Skip to content

2024 HRD Seminar Instructors


Is a seasoned veteran in the field of Search and Rescue, having dedicated over a decade of her life to the profession. She is an American Working Dog Association Evaluator (AWDA) for Search and Rescue. Chris has been training horses since she was a child, and the skills she learned while training horses naturally transitioned to K9 training. Her innate need to make a difference in the world can be seen in her work as an ICU Nurse for almost 20 years and became a natural extension into her role with Search and Rescue. She successfully handles Border Collies in HRD (Human Remains Detection) and Air Scent (Live Find Wilderness), as well as Bloodhounds in trailing. Additionally, she works with two German Shepherds in explosives detection. Chris has served on various SAR teams including CUE (Community United Effort) and enjoyed working as the K9 Director for Mark9 Search and Rescue in Dallas Texas for several years. Currently, she is the Director and Lead Trainer for Search and Rescue for Next Level K9 Texas where the mission is to evaluate and train K9 teams at the fundamental/instinctual level and provide individualized training based on the specific needs of each team. This ensures the proper foundation is laid to enhance their operational readiness in all disciplines. She recognizes a personalized approach to training, tailoring training methods and strategies to each individual team member. Chris’ philosophy can best be described as “We build on strengths and work on weaknesses”. This approach helps each K9 team reach its full potential while placing a special emphasis on foundational work.
Has 28 years of experience in the field of Search and Rescue with 26 of those in public service, as a Firefighter/Paramedic and Fire Officer. She was a Founding Member of FEMA Ohio Task Force One where she served as a Search Team Manager, Canine Coordinator and Canine Search Specialist when the team was in its infancy, helping to build the training program and current disaster site. She has also served as a Canine Search Specialist for FEMA California Task Force One and Indiana Task Force One, working both human remains detection and live find canines. Athena has deployed as a Canine asset with all three FEMA teams while she was a rostered member. She is the founder of K9 Karma, a canine training business, specializing in working canines and behavioral canine issues. For the past 20 years, she has traveled the country as an instructor, evaluator, and facilitator for search and rescue, as well as tactical medicine classes and workshops. Athena specializes in live find disaster search and wilderness, as well as human remains detection land and disaster. She has responded to countless disasters and missing person searches for local, state, and federal agencies. She has managed several large-scale local incidents as the Commanding Fire Officer operating in a Unified Command Structure. She frequently consults as a subject matter expert for large scale disaster training exercises, providing guidance in search strategy and planning and resource management. During her years as a disaster and fire service responder, Athena repeatedly saw that there was a lack of resources and training opportunities to fully prepare canine handlers and teams to manage canine injuries. She established BARK; Basic Aid to Responder K9 program, partnering with Tri-Med Tactical, providing training at the Ohio Fire Academy, Ohio Tactical Officer Association, IDHS as well as other organizations. This training ensures that teams with canines embedded in the disaster and tactical environment have access to basic, real world, hands on canine medical training.
The Director of K9 Training and a K9 handler with Search & Rescue of Central Florida and an explosive detection K9 (EDC) handler for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. She has been training, working, and certifying search and rescue/recovery dogs in multiple disciplines for nearly twenty years, and has been working in explosive detection for seven years. Throughout her detection career, she has certified with twelve different K9s under five nationally known organizations. She is currently certified with two human remains detection K9s and three explosive detection K9s.
Is the co-owner and head trainer of Cultured Canine Dog Training in Winston Salem, North Carolina. She has over 7 years of professional dog training experience. Annissia specializes in basic obedience and behavior modification. She is passionate about working with reactive dogs and dogs that may be difficult to train for the average owner. She also has experience in training other detection K9’s. In 2020, she trained a water leak dog named Puddles, to detect underground chlorinated water leaks for residential and commercial properties. This dog has saved homeowners thousands of dollars and was the second dog in the United States to be trained in this task. She was previously a member and K9 handler for Central Carolina K9 Search Team. Annissia joined the North Carolina Trooper’s Association K9 Unit as an HRD and live find K9 handler in 2022 and is now the Assistant Director of the Unit. Annissia started in Search and Rescue in 2018. She has previously certified her live find K9 Willow, and her currently certified HRD K9 Dahlia. Her experience as a professional dog trainer and Search and Rescue K9 handler allows her to provide important insight to other canine handlers.
Began training dogs in 1989 with her first German Shepherd, Chance. Judy has trained dogs for obedience, agility, tracking and search and rescue. She is a NASAR Evaluator and AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. Judy was a founding member of the Florida Search Dog Association, established in 1989, also the K9 Coordinator and handler for Williston Fire Rescue K9 Team, and has worked with multiple SAR teams and agencies, including North Florida Interagency Search Team. She has certified 5 personal K9’s throughout her career and is currently training her young Golden, Rhett. Her deployments include disaster, land, and water. Judy assists owners of family dogs train their pups to fit in their family and community. She offers group and private lessons throughout North Central Florida.
Is a K9 Deputy with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina. He and his dog Fiji are the only HRD K9 team on the department. In addition, Jack is the Director of the NC Trooper’s Association K9 Search and Recovery Unit. NCTA K9 provides HRD K9 services across the state of North Carolina. Prior to joining the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, Jack was a Sergeant with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, of which he retired in 2023. He started in Search and Rescue in 2001, joining the NC K9 Emergency Response Team under the leadership of Chief Morgan. He was a K9 handler, Side Scan Sonar operator and previously, served as the Assistant Chief of NC K9 ERT. In 2018, he started the NCTA K9 Search and Recovery Unit. Both teams now work together on many training projects along with K9 deployments. Jack has worked several dogs over the years, and his latest dog Fiji is both Land HRD and water HRD certified through the International Police Work Dog Association. He has 20 plus years of experience handling K9’s for Human Remains and Live Find.
Has been the Emergency Manager for Wilson County, NC since July 1993. He has worked for Wilson County since 1984. He has been involved in emergency services work for the last thirty-six years including Emergency Management, 911 dispatch, EMS, Fire Service, Hazardous Materials and Search and Rescue. He holds the NC Emergency Management Executive EM Certification and the IAEM Certified Emergency Manager credential. Gordon has been a search dog handler since 1998. He and his first dog, Duncan, did numerous searches across the state and are responsible for locating several lost people. Together, they worked on both lost persons searches as well as human remains searches. Duncan passed away in August 2010. Gordon and his current search dog Jax were certified in Human Remains Detection. They have both since retired from active K9 work. Gordon is the past training coordinator for the NC K9 Emergency Response Team, where he worked with other handlers and dogs. NC K9 ERT utilizes trained people and dogs, as well as specialized equipment to locate lost people, both alive and deceased. The team works at the pleasure of Emergency Management and Law Enforcement on both active searches and crime scenes. NC K9 ERT is a volunteer and a 501C3 non-profit organization. Gordon is a past NASAR FUNSAR Instructor, SAR Tech II Evaluator and HRD Canine Evaluator
Is a native of Wilson and graduated from Ralph L. Fike H.S. in 1987. He is currently employed with the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency where he serves as the Community Preparedness Coordinator, Public Health Preparedness Coordinator and Asst. Fire Marshall (since Sept. 2007). Rodney was employed by the Wilson Police Dept. for 10 ½ years as a Forensic Analyst. He is also a Certified Criminal Justice Instructor for the State of NC. He was also the Chief of the Wilson County Rescue Squad (Volunteers) until 2013. Rodney is a graduate of NC Wesleyan College with a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology (graduated May 2007 cum laude). Rodney is a brother of Alpha Phi Omega (National Service Fraternity), as well as a past Community Advisor for the Barton College Chapter. Rodney has attended Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Training (also Team Member), Crisis Negotiation Training (w/Law Enforcement) and Dignitary Protection Training.
Has been training dogs professionally since 1979, a retired police K9 handler, Master Trainer for the Sanford Police Department. In 1992 he began training and handling search and Rescue K9s. Mac served as President and Director of training for the Mid-Atlantic working Dog Association. President and vice-president of the NC Search and Rescue advisory Council. Mac has been President of the Board of Directors and Chief of NC K9 E.R.T. (NC Emergency Response Team, Inc.) since 1999. He and his K9’s along with sonar equipment have done numerous searches for Law Enforcement and other official agencies in NC and surrounding states and are responsible for locating several missing persons. Mac has been a lead instructor, evaluator and certifier for the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) for both people and K9s and has instructed at numerous community colleges and various SAR & K9 seminars throughout the southeastern US. Mac continues to promote the use of properly trained SAR K9s.
Kim LaFrance, BAS, CVT Certified Veterinary Technologist / Law Enforcement Officer Kim has been an active member of the veterinary field since 1999. She has worked as a lead veterinary technician, hospital supervisor and practice manager. Her responsibilities often include training fellow veterinary technicians, hospital staff and veterinarians. She obtained her veterinary certification in January 2005 and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from St. Petersburg College in January 2006. She also completed her Veterinary Hospital Management Certificate. Kim has worked in many specialty areas of veterinary medicine including oncology, ophthalmology, emergency, and surgery. Kim also spent several years working with exotic animal species. In addition to working with many animals in a medical capacity, Kim has also spent over 20 years volunteering her time as a K9 handler. One of her first experiences was certifying her dog Kassie, a Catahoula Leopard Dog, with Therapy Dog, Inc. Shortly after that, Kim began donating her time outside of work to Emergency Management education and K9 Search and Rescue. Kim has had two nationally certified K9s, in the disciplines of tracking/trailing, area, building and human remains detection. Kim has also worked as a K9 handler/trainer in other areas such as bed bug detection and conservation canines. Kim spent most of her volunteer time as an independent K9 handler. However, Kim was the Deputy Team Leader for Osceola K9 Search and Rescue and served as the Vice President for NOCSAR for 8 years. She was also a K9 handler with Search and Rescue of Central Florida. She has been a member of NAPWDA since 2010 and has been a guest instructor at their state workshop in Florida on more than one occasion. Kim has also been a member of NASAR, NNCDS, and NNDDA; as well as an AKC evaluator. Kim has been a certified Law Enforcement Officer in Florida since 2014. She served her community in Florida and has now relocated to North Carolina where she continues to be honored to serve the citizens of Concord.