C.E.O. and Founder of Canine Support Teams, Inc.
Disabled by polio as a child, Carol is uniquely qualified as a trainer and a client. She understands, at a very deep and personal level, what a service dog can do and what they mean to our clients. Carol leads a small yet dedicated staff and an army of volunteers to provide skilled service dogs to those in need. She regularly marshals the energy, resources and people required to carry out the CST mission with rare empathy and passion.
Following her polio diagnosis, Carol endured hundreds of hours of physical therapy throughout her childhood. By the time she was sixteen, she was able to function as a paraplegic, getting around well with a manual wheelchair. More recent research has led to the identification of Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS). Ironically, it seems to be the result of prolonged, continuous physical therapy.
A dog-lover since childhood, Carol always enjoyed the companionship of dogs. While managing the full responsibilities of being wife & mother, she turned her passion for dogs into a profession as a dog trainer. She began holding classes and offering training for Obedience and Protection. “I think people came and signed up for training because they wanted to watch the ‘lady in the wheelchair’ conducting the class,” she laughs.
In her mid-30s, Carol began to experience shoulder and neck pain associated with PPS. She made the transition from a manual- to a power-wheelchair. This prompted her to seek the help of a specially trained Service Dog. After an unsuccessful first placement, Carol received a black lab named ARIES. While well-trained in obedience, ARIES lacked the specific skills needed to assist Carol. She determined to train him herself, and ARIES became a great first Service Dog experience. It wasn’t long until others began seeking her out. “People started asking me to help them with their service dogs,” she said. “I was able to work with both the dogs and their owners and help make good dogs even better.”
The abundance of requests and her commitment to dog training led to the formation of the nonprofit organization called Canine Support Teams. “Those of us with physical challenges don't want to be completely dependent on others; we want to do for ourselves as much as possible. It's extremely important for us to have some independence and be accepted no matter what we look like. No matter how twisted our bodies, or our ability to speak and communicate, dogs will love us anyway.”
Carol has been recognized at the local, state and national levels for her contributions to the community. She has advanced the standards of the Service Dog industry and is an advocate for disabled persons with Service Dogs. Her innovative dog training program within correctional facilities has served as a model for dozens of other programs across the country. The success stories and testimonials are strong validation of value of the program as it has impacted hundreds of inmates since its inception.
Carol has been at the helm of CST from the beginning and remains closely involved with the daily operations of the organization. She personally interviews Service Dog applicants, participates in Prison Pups Program, conducts Team Trainings, provides Client care, and serves as Ambassador to the communities we serve. After 25+ years, Carol remains the driving force behind the CST mission. She has made a lasting difference through hundreds of service dogs for people living with a range of disabilities.
After 25+ years, Carol remains the driving force behind the CST mission and doesn’t see herself retiring anytime soon!
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CST is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing assistance/service dogs to people with disabilities other than blindness.
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