President and Founder
Sheri Soltes founded the non-profit Service Dogs, Inc. in 1988 on the concept of using dogs rescued from animal shelters. An honors graduate from both the University of Texas School of Law and the University of Texas Plan II Honors undergraduate program, she left her law practice to devote her full time to building SDI. Under her guidance, SDI leads the industry combining the use of all rescue dogs with positive reinforcement training methodology.
Sheri and SDI have mentored assistance dog programs around the world including Australia, Japan, Spain and Chile. She has been a featured speaker at many conferences and institutions including
- The Association of Behavior Analysis
- Asociación Española de Perros de Asistencia, Madrid, Spain (2000, 2001, 2003)
- International Marine Animal Trainers Association, Mexico
- National Coalition of Councils for Developmental Disabilities
- Animal Behavior Management Alliance (2004; Keynote Presentation 2005)
- Fundación Bocalán del Perro de Ayuda Social, Barcelona, Spain (2006)
- Carabineros de Chile Escuela de Suboficiales Curso de Adiestramiento Perros Policiales, Santiago, Chile (2006)
Sheri’s articles on the legal rights of Assistance Dog users have been published by Assistance Dogs International, the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners and Leader Dogs for the Blind. She drafted the 1995 revisions for Texas’ Assistance Dog accessibility statute.
Sheri served two 3 year terms on the Board of Directors of Assistance Dogs International, the most recent as Vice President. ADI is the coalition of training organizations for Guide, Hearing, Service and Seizure Dogs. She also served as ADI Conference Chair from 1999-2002.
She assisted the Austin Police Department in creating its Search and Rescue Dog program. SDI donated the first SAR dog and provided the initial training. K9 “Austin” was named “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year” by the American Kennel Club.
SDI won The Austin Chronicle’s Critic’s Choice for “Mightiest Dogs on Earth” received in October 2005. SDI’s Mighty Texas Dog Walk also has won two Guinness World Records for “Largest Dog Walk”. (1999, 2002)
In 2006, the Austin Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities voted to award Sheri its Chairman’s Commendation to Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. Sheri hosted Café Woof, a monthly pet training segment, on FOX-TV in Austin from 2007 – 2008.
In 2011, the Austin Sertoma Club awarded her its Service to Mankind award, the highest honor bestowed on a non-member. She is also a newly appointed member of Austin Cap Metro’s Disability Appeals Review Committee.
Director of Training
World Class All Star: “I Want to Give Back”
International training All Star Alan Kordowski has done it all.
Kordowski left the inaugural Exotic Animal Training and Management program at Moorpark College in 1975 to begin his 31 year professional career at SeaWorld, Orlando. During his tenure he was formative in establishing a highly-successful training methodology replacing punishment with positives and worked across the entire management portfolio from developing shows and enhancing day-to-day guest interaction experiences through to enriching the environments for the marine and terrestrial animals.
Next, he attracted international attention from Atlantis, The Palm, a $1.5 billion ocean-themed destination resort in Dubai. They recruited him as their Vice President of Dolphin Bay where he was responsible for instituting and operating the United Arab Emirates’ first licensed dolphin interactive facility. There he oversaw the installation of the natural environment-based facility and recruited and managed an international team of 110 employees. He also developed educational programs for schools and universities in partnership with the U.A.E.’s Government and Environmental teams, established a complete veterinary laboratory and developed a program for rescue and rehabilitation of stranded or injured marine animals.
Most recently, Kordowski was the Director of Zoological Operations at Wild Adventures Theme Park inValdosta,Georgia which includes hundreds of exotic animals as well as a water park, rides and concerts.
An established speaker and presenter on a variety of topics, including the philosophy and practices of Falconry, Kordowski has served as Vice Present and President, Board of Directors for the International Marine Animal Trainers Associations and also served as CFO, Board of Directors for The Animal Behavior Management Alliance.
“Life has been very good to me,” says Kordowski. “I’m ready to give back.”
In September, Kordowski took the reins of 24 year old nonprofit Service Dogs, Inc. where he is steering the training department in the organization’s mission to rescue dogs from animal shelters and transform them into working partners for individuals living with disabilities.
“I want to make founder Sheri Soltes’ dream come true,” Kordowski adds. “She wants to make a great thing even better. To maintain the quality of the dogs placed, but to grow the training department with the end goal of people receiving their dogs much sooner.”
The training department is already showing the signs of Kordowski’s leadership, adopting a record thirteen dogs from seven animal shelters in the last quarter of 2011. “This will be our first class of 2012,” Kordowski says, “and it will be a great one!”
Manager of Training
Becky McClintock is a dog trainer and educator specializing in assistance dogs and advanced clicker training. As the Manager of Training for Service Dogs Inc. (SDI) Becky has played an integral role in the advancement of SDI’s training program. Adept in shelter dog assessment, she has evaluated hundreds of shelter dogs in her work with SDI.
Becky created her business, Seize the Click! to provide consultation and educational services to other trainers. Her passion is thoughtfully training dogs to become engaged, advanced learners, and teaching others to do the same. Her blog chronicles the training progress of her newest dog, Kiss, through video. Becky presents the seminars Click for Independence I and II around the nation.
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers’ (APDT) Chronicle of the Dog has published Becky’s articles on assistance dog training. She has also presented webinars for APDT.
As a graduate of Texas A&M with a B.S. in Animal Science, Becky is a diehard Aggie and was thrilled to consult with the A&M faculty on the search and selection of their Collie mascot, Reveille VIII.
Susan Ramsbottom, RVT, CPDT-KA
Senior Trainer & In-home Trainer
- University of Nebraska — Lincoln, major in Zoology
- University of Texas — Arlington, Degree in Psychology
- 1982 – Registered Veterinarian Technician (Certified 1986)
- SPCA of Texas Training Director for Pet University
- 2006 – Certified TAGTeach Primary
- 2010 – Certified Professional Dog Trainer — Knowledge Assessed, Certification Council For Professional Dog Trainers
Proudly coming from a Midwestern agricultural family background, Susan attributes her love of animals and nature to her father who valued the many important lessons learned growing up on the farm and wanted to share them with his children. Susan and her sisters and brother learned the love of animals and experienced these important life lessons through such programs as 4-H, Girl Scouts, and through other extracurricular clubs and activities. Among the many classes they took was a Dog Training class. This was the beginning of a lifelong love of dogs, training and showing that also evolved into canine related careers for all three sisters.
Susan’s first animal 4-H project was the Dog Project. She excelled as a competitor in Junior Showmanship, Conformation and Obedience, the only venues available in the dog sport world at the time. Giving back her knowledge, she became an instructor and mentor for the community as well as 4-H, teaching classes and giving demonstrations and presentations. She went throughout Nebraska, Kansas and Texas judging at county and state fairs and giving seminars for the 4-H Dog program.
Susan is a Senior Trainer at Service Dogs Inc. (SDI) whose main role is as In-Home Trainer. What interests her most about this role is the challenge of working with two different species, of getting a novice person, with physical challenges, to get the most out of their trained dog, to help them carry on their daily routine with the most independence possible. This involves many problem solving challenges. Being a lover of puzzles, this makes for a perfect fit. Susan grew up loving long and frequent road trips that their family took throughout the Midwest and Texas, for business and family purposes. So SDI’s unique In-Home program also made working at SDI very attractive.
Susan’s family valued optimism, so SDI’s focus on training through positive reinforcement element was also very attractive. After training dogs in some form since 1967, she has seen quite an evolution in training methods over the years. It can be a challenge to exclude proven methods she used before, but it is a challenge she prefers to master in training for both SDI and her own dogs. She also enjoys the opportunity of evaluating and working with dogs of various and unknown heritage, helping these individuals to become the very most that they can be.
Never getting enough of training of all sorts, Susan is actively involved in training for and exhibiting in Agility, Conformation/Breed Handling, Competitive Obedience and Rally, and has recently adding the sport of Lure Coursing. In 2011 her Standard Manchester Terrier, “Lily”, earned the honor of competing at the AKC Invitational Agility trial, where only 5 individuals of each breed are invited to compete. In 2012 “Lily” completed the difficult requirements to earn a place in the American Manchester Club of America’s Hall of Fame, a lifetime achievement that only a few ever achieve.
Susan’s family has been involved with have been Doberman Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, Pointers, and a Saluki. Now Manchester Terriers are her main breed interest. She finds them an interesting challenge and they are becoming the love of her life!!!
Inheriting her parents’ love of learning, Susan likes to keep current in subjects of interest by studying topics like training, behavior, structure and movement, and Veterinary topics. When she is at home in the rare moments when she’s not training, she enjoys gardening, bird watching and other outdoor activities, cooking, long road trips and visiting with friends and family.
Elizabeth Morgan has been a trainer with Service Dogs Inc. (SDI) since 2007. A Certified Professional Dog Trainer and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, Elizabeth is constantly educating herself about new techniques that make her a better trainer.
Growing up in Alabama, Elizabeth has been interested in assistance dog training since she began training her first dog at the age of twelve. She went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in 2005, double majoring in Psychology and Social Work at the University of Montevallo.
Elizabeth started her dog training career while still in college, leading group pet dog training classes in which she taught basic and advanced obedience. After three years of training, she applied and was hired as an Apprentice Trainer at SDI. She quickly completed the apprentice program, and has been teaching new apprentice trainers since 2009.
“My favorite part of working at SDI,” Elizabeth says, “is seeing the dogs I’ve trained working with their new owners for the first time during Team Training week. Most people expect that, as trainers, we get really attached to the dogs we’ve worked with, and we do. But seeing them bonding and doing the tasks for people that need them so badly… it’s magic.”
Susan Lewis grew up near Galveston Bay in Dickinson, Texas. As a child, she enjoyed being outdoors and particularly enjoyed caring for the many pets she and her sister owned. As a teenager, working at a pet store taught her many helpful skills, including caring for a wide range of species as well as dealing with the public.
Susan left Dickinson in 2008 and moved with her sister to Nacogdoches, Texas. After working in both the retail and the food service industries, she left Nacogdoches and moved to Dripping Springs, Texas with her fiancée.
It was this move that brought her as a volunteer to Service Dogs Inc. After several weeks of volunteering, she was given the opportunity to join the team on a full-time level as a kennel technician. After being promoted to an apprentice training position she earned her current post as a full time trainer at SDI.
This job has allowed her to see her hard work make a real difference in people’s lives. Susan is excited to go to work each and every day.