Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence Staff

Assistance Dogs for Independence helps children and adults with disabilities achieve greater independence by training and placing service and therapy dogs to assist with the individual’s daily needs. Assistance Dogs has helped transform the lives of over 150 individuals and their communities.

Kimberley ArnettDirector of Community Services

After graduating from Eastern Michigan University in 1996, Kim began her career as an Activities Director in a nursing home and, later, in a community setting for people living with Alzheimer’s. During her first four years of work experience she learned one thing: a nursing home is not, and never will be, a place to call home!

In January of 2001, she began her journey at The Ability Center as the Youth Services Coordinator. From day one, Kim experienced the “AH-HA!” feeling we all search for in our careers, and she knew this is where she belonged. Over the years she has worn many hats, dabbling in a little bit of everything the center has to offer. In 2005, she settled into her current position of Director of Community Services.

Kim’s current role at ACT includes being the sounding board for all programs. She provides support to both ACT staff and the consumers we serve to ensure that things run smoothly and that our mission is on track.

Jenny Barlos – Client Services Manager 

DSC_6070Jenny joined Assistance Dogs as the Client Services Coordinator in August, 2007. She is responsible for interviewing potential clients, organizing and facilitating team training and graduate activities, graduate follow up visits, certifications, and re-certifications. Jenny’s background includes working with animals, as well as working in education and government. She came to Assistance Dogs after working as the Clinic Director for Humane Ohio, a low cost spay/neuter clinic.
Previously, Jenny was the director of the Northwest ABLE Resource Center and also an instructor with at-risk teens and adults for the Lucas County Educational Service Center, Owens Community College and Penta Career Center. Many of her students included individuals with a variety of disabilities. In January 2016, she retired from Maumee City Council after 22 years of public service. She is a member of the Maumee Chamber of Commerce, the Zonta Club of Toledo, is on the Occupational Therapy Curriculum and Fieldwork Advisory Committee, and is on the board of the Friends of the Library. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Bowling Green State University. Jenny and her husband, Harry, live in Maumee with their two sons, Michael and Graham, their dog, Joey (a fabulous flunky) and two cats. Her hobbies include watching movies, traveling, running 5K’s and spending time with family and friends.

Anna JonesTraining/Kennel Manager

Website 3Anna Jones, OTD, OTR/L and her husband, Tyler, moved to Toledo in 2012 when Anna was accepted into the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program at The University of Toledo. In the spring of 2015, Anna completed her Capstone Experience with ADAI as the final component of her doctoral degree. During this experience, she spent four months exploring the potential role of occupational therapists in the provision of assistance dogs for individuals with disabilities.

After graduating, Anna began working as a licensed and registered occupational therapist at several skilled nursing facilities in the Toledo area and teaching in the OTD program at The University of Toledo as a member of the adjunct faculty. Anna also stayed involved with ADAI through fostering a dog-in-training and volunteering her occupational therapy skills during team training and consumer consultations.

In the summer of 2016, Anna began working as ADAI’s Training and Kennel Manager. It is a position that brings her great joy and fulfillment as it allows her to combine two of her passions: serving others and working with animals.

Vera ArnoldPrison Puppy Coordinator

vera-arnoldVera and her husband, Dave, live just outside of Bowling Green, Ohio. Her background in dogs goes back almost 30 years. She was an instructor at a dog training facility in the Toledo area for almost 20 years. Vera loves training her dogs and helping other people build a strong relationship with their own dogs. Vera shows her dogs in conformation, obedience, agility and water. Her first dog was a Cairn Terrier followed a Bichon Frise, Portuguese Water Dog and a Lab mix.

She enjoys doing some therapy work with several of her dogs. Vera and Dave currently live with three Portuguese Water Dogs and one Lab mix. In 2008, Vera and Dave bred their first litter of Portuguese Water Dogs. Vera takes breeding very seriously, from completing all the health requirements to finding a stud that she feels not only has the temperament to pass on but whose pedigree is also going to help produce healthy puppies. Vera joined ADAI in 2010 as the Prison Coordinator and has been the most rewarding experience of her life.

Judy EckelTrainer

judy-eckel-051512Judy Eckel is a native of northwest Ohio. She attended BGSU, graduated with a BSN and worked as an RN for 31 years at the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly known as the Medical College of Ohio. Judy began volunteering for Assistance Dogs in 1998 as a foster.

She, along with her husband Ted and daughters Beth and Kristen have fostered 21 dogs for the organization. Judy and Ted live in Maumee with Blake, an Assistance Dogs fabulous flunky. In her leisure time, Judy enjoys reading, biking, gardening, and scrap-booking.

 Jordan Wolff Client Services Coordinator

DSC_6085Jordan has been involved with The Ability Center since the summer of 2009, working as a camp counselor for Camp Cricket. In college, she was a part of The Ability Center’s Mentor Program for two years. Jordan also has two years of experience working at Wood Lane Residential Services; working as a Residential Aide for consumers with developmental disabilities. It was a job that she loved.

After graduating from Bowling Green State University, Jordan learned of the position as Program Assistant for ADAI. She was very excited for the opportunity to not only work with individuals with disabilities, but also with dogs. She has owned and loved dogs her entire life. Jordan has also owned several horses, and has about eight years of experience working with young consumers in a hippotherapy program sponsored by Mercy Children’s Hospital.

Her current role at ADAI includes interviewing our potential clients, different kinds of follow up, certifications, and coordinating pet home adoptions for the dogs that are released from our program. Jordan shares, “It is so rewarding to experience the amazing impact that our dogs have on peoples’ lives, and I am so happy to be a part of it.”

Tina Calhoun Puppy Raiser Coordinator

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 3.00.42 PMTina took pictures at her dad’s ADAI team training class in April 2012 and knew it would be great memories for him and his classmates. She did such a great job, she was invited back to take pictures of the next class, and eventually became a part of team training. Volunteering for three years helped Tina to learn more about ADAI. She has an Elementary Teaching degree from the University of Toledo and she loves photography! Tina shares, “Getting to take pictures of the dogs and puppies is an exciting part of my job.”

Quincy, her dad’s ADAI dog, is a great addition to the family and Tina thought, saying “Thank You” just didn’t seem like enough. She began “Pasta For Pooches” spaghetti dinner for ADAI in 2013. In the first three years of doing Pasta For Pooches they have raised just over $30,000.

Tina and her husband Bill have two Chocolate Labs, Kodiak and Murray. Tina has also become a foster to Izzo for ADAI since becoming an ADAI employee.

Carrie Smith – Dog Acquisition and Logistics Coordinator

Carrie Smith

Carrie, her husband Chris and her 3 boys, have been Toledo natives for almost 20 years.  Before coming to ADAI in October of 2016, Carrie worked as a Veterinary Pharmaceutical Sales rep in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.  Carrie has also been an avid dog lover and trainer for many years.  She has helped many owners better communicate with their puppies and dogs over the years. Carrie has also shown her own dogs is Agility and Conformation.

Carrie has a wonderful group of British Labradors that she breeds and trains.  Breeding and whelping puppies in the most enriched and advanced way possible has always been a passion of Carrie’s.  Delving into the genetics of dog lineage and filtering through behavioral data is something she truly loves.  Collaborating with ADAI staff and other Service Dog schools has been a dream come true for Carrie.



 Shelley Wanner – Volunteer School Therapy Dog Coordinator

shelly-wanner-051512In January 2005, Shelley Wanner’s life dramatically changed when Bryan Middle School in Ohio received the first school-owned therapy dog, Allie, from Assistance Dogs of America, Inc. From that moment on, she has immersed herself in finding ways to improve children’s lives through the use of school therapy dogs. She has presented this unique concept of helping children to many professionals in various settings throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. She has also traveled to California and Canada to share these ideas with others nationally and internationally.

Because of her passion for kids, animals, and Assistance Dogs, she is serving, on a volunteer basis, as the Assistance Dogs School Therapy Dog Program Coordinator in charge of networking with schools who already have school therapy dogs and those who are interested in obtaining one. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops,” a quote from Henry Brooks Adams, has always been at the heart of Shelley Wanner’s professional life.

Shelley retired in June of 2007 as a School Counselor at Bryan Middle School where she enjoyed working with middle school students since 1990. Previously, she was an English teacher and counselor at Archbold High School for 19 years. A native of Northwest Ohio, she graduated from Anthony Wayne High School and received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Bowling Green State University. Shelley lives in Bryan, Ohio, with her husband, Roger, and their present family of Tootsie Jane (black lab), and Jack, Jill, Mama Mia, and Katie (cats). She is an avid golfer, animal lover, and dog-walker!

 Penny MillerWhelping Assistant/Foster Recruiter

penny_millerPenny Miller, an Ohio State University graduate with a Masters in Agriculture Education, spent 29 years teaching Agriculture Education for Toledo Public Schools. The Agriculture Program in Animal Sciences provided students with hands-on, project based learning. Students were involved with breeding, raising, training, and grooming all kinds of small animals. Although the first animal she trained was a guinea pig, Penny acquired a Sheltie puppy named Kelsey from a student during her first year of teaching. That Sheltie was the beginning of a journey that eventually lead her to ADAI. Kelsey and Penny immediately went to training classes and obedience competitions so she could teach her students how to do the same. The students were then able to compete at obedience competitions held by the State FFA as well as County and State 4-H. In 1993, Penny took in a puppy from an unwanted litter and the concept of a class puppy was developed. For several years, the students helped raise class puppies that would be adopted out, including one for Leader Dogs for the Blind. Penny began volunteering as a foster for ADAI in 2010, incorporating her foster dogs into the class puppy concept and daily classroom activities. It was a win-win situation for the dogs and the students. In addition to their service dog training, the dogs were used to teach the students so many other skills in handling, restraint, medical procedures, grooming techniques, and even anatomy. Raising a service dogs was very special for the students. Penny retired from teaching in 2015. As luck would have it, her foster dog, Kinsey, was given the green light to become part of ADAI’s breeding program. Penny’s first year of retirement was spent raising 2 litters of service dog puppies. The following year ADAI employed her as Whelping Assistant/Foster Recruiter.

Penny lives in Sylvania, Ohio and has 2 daughters, 4 grandchildren, a cat named Maggie and an aquarium full of guppies and cherry shrimp. She enjoys gardening, camping, and traveling.

Kim HolmesTraining Specialist

badge photoKim grew up in Sylvania, Ohio. Her love of animals led her to a career in the veterinary field where she worked and managed Reynolds Road Animal Hospital for 33 years.  During that time she taught obedience classes for the Toledo Kennel Club, Karnik Inn and Pups & People. She eventually opened her own training facility called “A Breed Apart.”

In June of 2008, Kim and her close friend Melissa Voetsch started Agility Angels. This program uses the sport of dog agility to help individuals diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder develop social skills, physical abilities, and self-confidence. 

Kim has a daughter and son-in-law, two flat coated retrievers and an Irish Setter. She has shown in conformation, obedience, agility, field, nose work, and dock diving. Kim joined ADAI in the summer of 2017 as a Training Specialist. Training dogs to help others is a dream come true for her.