A comprehensive behavior program, along with quality animal care standards, can increase adoptions and profoundly impact the well-being of the animals at your shelter and the humans caring for them.
This week we welcome Amanda Kowalski, the vice president of behavior programs for the San Diego Humane Society, to discuss addressing the mental health needs of animals in our care. We discuss the importance of these programs, tips to get started, challenges she has encountered, and more!
Amanda is San Diego Humane Society’s first vice president of Behavior Programs, leading our impact as a regional and national behavior and training resource. Amanda and her Behavior & Training team are entrusted with changing the lives of thousands of animals who need behavior intervention in order to become adoptable — or to stay with the families who love them.
Amanda is dedicated to the animals and has a passion for research, education and collaboration. She is known for loving “crazy ideas” as she encourages her team to innovate, be creative and think big. She is a huge source of support (and baked goods!) and always brings her best to the table, especially when her team needs her most. Amanda specialized in behavioral care in shelters for more than 13 years before taking on this role, including five years leading our Behavior Center, which has helped more than 4,000 shelter animals — who otherwise would have been out of options — since its beginning in 2013. She also played a crucial role in designing the new state-of-the-art Behavior Center facility, which opened in 2019 as the first of its kind in California.
Amanda is overseeing the expansion of our resources to treat more shelter animals, help other shelters and rescue organizations, expand our community training services, conduct applied behavior research, and develop and launch a Behavior Center Academy to train shelter behavior professionals both locally and nationally.
Amanda holds a master’s of science in animals and public policy from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. She is a certified animal welfare administrator (CAWA) through the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, a Fear Free-Certified Professional Trainer, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and the vice president of the board of directors for the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
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