Heather Wilkerson, Program Manager/Consultant
Heather started training dogs for competition obedience in 1990. Heather became a Police K-9 Handler in 1995, then began training Search and Rescue dogs in 2000. Heather is currently a Subject Matter Expert, Canine Instructor and Handler for a Federal Urban Search and Rescue team here in TN. Heather has been a Canine Instructor for Auburn University's Canine Detection and Research Institute and continues to train dogs for various contracted agencies for odor detection. Heather trains Service Dogs for children and adults with physical, psychological disabilities, and emotional disorders and currently serves as a Canine Program Consultant for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. Heather is often consulted by the public and private sectors for behavior modification for pets as well as working dogs. Heather enjoys sharing her knowledge through instructional seminars and workshops, Public Relation Events within the community, and to various Professional Working Dog Groups.
Susan Shemwell, Staff Trainer
Susan has recently joined our team here at Savannah Springs K-9 Center and we are very excited to have her. Susan has worked with horses for over 10 years and started transitioning to dogs 5 years ago. She completed the Animal Behavior College program and is certified in pet dog obedience. She is a member of Knoxville's Flyball Dog Club with whom she competes with 2 of her dogs. Susan is also a member of East TN DVG, a local Schutzhund club, with her GSD. She has a broad knowledge of obedience and animal behavior. Susan has a BS Degree in Animal Science and currently works with our Mobility Assistance Dog program at Savannah Springs. She has a passion for the working dog and sport dog. Susan is excited for this opportunity to expand her knowledge and share her love of the working dog with others.
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.
"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.
Recent graduates SGT. Robert Harris and mobility assistance service dog "Bearden", sponsored by the Bearden HS JROTC Cadet Corps.
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.