Service Dogs, Inc. of Austin, Texas

Our Staff

Sheri Soltes

President and Founder

Sheri Soltes founded 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 Service Dogs, Inc. Under her guidance, Service Dogs, Inc. has led the industry in combining the use of all rescue dogs

with positive reinforcement training methodology.

Sheri has mentored assistance dog programs around the world including Australia, Japan, Spain and Chile. She has been a featured speaker at many conferences and institutions in the United States, Spain and Chile.

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’s accomplishments include:

  • Assistance Dogs International
    • Board of Directors, 1999 – 2003
    • Vice President and Conference Chair, 1999 – 2003
  • Assistance Dogs International, North America
    • Board of Directors, 2016 – present
    • Vice President, elected 2018
    • Chair, ADI, NA Legislative and Advocacy Committee, 2018 – present
  • Texas Humane Legislative Network
    • Board of Directors, 2018 – 2019
  • Austin Police Department – Helped create its Search and Rescue Dog program including donating APD’s first Search and Rescue dog and providing initial training. K9 “Austin” was named “Search and Rescue Dog of the Year” by the American Kennel Club.
  • Chairman’s Commendation from Austin Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, 2006)
  • Service to Mankind award from Austin Sertoma Club, 2011
  • Member, City of Austin’s Capital Transportation Authority’s Appellate Committee for Paratransit Eligibility, 2012

In addition to countless interviews and appearances, Sheri created

  • My Pet, KXAN-TV (NBC), Austin (weekly, 2012 to present)
  • Café Woof, FOX-TV, Austin (monthly, 2007 – 2008)

Special Events
In 1999, Sheri created the Mighty Texas Dog Walk as a special event fundraiser for Service Dogs, Inc. It has won five Guinness World Records including “Largest Dog Walk” and “Biggest Fur Ball”.   Over the past 15 years, it has raised millions of dollars.

Civic Engagement
In 2020, Sheri ran for Travis County Commissioner, Precinct 3.
In 2018, Sheri ran for Texas State Representative.

Becky Kier

Director of Training

Becky Kier 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.  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.

Taylor Smith


Taylor is a valuable trainer for SDI. Her special niche is that she brings relatability to the deaf clients that apply for Hearing Dogs, as she is deaf herself.

She became part of the SDI family with the goal of training her own Hearing Dog and 7 years later, she is instructing, training, and advocating for the clients to lead independent lives through our program dogs.

Taylor prides herself in instructing future clients to create meaningful and deep relationships with their new working dog. Her biggest focus in the training process is bringing the awareness of trust, communication, and eye contact between the dog and the new handler. She believes in the power of positive reinforcement and has seen the magic transform the lives of clients.

In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Hearing Dog who is a small lab/ chihuahua mix and her other dog, a German Shepherd mix. Taylor also takes on private clients on the side to continue to spread positive ways to train your dog. Her lifelong goal is to eventually do search and rescue and help people on a national level during times of disaster.