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Animal Protection Conference and Expo prides itself on partnering with amazing speakers and educators to provide the latest animal related topics, legislation and trends.  


Over the 2-day event, these speakers will share their insights and years of experience to provide the ongoing education necessary to encourage and inspire all professionals and advocates.


More Will Be Added Soon



Veterinarian, Owner of Planned Pethood Plus

Dr. Jeff Young is a charismatic hero who embodies a maverick, 'can-do' spirit while treating a wide variety of animals in Denver and beyond. Straight-talking, warm-hearted and effortlessly cool, he's one of America's busiest veterinarians. His clinic, Planned Pethood Plus, is a local landmark.

It's always a mad house in Dr. Jeff's animal house. With more than 80,000-plus clients, approximately 30 surgeries a day, 30 staff, a bustling emergency room, and a far-reaching mobile clinic, Dr. Jeff is under constant pressure to keep his staff, clients and patients both healthy and happy.

Dr. Jeff felt dismayed some veterinarians were driven by money rather than the well-being of their patients, so Dr. Jeff committed to his 'low-cost animal care for all' mission statement and moved to Denver. Working more than 100 hours a week, he built his Denver clinic and started travelling across America with his mobile clinic, which offers animal care to those who struggled to access it or can't afford it.


Dr. Jeff's biggest cause is spaying and neutering animals in an effort to control the population of cats and dogs that end up in shelters and improve health issues associated with intact pets. He provides low-cost spays and neuters for his clientele and has performed more than 165,000 surgeries.

Now 25 years later, Dr. Jeff's goal remains the same. Dr. Jeff lives and dies by his own code as rules sometimes are meant to be broken. He is not afraid to perform very difficult surgeries if he believes the outcomes could outweigh the risks. And, his loyalty to the welfare of animals sometimes calls for him to step in and remove pets from abusive owners and find them new, healthy forever homes.

Dr. Jeff always focuses on the big picture, which is why he values making a difference in Denver and across the country and beyond. Forever young at heart, Dr. Jeff loves the freedom, variety and sense of adventure that his mobile clinics offer. He has satellite clinics already in Mexico and Eastern Europe, contacts on every continent and a team that will follow him anywhere.



Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer and behavior expert best known as the star of the international hit TV series It's Me or the Dog (Animal Planet US) as well as Greatest American Dog on CBS, Dogs Might Fly on Sky One, Dogs with Extraordinary Jobs on Love Nature (coming in 2020 on Smithsonian Channel US), and her hit web series about the real world of police K-9’s and their handlers, Guardians of the Night. 


A passionate advocate for positive dog training methods, Stilwell is the Editor-in-Chief of, the founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior, and the CEO of Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training – the world’s premier network of positive dog trainers. A best-selling author, Stilwell’s fifth book, The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Puppy will be released on October 1st 2019.




Claudine Wilkins is an attorney, animal law expert, founder of Animal Law Source, past chair GA Bar Animal Law Section, co-founder GA Pet Fd. She started her career as a prosecutor in 1997 and gained national attention in one of the largest verdicts in the nation in a landmark liquor liability case involving 3 fatalities. Since 1996, she has assisted in hundreds of animal abuse cases. In 1998, she created the Animal Protection conference.

In 2009, Claudine petitioned the State Bar of Georgia to create Animal Law Section which was founded later that year. 


In 2014, she founded AnimAnimal Law Source, an organization that serves as a resource for animal law professionals across the state and, a website dedicated to assisting those professionals. Her continuing efforts to draft legislation protecting children and animals resulted in the passage of many state and local laws including: the Georgia Dog Fighting law, The Responsible Dog Owner Act (dangerous dog law) and the Animal Cruelty law and more.

Having trained over 5,000 professionals, she continues teaching prosecutors, judges, attorneys, police, animal control officers, veterinarians, vet techs, animal shelter staff, rescue/foster, dog trainers, students and professionals involved with animals on animal law, animal cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment, hoarding, large impound cases, equine cruelty, public safety, dangerous dog issues, dog bite cases and liability issues facing all professions involved.

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Manager, Companion Animal/Equine Section, GA Department of Agriculture

Mark began with GA Dept. of Ag in 1994 as a Plant Industry Inspector.  In 2001 he was transferred to the Animal Protection Division and was an Animal Protection Inspector until 2007.  Promoted to supervisor in 2007 until 2011, Mark has worked as Section Manager for the last four years.  Mark wrote the S.O.P. in 2010 for the Animal Protection Section and created rules changes for the Animal Protection Act rules which were approved in 2013 by Commissioner Black.

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President of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, 

Rebecca's first book, Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, was published in 2008. She is an internationally sought instructor in technical rescue techniques, procedures, and methodologies, and she has published numerous critiques, articles and journal submissions on horse safety, technical large animal rescue and horse handling issues.

Publication and more can be found at ,



Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit

From 2013 – 2016, Ms. Schwartz served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Griffin Judicial Circuit, and in early 2017, was appointed as a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, where she currently serves as a member of the Drug Prosecutions Division.  In addition to her work in drug prosecutions, Ms. Schwartz also specializes in the prosecution of animal cruelty cases.  She was one of a core group of Georgia lawyers whose efforts contributed to both the passage of the Animal Protection Act of 2000, which provided for felony punishment for certain acts of animal cruelty, and HB 863, which revised Georgia’s Cruelty to Animal’s Statute in 2014.  In 2011, she received a Prosecutor Recognition Award from the Humane Society of the United States for her work on the trial of a defendant who was convicted of violently beating a dog to death with a garden hoe, in addition to other crimes.

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Janice Overbeck Real Estate

In 2016, Janice molded her love and devotion for animals of the world and founded JO Gives, Inc., a non-profit organization that focuses on animal advocacy in the local Atlanta area and abroad. Janice’s non-profit helps animals in three different ways. First, her real estate team office hosts low-cost pet vaccination clinics each month to raise money for homeless pets locally in their state of Georgia.

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Director of Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter, GA 

 Shaina Knight has been the Director of Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter since 2017. Shaina has a degree in education,  is a nationally certified animal control officer and has over 400 hours of continuing education in the field of veterinary and shelter medicine. 


She now gives back through training, putting her 15 years of experience in veterinary and shelter settings to good use. She has been a presenter, a trainer, and most importantly a friend to all the animals and people she meets.

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Deputy Administrator, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, recently former Deputy Administrator for Animal Care, Washington, DC 

Juarez was appointed Deputy Administrator in 2019.  In this role, she provides leadership and direction to ensure the safe development and introduction of genetically engineered organisms.  


Prior to this appointment, Ms. Juarez served as Deputy Administrator for Animal Care since 2016, where she led the program’s many employees in protecting and ensuring the welfare of millions of animals nationwide that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act (HPA).  She also oversaw the collaborative work done to assist pet owners and regulated facilities prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.



Athens-Clarke County Animal Control

Athens-Clarke County Attorney’s Office Sherrie Hines graduated from UGA Law in 2009. She was a public defender for over six years, but has now shifted to prosecution as the Assistant Attorney who prosecutes all of the animal control ordinance violations for Athens-Clarke County.

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Senior Attorney for Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program, Retired (34-year)  Chief Deputy District Attorney, Denver, CO

Diane Balkin is a senior staff attorney for Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program. She began her career as a prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s Office in 1979, where she has worked for the last 32 years. When she retired from the DA’s office on July 15, 2011, Diane was the Chief Deputy District Attorney (trial attorney) where she prosecuted all types of felonies (including homicides) and supervised a team of junior lawyers and support staff. Diane also served as the “animal crimes” prosecutor in her office where she demonstrated time and time again her commitment to ensuring both an effective investigation and an aggressive prosecution of every animal cruelty case within her jurisdiction.



Athens-Clarke County Animal Control

Kathryn Schoepf earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resources from the University of Georgia. She has been an Animal Control Officer for 6 years at Athens-Clarke County Animal Control and was interim Field Supervisor from January-May 2019. Previously, she was an Animal Control Officer with Oconee County Animal Services. Kathryn presented at the January and August 2019 UGA Law-Athens-Clarke County Animal Welfare Workshops.

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Associate Professor of Law & Practicum in Animal Welfare Skills Director

Milot's teaching is informed by her past experience as a tax and estate planning partner at Ivins, Phillips & Barker, Chtd, and as a business and licensing associate at Cooley LLP. As a result, in addition to teaching more doctrinal subjects, in the classroom Milot emphasizes the skills and training necessary for young lawyers to succeed in practice. She was named the 2009 UGA Professor of the Year by the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers.

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Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office

She is the Director of the Animal Law Unit at the Attorney General’s Office. She is charged with taking all animal law questions in Virginia. She is called on by agencies all over the Commonwealth to act as a special prosecutor in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. Ms. Welch has also been appointed a special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia to aid in animal fighting prosecutions.  Ms. Welch frequently gives advice to law enforcement authorities and prosecutors all over Virginia, the nation and internationally.   She trains prosecutors, animal control and law enforcement officers on the state of Virginia animal law and testified before a U.S. Congressional Caucus examining the enforcement of animal laws and the cooperation between state and federal partners. She is a frequent speaker at many conferences, including the Virginia Animal Control Association.

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Principal Artificial Intelligence Strategist at Lockheed Martin, GA.

Introduce Chris Benson is among the foremost thought leaders on the use of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and autonomous systems to revolutionize animal rescue, animal control, and animal protection.

In addition to being an avid animal advocate for more than a decade, Chris is Principal Artificial Intelligence Strategist at Lockheed Martin, where he works with some of the most advanced technology platforms in the world.  He came to Lockheed Martin from Honeywell SPS, where he was Chief Scientist for Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning.  Chris is Co-Host of the Practical AI podcast, which reaches thousands of artificial intelligence enthusiasts each week, and is an international keynote speaker who gives talks at events around the world.

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Commissioner, Georgia Department of Agriculture

For over 38 years Gary W. Black has championed sound state and federal policies impacting food safety, science-based environmental stewardship and agricultural marketing. Now beginning his third term, Commissioner Black remains committed to fostering growth in Georgia's number one industry.

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Senior Animal Cruelty Investigator, Gwinnett County Animal Services

Officer Brooks has a previous background of crime scene investigation, and he recently completed the National Cruelty Investigation Level 2 and 3 program and level 1 Thermography and certified as a Thermographer . He has served on the Gwinnett County Domestic Violence Task Force and Fatality Review Project. He also was past President of Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals. He has lectured extensively to universities, civic organizations and law enforcement on animal welfare and cruelty investigation topics.



VSPDT Cherokee County Animal Shelter

Katherine Kekel has devoted her life to saving & improving the lives of animals. From the age of 13, she has passionately been working with the Cherokee County Animal Shelter, being involved in every step of the shelter process. She has been on staff since 2012 & is certified though Victoria Stilwell's VSPDT Program since 2015. In her spare time, she continues her passion by helping pet owners with low cost in home training.



Founding Executive Director of Canine CellMates

Susan began laying the groundwork for Canine CellMates while she was an entrepreneur and owner of a local boutique. Building Canine CellMate was an arduous 18 month process of planning, meeting, jumping through government hurdles and going back to the drawing board, but through passion and determination Canine CellMates became a reality in 2013. After 3 ½ years of running Encore Boutique and Canine CellMates, and working 100+ hours a week, Susan closed her business to spend her time focused on her passion - Canine CelllMates … Utilizing shelter dogs to change the lives of incarcerated men.



Attorney, Service Animal Expert

William D. Goren is one of the country’s foremost authorities on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For 28 years and continuing, he has been advising on ADA compliance as both an attorney and professor—of which during his time as a full-time academic at various institutions in Chicago, he won numerous teaching awards and achieved tenure.

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Director of Animal Newton County, President of Georgia Animal Control Association, Board Member of National Animal Care & Control Association

Cindy Wiemann is currently serving her third term on the National Animal Care and Control Assn Board of Directors and served as the treasurer for six years. 


As president of the Georgia Animal Care and Control Assn., she frequently speaks at conferences and training events and is active with state legislation.  She has testified at the Georgia Capital in support or opposition of legislation that would impact the animal care and control profession.    

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Product ManTechnical Director, North America, Veterinary Public Health at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health – US, Athens, GA 

Dr. Joanne Maki is the Technical Director for the North America, Veterinary Public Health group at Boehringer-Ingelheim Animal Health. She works with non-profit groups, government agencies, and public health professionals to implement veterinary rabies prevention programs. Her work supports the global effort led by the WHO, OIE and FAO to eliminate human rabies transmitted by dogs. Her primary focus is technological improvements of oral and injectable veterinary vaccines.



Program Manager, Disaster Response Animal Rescue Team, HSUS 

Prior to her career in animal welfare, Diane worked for over ten years in public education and in 2001 completed a master’s degree in education. In 2007, she merged her formalized training in education with her passion for search and rescue and joined American Humane Association’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services Response program. 



Attorney at Law, Presidential appointee to FEMA in Southeast U.S. from 1997 to 2001, President and CEO of the Contingency Management Group, Inc., Chairman of the Board of the Animal Protection Society. 

Throughout his decorated career, Mr. Copenhaver has been a Senior Advisor for the Business Continuity Institute, a member of the U.S. Chamber National Security Task Force, the FEMA National Advisory Council Private Sector, and was the Former Senior Vice President of Marsh Risk Consulting and Former CEO of the Disaster Recovery Institute International. Mr. Copenhaver has provided on-scene assistance to the governments of El Salvador and Peru after 2001 earthquakes, and provided on-scene assistance to the City of New York in the 9/11 response and recovery efforts.



VSPDT, CCFT, ATD Master Trainer, Curriculum Manager at the Victoria Stilwell Academy, Owner & Head Trainer at The Animal Scientist

Aly believes in evidenced based teaching for both human and non-human animals. She received her degree in Applied Biology from Georgia Tech, and worked in collaboration with Zoo Atlanta’s Reptile Department for her senior thesis on animal cognition. While at Tech, Aly received her Honorary Member status with the Atlanta Police Department for her work training horses at the APD Mounted Patrol Department. After Tech, Aly attended the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Behavior and Training (KPA) where she graduated with distinction from the Dog Training Professionals Program with her standard parti-poodle Klaus. Aly started her own dog training business, The Animal Scientist, bringing science-based methods to help dogs and their people in Midtown, Atlanta. To enhanced her programs, Aly continued her education at the University of Tennessee Veterinary School to became a FitPaws® Master Trainer and Certified Canine Fitness Trainer. Aly currently works as the Curriculum Manager for the Victoria Stilwell Academy (VSA) where she develops and delivers learner-centered, performance-based online and in-person learning experiences for future professional dog trainers. Aly is also pursuing her second certificate in adult (human) learning/instructional design with the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

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Georgia State Senator 

Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, MD, a Republican, represents the 32nd District, which includes East Cobb and Sandy Springs. She serves as Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and as a member of the Senate Health and Human Services, Insurance and Labor, and Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committees. 

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President and Founder of the Rescue Ranch, "middle" GA

BARBARA BRUIGOM is president/founder of The Rescue Ranch located in McRae Helena Georgia. The Rescue Ranch provides high quality/high volume, low cost/no cost spay & neuter services to over ½ the state of Georgia. Originally intended for wildlife rescue/rehab and release, the 2004 hurricanes Frances and Jeanne changed that course.  In March 2005, after being wiped out by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, Barbara moved to the very rural area of McRae, GA.  She saw firsthand the plight of rural animals. Disgusted by no animal controls, no spay/neuter options Barbara began writing for s/n grants and networking with the veterinarians to solve the pet overpopulation problem in middle GA.

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Legal Advocacy Legislative Counsel at ASPCA

Tamara Feliciano, Legal Advocacy Legislative Counsel. Tamara Feliciano currently serves as Legal Advocacy Legislative Counsel for the ASPCA where her practice is focused on legislative work and affirmative civil litigation. Prior to joining the ASPCA, Tamara lent her legal skills and knowledge of animal welfare law to her local community on a probono basis. Tamara has helped several local jurisdictions in Georgia amend their animal control ordinances to promote higher animal welfare standards, and in 2017, she worked alongside the ASPCA to oppose a preemption bill introduced in the Georgia General Assembly. After several years of researching and pursuing complaints against the pet dealing industry, in July of 2017, Tamara filed a nationwide consumer class action lawsuit

against Petland, in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of consumers victimized by Petland’s predatory business practices.



ASPCA Legal Advocacy Council

 Elizabeth Brandler currently serves as Legal Advocacy Senior Counsel for the ASPCA. In this role, Elizabeth is responsible for the development and management of the ASPCA’s second chair program, which provides legal support to law enforcement and prosecutors handling animal cruelty and animal fighting cases across the country.  


Elizabeth also provides and oversees dedicated legal services for the ASPCA-NYPD partnership in New York City, and brings bonding and forfeiture petitions on behalf of the ASPCA.  Elizabeth also provides assistance and legal advice to other ASPCA departments that are involved in criminal case work.   

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