Our Trainers

Heather Wilkerson - Canine SMSD Program Manager

Heather Wilkerson began her career with canines in law enforcement in 1995. Heather shifted her canine training towards search and rescue and search and recovery in the late 1990's. Heather served as a member of a FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Task Force for 10 years. She has certified and deployed multiple dogs during major disasters in the US and Internationally. Heather has served as a Canine Instructor, Evaluator, Coordinator, & Mentor Trainer. She is a former Canine Instructor for Auburn University Canine Detection and Research Institute. Heather owned a working dog kennel for over 10 years and has a passion for human animal interaction, canine physical conditioning and injury prevention. She currently serves as a member of the Sports Medicine Advisory Council for the University Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Heather founded a non-profit organization in 2006 and has served as an Independent Consultant assisting many other Non-Profit Organizations in the Canine Industry for the past 6 years.


Susan Shemwell-Randall / SMSD Lead Trainer

Susan currently serves SMSD as the Lead Trainer for our Mobility Assistance Dog Program. She joined our team in 2013 and has been a tremendous asset to our staff. Susan worked with horses for over 10 years and started transitioning to dog training 7 years ago. Susan is a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavior College and holds a BS Degree in Animal Science. She is a member of Knoxville's Flyball Dog Club with whom she competes with 2 of her own dogs. Susan has a broad knowledge of obedience and animal behavior.


Daniel Johnson, Staff Trainer

Daniel Johnson, Staff Trainer is an Air Force Veteran where he served as a K9 Patrolman/Trainer of military working dogs. Daniel also served as a Canine Instructor III at Auburn University's Canine Detection Training Unit where he participated in cutting edge classified detection concepts with dogs and technology in support of a range of government agencies. More recently, Daniel served as a Canine Handler/Trainer.