Service Dog Trainers & Staff
Dan Warren, Founder
Dan Warren Founder and President of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. He believes that individuals, who struggle with invisible disabilities often will benefit from having a canine companion in their lives to enhance a quality of life, provide hope, independence, and peace of mind. It is Dan’s personal goal to bring hope and peace until a cure is found for these disabilities and does believe until there is a cure – there is a dog.
Lucinda Williams, Development Director
As Development Director for SDWR, Lucinda Williams has over two decades of nonprofit management experience. She has served as the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Delaware, Director of Development for the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, Executive Director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Executive Director of the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, and Vice President of Artistic, Education and Community Outreach with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
During her two-plus decades of nonprofit management, Lucinda has raised over $15 million dollars to support the various organizations for which she has worked. Lucinda lives in Gilmanton, NH, with her husband, retired Army Colonel, Richard Nowak. Richard served as a Special Forces Green Beret for 26 years. Lucinda is the grandmother of Lucien Gautreaux who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 18 months. Lucien, now 6, is the proud “boy” of his Diabetic Alert Service Dog, Shadow.
, Outreach Coordinator
Our Community Outreach Director is Brenda Clements. As a former nurse and clinical research coordinator, Brenda has a unique understanding of the medical issues that our clients face. As a former award-winning journalist, she loves bringing our story to the community and enjoys forming relationships with businesses, agencies, and organizations that will help us bring awareness and advocacy. She has worked at SDWR in the past as a puppy trainer and as Client Services Director before taking a leave of absence to deal with the terminal illness of her father.
“I am excited to be back at this amazing organization in this role. What a privilege it is to represent this organization to the community,” Brenda said.
Brenda and her husband are dogs and animal lovers who share their home with 2 Labs, a Deutch Drahthaar, a Basset Hound, 2 cats, 3 goats, 3 turkeys and 10 chickens. They have 4 sons, 3 daughter-in-laws, and two beautiful granddaughters.
, Executive Assistant to the President
My name is Sarah Gibson I came to SDWR in early October of 2015, I am 26 years old and a single mother of two. I have spent most of my Working / Personal life in the world of Equine , Horses have always been my passion as well as my comfort zone. I am a huge animal person and always have been, Dogs are a big part of my life and I have always looked at mine as a family rather than a pet. On October 15 when I made the decision to start a new chapter in my life I found SDWR or even better they found me, I knew then that this was the place for me! I have never worked for an Organization like this one, These are not just employers to me they are a new found family that I never knew I had. They have given my children and myself love and opportunities that I would have never thought were possible! I am honored to call myself a part of the SDWR team!
, Training Director
In 2001, Cheri began her career in the Department of Corrections. Beginning 2005, she became a Narcotics Canine Handler, where her duties included searching cells for narcotics in multiple correctional facilities, as well as inmates, visitors and employees of the Virginia Department of Corrections.
In 2007, Cheri’s experience in dog training strengthened, when her career as a Narcotics Canine Handler Instructor began. She participated in the Narcotics Canine Handler Schools teaching new Handlers and their dogs on how to do searches as well as training the dogs on how to locate Narcotics.
After years of working alongside canine training, Cheri finally joined SDWR, starting off training puppies at the facilities. She described her duties,
“[Training puppies] included Socializing them, teaching them sit, down, stay, come and proper leash walking. I then progressed to delivering the puppies into the homes of our clients. I have been delivering and training Diabetic Alert Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs, and Autism Service Dogs. I am currently the Training Director for SDWR. During my time with SDWR I have trained over 300 very successful Service Dogs.”
Cheri has also helped to supply dogs for the local Police Departments as well as USDA.
, Senior Trainer
Phil has been a trainer for over eight years. Phil’s father, grandfather and grandmother were diabetics, so he is familiar with invisible disabilities. He was the District Trainer in Tidewater for PetSmart for 6 years. Phil trained and evaluated other trainers. Phil was introduced to Warren Retrievers through one of our families. Little did he know Riley-Anne was only the first Warren Retriever he would meet.
“I love making life easier for those with Diabetes through training D.A.D.s and their families. All of the staff is very knowledgeable. Trainers make visits to further training of dogs every 90 days and are not relegated to distance. There is no age limit to receive one of our dogs as with most other organizations. Constant contact is kept with our dog owners to ensure they have the assistance they need. Our dogs are guaranteed for 10 years. Great care is taken to make sure our clients receive a healthy dog. There isn’t an organization that cares more about our clients than we do.”
I have 2 dogs that I have had since they were 8 weeks old, a 7-year-old Rottweiler and a 7-year-old Bullmastiff. Both dogs have had extensive obedience training and both received their Canine Good Citizenship through the AKC and were registered Therapy Dogs with Therapy Dog International up till this current year when I retired them due to their ages. Also, I performed private obedience training with friends, family, and acquaintances. I started working at Petsmart in Norfolk, VA as a Pet Trainer for over a year. There I assisted families with basic obedience training as well as assisting several people with training their service dogs. After learning of the opportunity at Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers in 2012, I welcomed the opportunity to train dogs and help families at the same time. I have now worked with Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers for over 3.5 years and plan to continue for a long time which is why I am looking to relocate to this area. I have worked training dogs full time for the past 5.5 years and prior to that worked part time training dogs and worked full time in social work and counseling as I have my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
“My whole life I have loved dogs and enjoyed training them. Shortly after I graduated from West Virginia Canine College in 1992, I started Southwind Dog Training where I did a wide variety of dog training. This includes individual’s pets and dogs that lived in hospitals, hospice facilities and served as private therapy dogs.
Among my many accomplishments in dog training, I founded BARK (Bluegrass Animal Rescue of Kentucky) where I used rescue pets in therapy roles. And as an advocate for therapy dogs, I placed the first classroom dog in the state of Kentucky. I have also worked as a vet tech for many years and spent quite a bit of time at PetSmart as one of their in-house dog trainers. I believe in the power of training dogs to heal lives and I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to help you with your Service Dog from SDWR.”
, Kennel Master/Director
“I was born and raised in Bristol, VA. I joined the Air Force 2 months after graduating high school in 2009 to help many others that took an oath to protect and serve this country and had the time of my life. 4 of the 6 years that I was enlisted, I served in the Presidential Honor Guard as a pallbearer for military funerals at Arlington Nation Cemetery. Also, I served at award ceremonies, retirement ceremonies, and wreath layings at the tomb of an unknown soldier. My last 2 years in the military, I worked in the Military Police and served on the security side of base activities. From doing basic patrols of the base and flight line for security, I advanced and became a K9 handler and volunteer kennel master for my home base. When I completed my 6 years with the military, I had a very hard transition until my prayers were answered and I found a job where I could work with dogs, but no longer be working security. I have been blessed with an amazing career opportunity that I am progressing in every day while training service dogs for individuals with invisible disabilities such as Epilepsy, Diabetes, Autism, and PTSD. I have been on my own since I was 19 years old, and taking the next step in my life is having a place to live without the hassle of loud noises or lack of privacy. I am a very hardworking man who does anything necessary to get the job done at all times.”- Jeremy
David Cope, Facilities Trainer
“I graduated from Amelia County High School and am newly employed as a Service Dog Trainer at Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. I am moving from Amelia County to Madison area to be closer to my job and no longer have a 2-hour commute in the mornings and evenings. Since starting my job working with service dogs, I have progressed and learned a lot. I plan to continue with this amazing organization and continue to grow as a service dog trainer because I enjoy my job and am working daily to help people with invisible disabilities have a longer, happier and healthier life. “- David
, Facilities Trainer
“My name is Isabella and I am a student at Grand Canyon University working on my Justice Studies degree and also a member of the SDWR team. Being born and raised in Florida gave me lots of experience being around different types of animals but dogs have been a great passion of mine since I had my first puppy at four years old. I have never worked for an organization quite like this where everyone is not only looking out for themselves but EVERYONE is looking out for each other. Working with everyone been a great experience and SDWR has given me a reason to push forward with my goals. Grand Canyon University has taught me that until you love what you’re doing you have not found your purpose and I believe SDWR has shown me mine.- Isabella
, Facilities Trainer / Kennel Staff
“My name is Emily Meszaros and I’m 16 years old. I absolutely love animals and cannot see a future without them. I own one horse and two dogs which I have trained myself. I started questioning what direction I should take with my life? That’s when I discovered SDWR’s Puppy Raiser Program. I thought it would be a great step in the direction of deciding whether this would be something to make a career. I filled out an application and received my first puppy within a couple weeks. I really enjoyed the experience of being a puppy raiser and it’s taught me so much. Through the Puppy Raiser Program, I discovered that they were hiring and jumped at the opportunity. I started working for SDWR in March of 2016 and am loving every minute of it. I work full time in the summer and half time throughout the school year due to my schooling. I am so lucky to be working for a great organization and with great people! I hope to continue working with SDWR as a future career. Being a member of the Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers family has benefitted me by changing my life in immeasurable ways.”- Emily
, Facilities Trainer / Kennel Staff
During the school year, I work for SDWR part time and full time during the summer. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Management which I used in several barns and on a daily basis with my own two horses. Working here with the SDWR team has been a wonderful opportunity for me and my son, Cole, who is pictured with me. Cole is eight years old. He has enjoyed being with the dogs and helping in any way he can. Since being here, I have learned a great deal from not only the dogs but most importantly the people I work with. They say you can learn something new every day, I find that to be very true.
, Puppy Raiser Coordinator & Volunteer Recruiter
“As a recent Virginia Tech grad, I am very excited to be a part of the SDWR team. I have always been passionate about helping others and have always wanted to work with animals, so I think I found the perfect combination here at SDWR. My mother and my sister are both special education teachers, so through them, I have seen what it is like to work with someone with a disability. I truly believe that dogs are great companions and it is an honor to work with such an amazing organization.”
SDWR Chapter Managers
, North Alabama Chapter Manager
My name is April Reno I am 38 years old and the mom of two children with type one diabetes. I was a substitute teacher for two years where I worked with special needs children. I am a very active supporter of the Daring To Defeat Diabetes organization. I started my journey with SDWR in May 2014, when I decided to receive a DAD (diabetic alert dog) for my children. I am currently North Alabama Chapter Manager. My children and I are proud owners of Miracle our diabetic alert dog. My favorite part of working with SDWR is meeting other families with invisible disabilities. I love hearing their stories and I am always ready to share mine.
Michelle Hyman,Southern California Chapter Manager
I am Michelle Hyman. I have owned dogs all of my life and I love helping people! I have had my own Diabetic Alert Dog, SaveHer, for over four years. I live in the Southern California region.
, Kentucky Chapter Manager
Tracy Stakely began her career in the field of Social Work as a Case Manager and Therapist to the chronically mentally ill at her community’s mental health facility for 20 years. It wasn’t until her daughter’s diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes in 2008 did things change for her. She found SDWR after researching ways to help maintain her daughter’s new diagnosis and shortly thereafter obtained a Diabetic Alert Dog for her daughter. “I was amazed at these dogs and the life-saving abilities they possess. I knew I had to be a part of this organization.” She began working for SDWR in 2013 in support services and joined the Chapter Manager team shortly afterward. “I love seeing how these dogs change lives! I know what our Diabetic Alert Dog has done for my family and am excited to see how they can improve the lives of others as well.” Being a Chapter Manager for Tracy helps provide support to other families in KY who are also seeking a Service Dog. “My family grew immensely when I joined the SDWR team!”
Ben & Cat Dykhouse
, Michigan Chapter Managers
My husband Ben & I started our journey with S.D.W.R in April 2013 when we signed on to receive a Diabetic Alert Dog for Ben; who was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 12. After hours of research, and searching for the right organization to get a D.A.D from we decided upon S.D.W.R due to our initial conversation with Dan, his enthusiasm and passion for the cause were contagious. Since then, we received Max – Ben’s D.A.D, been training non-stop, and have had the pleasure and blessing of being amazed each and every day by his abilities. Ben’s bond with Max is such a beautiful gift to our family, we simply cannot imagine our life without him.
In October 2015 we were excited to announce to our family and friends that we were given an opportunity to share in our passion for S.D.W.R by becoming Michigan Chapter Managers of this wonderful organization! We believe as Dan does that “Until there is a cure, there is a Dog”. We have witnessed firsthand the life saving and life giving a gift that a service dog has to offer and are very excited, blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to walk beside families as they start on the same journey we did in 2013 and advocate for such a stellar organization as S.D.W.R.
, Central California Chapter Manager
My name is Patti Kasper. I live in Central California. I have a BA in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA, an MA in Professional Psychology from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA and two Masters from Messianic Bible Institute in Hampton, Virginia, one in Messianic Studies and one in Rabbinic Studies.
I have worked as a social worker for visually impaired individuals, a drug and alcohol counselor in both inpatient and outpatient settings, a therapist in private practice, a therapist in an adult in-patient hospital in Canonsburg, PA and Clinical Director of that unit, a therapist in a child/adolescent psychiatric hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a social worker for a non-profit foster care agency in California and an adoption home study writer for that same agency.
I became involved with Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers in 2012 to obtain my diabetic alert dog, who has placed with me that October. I have been partnered with my service dog for 3-1/2 years and she has saved my life no less than 38 times since June 2013, when I began documenting her “critical saves.”
I am also a Board Member of Central California Type One Diabetes Foundation and am active in the local Type One community, raising awareness and advocating for blood or urine testing to rule out Type One when flu symptoms present in clinics and emergency rooms.
Chris and Carrie Chastain
, Oklahoma Chapter Manager
Chris and Carrie Chastain live in Enid, OK with their two children Tripp (5) and Quinn(3). Jake joined the family in January 2016 to serve as an autism service dog for Tripp who was diagnosed at age 4 with autism. Jake and the team from SDWR made such a positive impact on the entire family’s lifestyle that they jumped on board as chapter managers for the Oklahoma area.
, Missouri Chapter Manager
“I have been a diabetic for since 2000 and was able to live independently until a few years ago. I had a very hard decision to make, quit teaching after 28 years and move to live with my parents or find a solution to help me stay independent. After much research and medical intervention, I decided to get a diabetic alert dog. The year before Vidal came into my life I had been hospitalized more than 15 times. Since Vidal, I have only had one medical emergency. Vidal has allowed me to be more independent and my parents know that Vidal will be by my side to keep me safe.” -Lori
, Missouri Chapter Manager
In May of 2011, our world changed forever when our son Nathaniel, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Being an over-protective mom I started researching ways to help him manage his diabetes and keep our sanity. After several searches and many phone calls to different places I decided to make the call to SDWR. I was terrified of making the call as I had already experienced disappointing calls but from the moment Dan answered the phone my fears were put to rest and I knew that this man and this company had true compassion and understood what we as a family were going through. We signed up the next day and started fundraising for our miracle with 4 paws. In September of 2011 our wonder dog, Malachi arrives at our home and alerted to a low with in 15 mins. now years laterNathaniel has been diagnosed with several medical problems including Autism and Sensory Processing to Central Nervous Tremors. I never dreamed that Malachi would help in these areas of Nathaniel’s life but he has. From turning on the lights to calming him when he can no longer process the world around him. Malachi has proven himself time and time again, the same goes for Dan he total stands behind his word and has gone above and beyond when we needed him. Being a Chapter Manager for Tennessee means not only do I get to tell more people about how wonderful Malachi is but how I can help them get the miracle dog they so desperately need. Who wouldn’t want to help other parents feel the same relief that we feel every night when we close our eyes. Becoming an SDWR family member was the happiest thing diabetes ever gave to us.
, ArkansasChapter Manager
We love our DAD Noodle. He is apart of our family. Our daughter Raylee was diagnosed November 11,2014 T1D. Our lives changed dramatically. We were scared confused sad angry and many more emotions. But with time and support, we found SDWR and they have been a life saver and now family
Kami Brown, Eastern Virginia Chapter Manager
My name is Kami Brown. I am a teacher in Chesapeake Public Schools. I have been teaching for 17 years. We have a diabetic alert dog named Rylie Ann. My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008 when she was 3 years old. Rylie Ann joined our family in September 2011. We spent years searching for the right company that we felt comfortable getting a service dog from before we found SDWR. We got so much more than a service dog to help our daughter. With SDWR, we got a family which provides unending friendships and support
Markeeta Gillenwater, South West Virginia Chapter Manager
“I have been married to Jason for 8 years, with two children Carter, 6 and Erin, 4. I am a kindergarten teacher. I have a graduate certificate in autism intervention. We received our service dog Happy in April 2015. He is an autism service dog for my son Carter. He helps with meltdowns, elopement, and speech! We live on a farm in southwest VA. We enjoy trips to Dollywood and Asheville. I also enjoy running and Happy makes a great running partner! “