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Meet the Trainers

Evelia Rivera, Certified Professional Dog Trainer:

Evelia Rivera is also the owner/trainer with PAWsitive Approach, LLC. She worked at the Maritime Aquarium from 2006 to 2016 where she became a marine mammal trainer and worked with sea turtles, seals, meerkats, etc. She graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a bachelors degree. Many of her skills come from the need to learn and the need to benefit so others can equally benefit. She has developed many interpersonal skills with co-workers and shows excellence with animals. Moreover she has experience involving: volunteering at horse of Connecticut, past member of Beardsley Zoo chapter of American Association of zookeepers ( Past co- secretary) Therapy dog training since 2012, Behavior Coordinator at a local shelter  since 2016, a Canine good citizen evaluater since 2015, and a supporting member of IAABC. She has been a conference presenter twice at a International Marine Animal Trainer Association (IMATA) discussing sea turtle training as well as lionfish handling and conditioning. For fun she enjoys clicker training cats!

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut she knows the Fairfield and New Haven counties very well. She is a diplomat to hard work and her ethics are sound and deliberately strong. She is a creative thinker and a creative writer which adds to her amazing portfolio. In between she's a busy mother-of-two Ariel and Caleb and two fur babies Bruce and Koda.

Michelle McLeod, Certified Professional Dog Trainer:

Michele is a life-long animal lover. She found her dream home in Newtown, Connecticut in 2004 on a small farm. She moved there with her horses and a sweet Shih Tzu Cindy, but the family expanded rapidly to include a donkey, indoor and outdoor cats, and a remarkable German Shepherd Dog, Sirius (Black).

Sirius inspired her to study canine training extensively, to shadow trainer mentors, and eventually in 2015 to leave the medical profession to become a full time dog trainer.  She graduated with distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy, is a student of James French based in the UK, whose force-free strategies allow communication, respect and cooperation between and among species. She has completed Jan Fennell’s Amichien Bonding coursework through the graduate level and is currently enrolled in both the Clothier Animal Response Assessment Tool Level 1 and The Trust Technique course created by James French.  

She is certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CPDT-KA), is a member of the Pet Professional Guild, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. In addition to working with private clients, Michele trains rescue dogs who have behavioral problems and volunteers with several rescue organizations.  

Janis Copes, Certified Professional Dog Trainer:

Janis is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through Animal Behavior College. Her first exposure to obedience training was in 1986 with her Maltese, Tara, and she has continued to train all of her dogs in obedience since then. She currently has two rescue dogs, Sissy (Australian Cattle Dog mix) and Clark (Schnauzer mix).

Janis and Sissy are an AaTs Credentialed Therapy Team and work for AaTs in therapeutic settings with mentally and emotionally disabled children, teenagers and adults. Janis is a former AaTs Board member and Canine Committee Co-Chair. She has partnered with AaTs to board and train Emotional Support Dogs.

Janis is the owner of "Escape The Crate", LLC where she utilizes force free training to teach obedience cues, eliminate behavioral issues, and build trusting bonds between owners and their pets. Janis offers group classes and private in-home sessions.

In addition to her CPDT, Janis is an AKC licensed Canine Good Citizen instructor and evaluator, a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and the Pet Professional Guild.

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