI and other federal law enforcement agents on interstate cruelty, abuse and neglect cases.
Schindler is a native of the Washington, DC region and he spent three years as a senior law enforcement officer and field supervisor for the Washington Humane Society from 2004 to 2007.

Animal Services Supervisor Haley Brown has been selected to serve as a member of the Georgia Animal Control Association (GACA) Board of Directors as well as the Southeastern Animal Control Association (SACA) Board of Directors.

“To be selected to one of these boards is an honor and a great recognition of the work Haley and the Animal Services team does,” said Code Compliance Director John Mullin. “Being selected to both boards, however, signifies Forsyth County as a gold standard for our neighboring agencies to follow.”

Jessica Stone - ACO/Director of Animal Services Berrien Co.
BIO Coming Soon
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Katrina is a highly experienced animal lover with a passion for animal welfare since 1999. Her journey began as an intern at the Niagara Falls Aquarium for Marine Biology, where she discovered her love for animals. She then worked for over five years as an assistant manager at a Doggie Daycare / Boarding facility, refining her skills in animal care and management. In 205 Katrina completed her associate degree in criminal justice technologies from Gwinnett Technical College. In 2016, Katrina joined the Gwinnett County animal control team as a kennel officer ACOI, rapidly rising through the ranks to become a Cruelty and Neglect Investigator ACOIII. Recently, she was appointed to the Special Operations Manager, responsible for managing all bite cases, neglect and cruelty cases, court and probation, and rescue operations. When she's not working, Katrina enjoys reading, rock hounding, macrame, and spending quality time with her son, dogs, and reptiles. Her commitment to animal welfare is exceptional, making her an invaluable asset to the Gwinnett County team.

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