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.
SMSD has been awarded Gold Star Accreditation by Assistance Dogs International. This validates that the facilities and operation of the SMSD program meets or exceeds ADI standards.
Congratulations to recent graduates US Army and Vietnam veteran Ike Weaver and SMSD "Nitro" and US Air Force and Special Operations veteran Daniel Belcher with SMSD "Stryker"
A Salute to Air Force Veteran Billy Marshall and his SMSD "Lucy"
"Friends", a Message From Our Dogs
Written by Mitch Townley specifically as Theme Song for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs
US Army Veteran Kevin Jankoski with "Blitz", his SMSD mobility assistance dog. Graduated Oct. 16th
Marine Veteran SGT. Bradley Walker with "Bella", his SMSD mobility assistance dog.
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs "Tribute to Our Military"
Each Smoky Mountain Service Dog puppy is hand selected by our trainers and the majority will come from reputable breeders. Appropriate shelter/rescue dogs may also be considered.
Volunteer Dennis Tissot Training Bella and Blitz
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs now accepting Preliminary Applications.
Did You Know?
Over 50 million Americans, ages 5-65 have physical or psychological disabilities.
22 military veterans commit suicide daily, 7,744 annually
It takes approximately 2 years, between $20,000 to $25,000 and 1200 hours of training to place a service dog.