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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.

2023 Agenda Coming Soon!
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2023 Speakers

We are currently securing our speakers and will have

a full list of speakers posted shortly.


Attorney, Animal Law Expert, Founder - The Animal Protection Society, Animal Law Source and APAW Academy

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.


Below are last year's speakers. 
This years speakers will be up soon.

Companion Animal/Equine Division - Inspector 2, GA Dept. of Agriculture
Time: Saturday, October 22, 1:20pm-3:00pm 

Topic: What A Good Shelter Looks Like; Parameters that make up a good animal


Nissa began her employment with The Georgia Department of Agriculture in May 2017, at 20 years old, as an entry level Inspector for the Companion Animal/Equine Program. In her 5 ½ years with The Department Nissa has received numerous trainings including completing ICS courses, Large Animal Emergency Response, Animals in Disaster, and Radiological Decontamination for Companion Animals. Nissa was promoted to Senior Inspector in 2021. In addition to her routine responsibilities, Nissa participates in trainings for law enforcement and animal control agencies, local government officials, shelter staffs, and occasionally the general public (as approved). Nissa had also served as a member of the GDA SART response team and been involved in several high-profile investigations. 

Nissa graduated from Morrisville State College with an Associate Degree in Equine Science and Management. She is an animal lover at heart. She has a pet dog, cat, horse, snake and turtle.




District Attorney

Time: Friday, October 21, 9:35am-11:15am

Topic: Dog Fighting: See a dog fighting ring/scene, dive deep into a real case,        investigating, prosecuting and more

The District Attorney is an elected official and the Chief Prosecution Officer of the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit, comprised of Polk and Haralson Counties. Under the Constitution and the laws of the State of Georgia, the District Attorney is responsible for the prosecution of criminal offenses, felonies and misdemeanors, committed in Polk and Haralson Counties.

It is the responsibility of the District Attorney's Office is to ensure and provide for the fair, effective, and expeditious prosecution of crimes in Polk and Haralson Counties.

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Founder and President, Rescue Ranch
Time: Saturday, October 22, 10:10am - 11:50pm

Topic: The importance of education for Vets, Law Enforcement and ACOs

especially in rural areas; What to do in abuse cases and how to promote change in these rural areas.


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.



Director of Shelter Operations, Humane Society of Northeast Georgia
Time: Friday, October 21, 12:45pm-2:30pm 

Topic: Big Dogs: Maximizing Life-Saving by Taking an Enrichment Approach

Katie Corbett is the Director of Shelter Operations for the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, and the Board Chair for My Pitbull is Family. Katie has multiple years of experience in shelter behavior including playgroups and behavior modification for large dogs at risk of euthanasia. She has experience in both municipal and private sheltering and works with community members that are at risk of surrendering or euthanizing their dogs due to behavior. Katie is recognized as a Fear Free Professional and holds certifications in CPDT, CBATI and Shelter Behavioral Management. 

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Canine Aggression Consulting, LLC, Dog Bite Expert

Time: Friday, October 21, 7:30am-9:10am (Will speak after welcome)

Topic: Investigating Dog Attacks

Time: Friday, October 21, 9:35am-11:15am

Topic: Veterinarian assistance to Law Enforcement and Local Agencies -

          dog fighting, hoarding cases, cruelty cases and more.

Time: Friday, October 21, 12:45pm-2:30pm

Topic: Law Enforcement Encounters with dogs; What you should know and how you can avoid an altercation or casualty.

Mr. Crosby is a retired Police Lieutenant and has professionally trained dogs, taught individual and group obedience classes, and addressed canine behavior problems since 1999. He serves as Division Management Consultant of Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services, the municipal agency responsible for rescue and adoption needs, investigation of animal cruelty, animal fighting, and regulation of Dangerous Dogs for residents of Jacksonville. Holding a Master of Science in Veterinary Forensic Medicine, Jim is recognized in and out of Court as an expert in the US and Canada on Dangerous Dogs, canine aggression, fatal dog attacks, and related issues.  Jim teaches safe handling and rehabilitation of Dangerous Dogs and Investigation of Fatal and Serious Dog Attacks to police, animal control agencies, and others across the US and Canada. He has been instrumental in a number of successful prosecutions focused on dog related fatalities.

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National Director, Shelter Collaborative Program, Best Friends Animal Society

Time: Friday, October 21, 3:30pm-4:30pm

Topic: Rethinking Your Adoption Process to Inspire, Empower and Inform

Carrie Ducote got hooked on animal welfare in 2007 when she began volunteering with a local rescue group in college. After graduation, she spent five years working at Atlanta Humane Society and Georgia SPCA before joining Best Friends in 2015. She began the Cobb County community cat program in 2016 and worked with the East regional team for 6 years partnering with shelters to save more animals and chairing the Georgia Animal Shelter Alliance. She now works nationally to pair shelters up in a mentorship capacity to support the implementation of best practices to increase the number of dogs and cats saved. Carrie holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Georgia College and State University, a master’s degree in anthrozoology from Canisius College and institutional certificates from Southern Utah University in Animal Services Executive Leadership and Cat Lifesaving.



Founder and Executive Director, American Cruelty Investigations School

Time: Saturday, October 22, 1:20pm-3:00pm

Topic: Field Operations and Liability for Animal Control Officers and

          Law Enforcement and Psychological Profiles of Animal Hoarders

Doug Eddins earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Louisville College of Business in Louisville, KY.  He brings law enforcement experience and application of constitutional law during criminal investigations to AACIS.  


He is an instructor at Gulf Coast State College and teaches the state-mandated animal control officer certification classes for the Florida Animal Control Association.   Additionally, he serves as a court-appointed cruelty investigator and assists other law enforcement and animal control agencies across the country with cruelty investigations



Director of Curriculum Development, American Cruelty Investigations School

Time: Saturday, October 22, 3:30pm-4:30 pm

Topic: Top 10 Things Animal Cruelty Investigators and Law Enforcement

          Need to Know

Stephanie brings a wealth of animal behavior and medical knowledge to AACIS.  With over 35 years experience with exotic animals, birds, and marine life, Stephanie’s background in veterinary medicine never fails to grab the student’s attention.  Stephanie is a sergeant with animal control and has successfully investigated and prosecuted some of the largest equine cruelty and dogfighting cases in the state of Florida.  She is also an instructor at Gulf Coast State College and teaches the state-mandated animal control officer certification classes for the Florida Animal Control Association.


In 2016, Stephanie became the first animal control officer in Escambia County to receive the Medal of Commendation from Sheriff David Morgan for her outstanding accomplishments in prosecuting felony cases of animal cruelty.


In 2017, Stephanie was selected as the Animal Control Officer of the Year by the Florida Animal Control Association for her accomplishments in modernizing her agency, creating policies and procedures that improve officer safety and productivity, developing inter-agency relationships, and serving as a certified expert witness in prosecuting animal cruelty.



Founder and CEO, the Rescue Dog Cafe

Time: Saturday, October 22, 8:00am-9:40am

Topic: America's Animal Welfare System is Broken and What We Can Do About it:   A Deep Dive into Issues of Equity, Disparity and Access

Aaron Fisher is the Founder and CEO of Atlanta Rescue Dog Cafe (ARDC).  He was a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Dept. for seven years.  After tiring of dealing with diplomats who acted like 4th graders, he decided to go ahead and actually teach...4th graders.  He subsequently taught elementary school for seven years, spent more than 12 years volunteering and working in animal welfare, and has been working with at-risk youth since the early '90s.  He first came to Atlanta in 1993 to attend Emory University where he majored in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies.


The combination of these experiences is what motivated him to start ARDC.  Despite his students' interest in learning more about animal welfare and how to responsibly care for pets, very few rescue organizations had educational departments offering such programs.  At the same time, he noticed that the financial incentives for every shelter and rescue organization were based on increasing their capacity to accept morepets, rather than reducing intake, and focusing on keeping pets in homes, off the streets, and out of shelters, and thus, from "becoming rescues" in the first place.



Founder A Way Home For Dogs Non-profit, Animal Welfare Hero of the Year 
Time: October 28, VIRTUAL

Topic: Recovering Pets and Reuniting Families: Tips on tracking lost pets to have more success to reunite them with their families. 

Barbara “Babs” Fry is a hero to pets and pet owners alike in Southern California and beyond. Often referred to as a “pet detective,” Fry estimates she has reunited hundreds, if not thousands, of lost pets with their owners. She uses her dog tracking skills to find lost dogs, often spending many days and even weeks tracking down lost pets. Fry and volunteers with her nonprofit A Way Home for Dogs work tirelessly to reunite lost pets with their owners. Thanks to her love of animals and passion for reuniting pets with their owners, Fry has changed the lives of countless pet owners who have been successfully reunited with their beloved lost pets.




Executive Director of Thomasville Humane Society
Time: Friday, October 21, 3:30pm-4:30 pm

Topic: Rethinking Your Adoption Process to Inspire, Empower and Inform

Giddes, who has been Humane Society executive director for about a year, told the Thomas County commissioners’ public works committee what has taken place in the last 12 months. 

“This has been an exceptional year for the Humane Society,” he said. “We’re really doing very well. The reception from the community has been astronomical.” 

Giddes said the animal shelter has a 96% live release rate.

“That’s an incredible feat,” he said. “We’re the only shelter probably within 100 miles that’s a municipal public/private contracted agency that has those kinds of numbers.”

Giddes said the Humane Society has used new tools to help spread its message and has been popular on social media. The animal shelter also has had more than 150 public engagements with audiences such as schools and civic groups.



Attorney and Service Animal Law Expert 
Time: Virtual Day, October 28th

Topic: Understanding the American Disabilities Act for Law Enforcement, Animal Control Officers, Attorneys and more.

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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Deputy District Attorney, Fulton County, Georgia
Time: Saturday, October 22, 1:20 - 3:00pm 

Topic: Animal Cruelty and Coercive Control: How animal professionals can save

          lives by understanding the warning signs of abuse against humans and


Jill has been at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for over 18 years.  She Specializes in domestic violence, animal cruelty, and technology based investigation and prosecution. Jill utilizes the powerful technological tools available to her to ensure the discovery and admissibility of digital evidence in cases.


Jill graduated from Tufts University with a BA in Psychology and Comparative Religions and from Emory University School of Law in 2002.



NACA and Director of Volusia County Animal Services

Time: Saturday, October 22, 10:10 am - 11:50 am 

Topic: When Rescues Need to be Rescued: Animal rescues and nonprofit

          organizations provide valuable resources to the success of any modern-day

          animal services department. However, what happens when the rescue is the

          problem. Rescues are often the subject of alleged neglect. If the rescue fails

          to meet the needs of the animals entrusted to their care, animal control

          officers step in. This session will focus on the investigation and response to

          rescues gone awry. 


Based out of Daytona Beach, Florida, Adam Leath is the Director of Volusia County Animal Services. He investigates and responds to situations involving animal victims of natural disasters and animal cruelty cases in Volusia County.  Leath was formerly a Regional Director of the Field Investigations and Response Team at the ASPCA where he led one of the largest operations in ASPCA history with the seizure of over 1,000 animals in August of 2016. Leath has responded to multiple dog fighting operations throughout his time at the ASPCA, including the second largest dog fighting bust in U.S. history in 2013, resulting in the seizure of more than 400 dogs.

Leath holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee and a Graduate Certificate in Veterinary Forensic Science from the University of Florida. He is a courtesy Assistant Professor for the Department of Comparative, Diagnostic, and Population Medicine at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.  He is a Director on the Board of Directors and Treasurer for the National Animal Care and Control Association. Leath is a Past President of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association and is a Certified National Animal Cruelty Investigator through the University of Missouri. He has also been certified in Equine Cruelty Investigation through the University of Colorado. Leath has been certified as an expert witness in animal fighting and animal cruelty in the states of Florida and New York.

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Georgia Capitol Solutions, Inc.
Time: Friday, October 28th VIRTUAL

Topic: Legislative update and How to pass laws in Georgia

Andy Lord is the principal partner of Georgia Capitol Solutions (GCS), a lobbying, public relations and grassroots development firm. GCS was established in 2006 and has represented over 40 non-profit entities in the state of Georgia.


Andy has worked as a lobbyist for the United States Humane Society, ASPCA and is now with the Georgia Pet Coalition. Specifically, he has worked to advance the animal protection agenda on issues such as cost of animal care, while also stopping legislation detrimental to the cause, such as the advancement of Petland.


Chief Executive Officer, Athens Humane Society
Time: Saturday, October 22, 3:30pm - 4:30pm

Topic: Next-Level Fundraising Strategies for Small-to-Mid-Sized Animal Shelters:  Strategies From 'Big Dog' Institutions.

Dr. McCormick is the CEO of the Athens Area Humane Society. She is also the Founder of Ascend Nonprofit Consulting & Executive Coaching, providing. fundraising services, strategic planning, and board training to small and mid-sized nonprofits. She has served as Executive Director of several California-based organizations, including AIM Youth Mental Health (Carmel), Lindsay Wildlife Experience (Walnut Creek), YWCA Monterey County (Salinas), and the American Cetacean Society (Los Angeles).


She also served as Director of Conservation at the Santa Lucia Conservancy (Carmel).  Dr. McCormick received a BA in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, her MA in Geography (GIS & Remote Sensing) from the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from the Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia. In 2017, she received an appointment as Visiting Researcher/ Scholar at the Center for Geospatial Research at the University of Georgia, directing graduate research investigating impacts of large-scale dam projects on flora, fauna, and indigenous peoples of the Loreto Region of the Peruvian Amazon. Dr. McCormick is a co-author of Identification and Biology of Nonnative Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas (2nd edition), and has published numerous literature reviews, statewide invasive species management plans and research articles. She has served on several conversation-based nonprofit boards.  She and her husband, Bryant Austin, live with two cats, Fellini McBiten-O’Fightin and Biscuits.




Director of Marketing and Development, Thomasville Humane Society
Time: Saturday, October 22, 10:10am-11:50am

Topic: Marketing Dogs: Large, small and everything in between.  How marketing saves lives and why marketing is important.

Graduating in the middle of the pandemic during 2020 from Toccoa Falls College with a bachelors in business administration made life interesting entering the job market. I started off serving my community working my way up at a local Chick-fil-A, where I had plans to stay, but ran into some family health problems that led me back home for a short period of time. Then worked as a production assistant and social media manager for East2West Media. This led me to where I am now at Thomasville Humane working as the marketing and development director.



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Director, Cruelty Investigation Division, Atlanta Humane Society
Time: Saturday, October 22, 8:00am-9:40am

Topic: Multi-animal Cases; Prepping before you go in, management of the crime scene, triage, delegating on scene, capturing and organizing evidence, collateral agencies, movement of animals, vetting, follow up with agencies, prosecutor and resources

Mike Perkins is the director of the Cruelty Investigation Division for the Atlanta Humane Society.   He consults and assists law enforcement and animal control in addressing calls regarding animal abuse and neglect throughout Georgia.  He also assists in educating law enforcement, animal control, veterinarians, vet techs, prosecutors and judges on cases involving animal abuse.  

Mike is a former police officer, canine handler, and trainer, who retired from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department after a 23-year career.  Mike is also a Master Trainer for the North American Police Work Dog Association, where he regularly trains and certifies K9 teams from across the United States.  He was the past director for the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Task Force supervising animal investigations, rescues, and disaster response.  He has 19 years of animal welfare, rescue, investigation, and disaster response experience.



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Senior Assistant District Attorney, Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit
Time: Friday, October 21, 3:30pm-4:30pm 

Topic: Animal Cruelty Statute, Report writing - Georgia’s Title IV Provisions

           (impounds, hearings, search warrants vs. inspection warrants)

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.



Program Manager, Companion Animal/Equine Section, GA Dept. of Agriculture
Time: Saturday, October 22, 1:20pm-3:00am 

Topic: What A Good Shelter Looks Like: Parameters that make up a good animal shelter.

Jason began his career with the Georgia Department of Agriculture in November 2014. He quickly learned his position as inspector and was promoted to Senior Inspector in March 2016. In September 2019, Jason was promoted to Deputy Manager of the Companion Animal/Equine Program. In April 2022, Jason was promoted to the Program Manager. In addition to these responsibilities, he participates in many special projects and investigations, conducts GDA presentations, and serves on the GDA Incident Management Team as Deputy Operations Chief. Jason’s background is in law enforcement and animal control. He was formerly the Animal Care and Control Director in Habersham County, Ga, where he currently resides. Jason holds an Associate Degree in Business Administration from North Georgia Technical College. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, in 2019, from Shorter University. 



Lieutenant Polk School District Police Departmen
Time: Friday, October 21, 9:35pm-11:15am 

Topic: Dog Fighting, How to notice a dog fighting ring, investigating, prosecuting and more

Josh is currently a Lieutenant at the Polk School District Police Department.  He was a Patrolman/Detective/Sergeant K9 Polk County Police Department from 2011-2021 and was a  

Detective from 2013-2019. Josh is also a GA POST Instructor and Field Training Officer.  He got his Bachelor's Degree from Liberty University in Criminal Justice, over 2,300 hours of specialized training through GA POST and various Federal Agencies.



Retired Atlanta Police Department
Time: October 28th - VIRTUAL

Topic: What is Proper Shelter and How to Prosecute Those Crimes with Claudine Wilkins and Paul Epps

Retired Atlanta Police Officer Amy E. Soeldner joined the Department in 1995. Early in her career she realized she had a passion for pursuing animal cruelty crimes. Over her years on patrol she realized that police officers were not prosecuting or investigating perpetrators of animal cruelty. There had never been any training offered on these types of crimes. Officers did not know that there was a proven correlation between animal related crimes and the propensity for human violence. She became instructor certified and developed a training program called “ Law Enforcement and Animal Encounters” which was mandated for the entire Atlanta Police Department. The training was also attended by officers from multiple agencies across the metro Atlanta area.  Retired Officer Soeldner was appointed the department’s first ever animal cruelty liaison heading a brand new Unit entitled “Animal Cruelty Enforcement and Prevention” or A.C.E.P. Before her retirement in 2019 she was able to help draft the first Standard Operating Procedure for the Animal Cruelty Unit. There are now two full time Atlanta Police Officers devoted solely to the pursuit, investigation, and prosecution of animal related crimes in the city of Atlanta. Retired Officer Soeldner still teaches the course to all new recruits at the academy.



National Shelter Support Manager, Best Friends

Time: 9:35am-11:15am

Topic: Community Cat Complaint Mitigation – this is targeted to ACOs and shelter workers who deal with the public complaining about community cats.TBD

Nick Walton is the national shelter support manager for Best Friends Animal Society, providing leadership and training for strategic shelter partners across the country. Through Best Friends’ municipal and shelter support program, Nick conducts professional shelter operations and field assessments, and leads progressive, humane trainings for animal control agencies and officers.  

Prior to joining Best Friends and serving as the behavior and training coordinator for the Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Atlanta, Nick was an animal control officer and cruelty investigator for Fulton County Animal Services through LifeLine Animal Project. Through this work, he served as Fulton County’s primary field training officer, providing professional training and development to new officers and cultivating a community-oriented approach to animal services in order to help Atlanta become a no-kill city.  


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