Our Team

Cathy King, Executive Director

Cathy King: Executive Director

Cathy started the CWAC program while working as Executive Director at Friends of Animals, Utah. After spending many years working in animal welfare and rescue, the importance of companion animals and healing effects they had on their people was undeniable, especially for those dealing with trauma. One of Cathy's sustaining goal is to help eradicate the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals and find them loving homes helping their human counterparts along the way.

Chloe-Utah Staff Member

Chloe Chinchilla: Dog Trainer and Utah Program Manager

Chloe joined the CWAC team in 2018, after her love of dogs, the mountains, and following her gut led her to Salt Lake, a city she had never never even visited before moving. As it turns out, she just happened to land her dream job with Canines with a Cause and has been part of the team ever since. Chloe's favorite part of working with CWAC is witnessing the growth, courage, and strength of both rescue dogs and veterans alike. When not working, Chloe and her small rescue pup spend as much time as they can exploring everything the Mountain West lifestyle has to offer.

Rhoda Stauffer: Superstar Volunteer

Rhoda is helping CWAC on organizational development matters as well as writing grant proposals. She has 25 years of experience in working with nonprofit organizations and is passionate about animal rescue. Rhoda is very happy to support CWAC and their work to rescue dogs, by assisting veterans and inmates.

Mary Ellen: Superstar Volunteer

Mary Ellen Hunter has volunteered for CWAC since it started in 2010. She has worked on many projects over the years. She has hiked with the dogs and taken them on trains, buses and elevators for training. She has worked with veterans and their dogs in training classes which is very rewarding and does special events as needed. Mary Ellen is currently very involved with the prison program which started in 2015. She spends time weekly at the prison training with the inmates and dogs that they live with.

Brie, Foster and Adoption Coordinator

Brie: Adoption and Foster Coordinator

Brie has been training dogs with Canines with a Cause since 2016. "Training with the CWAC is just that, 'with' CWAC, we are a team. CWAC came into my life at a pretty low point and was a huge part of helping me get things back on track." Now Brie is a part of helping dogs and Veterans keep or get their lives moving in a positive, helpful way. She is now an AKC certified trainer, an APDT member. With these certifications and involvements, she enjoys learning new skills to help any and all canines and Veterans.

JD Milne (Southern Utah): Training Buddy Program Manager

Military Service: US Marine Corps - Reconnaissance Marine, Camp Pendleton, CA Platoon Sergeant with 1st Recon Battalion, planning and coordination skills 07/2003 to 07/2007 required for the daily training and management of up to 150 Marines. JD trained his service dog Baulder in the CWAC program, they graduated in 2019. He since has been training under CWAC trainers and will soon be taking over Foundation and Beginner classes for the CWAC Southern Utah program.

Kirsten: Team Coach and CWAC Development

Kirsten is an advocate for the unique and incredible human being within each one of us. She helps us grow as individuals and as a team; learning to get out of our comfort zones/ build our skill sets so we can get better and better at what we do and are co-creating here at CWAC with our Veterans, inmates and dogs. She has a deep love and appreciation for our Veterans as one of the most important humans in her life served in WWII - her Grandfather. He lost his youngest brother to the war, arrived at Normandy on Day 2, was a purple heart recipient and could only share small bits of his experience with his family until the day he died at 92 years of age. The profound pain he held didn’t go unnoticed by her. She grew up at the VFW, surrounded by heroes and is passionate about giving back all she can to this community she's received so much from. Any ideas, hopes, dreams you have for how CWAC might better serve our community? Please share them with Kirsten so she can incorporate your insight into the development of CWAC.

Seamus Cashin (Nevada Program): Dog Trainer and Service Dog Program Manager

After college Seamus moved to California to pursue a career training assistance dogs and earned his Assistance Dog Instructor credentials. While training assistance dogs Seamus not only got to develop his skills as a trained but he also got to witness how the human-canine bond saves lives. As his career progressed, Seamus started to seek out other opportunities to increase his knowledge in training and canine behavior. He started working with a local rescue group which gave him the opportunity to work with different breeds, temperaments and behaviors. He also volunteered with a police K9 unit where he participated in apprehension training as a decoy as well as search and rescue and drug detection training.

Michelle Lopez (Nevada Program): Community and Media Manager

Michelle graduated from the University of Nevada in 2018 with a Bachelors in Human Development and Family Studies. Michelle assists with marketing efforts, website development, fundraising opportunities, obtaining and retaining volunteers, finance reports for Nevada and more. Michelle's favorite part of the job is participating in class and seeing our veterans achieve their goals!

RItichie-CWAC Staff Member

Richie Alaniz (Idaho Program): Trainer

Richie Alaniz is CWAC’s primary trainer for Northern Idaho/Spokane and surrounding areas. He is the founder of Faithful K9 Trainer, completed a 4000-hour training apprenticeship through Dept. Of Labor (Office management and Business Administration services) and has trained dogs for over 3 years with the P.A.W.S. Program, training dogs for Canines With A Cause. Richie is a certified AKC CGC Evaluator.

Joe-CWAC staff member

Joe Smiley (Idaho Program): Trainer

Joe is the owner BDE Dog Training LLC, his team in Boise, ID has helped many people give second chances to their furry family members for over 7 years. “At BDE Dog Training, not only do I assist in training dogs, I also teach the necessary skills to their owners to maintain obedience skills taught and help both owners and pets become successful. Positive Reinforcement is key when it comes to training, as is repetition. “I love CWAC and everything for which this organization stands. My involvement in CWAC has been very rewarding because I have seen many wonderful dogs go to help our veterans who sacrificed their lives for our country. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of CWAC and to be the dog trainer that I am today."