National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University

  • National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium 2020 (Virtual edition)
    [Photo description: Symposium Co-hosts - Michele Pich, Assistant Director of the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program at Rowan University & National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador Team Member; David Frei, celebrity host of the National Dog Show on NBC; at 2019's innaugural National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University].

National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University

SAVE THE DATE! December 7, 2022 (all-virtual)

NDS title banner 2021
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Thank you to our sponsors:

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After the inaugural National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University in November 2019 (in-person), and last year's success with a virtual event, we decided to do it again.  This year's theme is the celebration of diversity and inclusion in animal-assisted interventions (AAI's). 

Stay tuned for details on this year's event on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 10:30am-4:30pm EST!

Cost: TBD- in-person & virtual (through WebEx) options

***If you are a student & interested in attending in-person or virtually, email for a discount code to enter when registering.

The National Dog Show Therapy Dog Symposium at Rowan University is one of America’s most important gatherings devoted to therapy dogs. The day-long conference brings together therapy dog handlers, health care experts, academics, those who want to get involved and people who simply love dogs, to share information, cutting edge research, insights from practical applications and best practices.

The conference is hosted by Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, just 30 minutes from downtown Philadelphia. The school is home to the ground-breaking Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program where students have access to therapy dogs year-round.

The 2022 conference will be held on Wednesday, December 7th from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30p.m. (EST) and because it is being held virtually, will be open to people from across the United States, and around the world. Much of our focus of this year's event will be related to diversity and inclusion.

The symposium is hosted by David Frei and Michele Pich, and organized by the planning committee. David is the expert analyst on NBC’s National Dog Show, broadcast every year on Thanksgiving, and one of the best known names in the canine world. He is also a prolific writer and founder of Angel on a Leash. Michele Pich is the Assistant Director of Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program and Adjunct Professor of Law and Justice Studies at Rowan. Michele has worked in animal-assisted therapy (and other animal-assisted activities and interactions) for many years, including with her own certified therapy dog, Vivian Peyton, who is a therapy dog ambassador for the National Dog Show and part of Rowan's program.


David Frei           HOSTS         Michele Pich & therapy dog, Vivian Peyton

David Frei, BS (w/ Angel & Gracie)         Michele Pich, MA, MS (w/ Vivian Peyton)                                    

  * Check out some of the 2020 event speakers here: 

*Shareable flyer for last year's (2021) symposium: DOWNLOAD HERE

*Downloadable Agenda for last year's (2021) event: DOWNLOAD HERE


Last Year's (2021) Speakers included:

 rw-temple-headshot-best-002--cropped.jpg *Keynote 1: Dr. Temple Grandin (she/hers)

Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University

special recorded conversation

Dr. Temple Grandin (she/hers)  is a a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and has been a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals. Temple was born an autistic child. At age 2 she had no speech. Mentored by her high school science teacher and aunt, Temple pursued a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer. Dr. Grandin has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute, and received honorary doctorates from McGill University, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duke. In 2015 she was given the Distinguished Service Award by the American Farm Bureau Federation. HBO premiered a movie about Temple’s early life and career with the livestock industry, & the movie received 7 Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. In 2016, Temple was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Temple also spoke at the grand opening of Rowan University's Neurodiversity Center in October 2021.


carlo-siracusa-photo-online.jpg *KEYNOTE 2Carlo Siracusa, DVM, MS, PhD  (he/his)

Associate Professor of Clinical Animal Behavior and Welfare, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary College

Carlo Siracusa obtained his DVM from the University of Messina, Italy, and his PhD from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. He completed his residency in Animal Behavior at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Clinical Animal Behavior and Welfare, and the Director of the Animal Behavior Service. Carlo is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, of which he is the President, and by the European College of Animal Welfare and Behavior Medicine. His research interests are focused on canine stress evaluation; canine and feline temperament evaluation; prognostic factors and treatment outcome of behavior problems; behavior changes in dogs with medical disease.

Our Other All-Star Speakers:


philtedeschi_15-photo-cropped.jpg -Philip Tedeschi, LCSW MSSW (he/his)

Clinical Professor/ Director Emeritus, Institute for Human- Animal Connection, University of Denver

Philip Tedeschi is the Director Emeritus and Founder of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection and a clinical professor at the Graduate School of Social Work. He is globally recognized for expertise in the clinical methods of animal-assisted Interventions and coordinates the school's animal-assisted social work certificate program for Master of Social Work (MSW) students, as well as the animals and human health professional development certificate program. He received his MSSW degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his specialization was the bio-affiliative connection between people and animals. He studies and teaches on the intricate relationship between people, domestic and wild animals, and the natural world. Tedeschi’s research, scholarship, presentations, training, and community practice work have focused on issues of social and interspecies justice, global perspectives of human-animal interactions, conservation social work, human ecology, causes of violence toward people and animals. He specializes in the therapeutic and health promoting potential of human-animal and nature interaction, trauma informed methods and intervention in interpersonal violence, including assessment and intervention with cruelty and animal abuse.


georgitta-valiyamattam-photo-online.png -Georgitta Valiyamattam, PhD (she/hers)

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Gitam University, India

Dr. Valiyamattam received her doctorate from Andhra University, as a Fulbright-Nehru scholar at the Center for the Human-Animal Bond, Purdue University. Using an eye tracking paradigm, her doctoral work examined how animals may modulate visual attention in children with Autism and received the best dissertation award from the National Academy of Psychology, India, 2019. Georgitta’s current research interests lie in understanding the science behind human-animal bonding particularly in children with developmental conditions using a vision research perspective and with a specific focus on the multicultural considerations involved.


lecomte-jennifer.jpg -Jennifer LeComte, DO (she/her)

Medical Director of Rowan Integrated Special Needs (RISN) Center, Rowan University

Dr. Jennifer LeComte is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her Med-Peds residency in Delaware at Christiana Care Health System and Nemours A. I. duPont Hospital for Children and is double board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. She served as a pediatric chief resident at Nemours, as she initiated her career in providing primary care for patients with complex conditions originating in childhood across the lifespan. She is currently an Associate Professor at RowanSOM in the Internal Medicine and Pediatric departments and is the Medical Director of Rowan Integrated Special Needs (RISN) Center. Dr. LeComte currently serves on the board of director for Special Olympics of Delaware and volunteers with Rowan Unified Sports.

aita---headshot-002.jpg -Wendy Aita, PhD (she/hers)

Co-Director of Rowan Integrated Special Needs (RISN) Center,  Rowan University

Dr. Wendy Aita is Co-Director of the RISN Center and Behavioral Health Lead. She is a Clinical Psychologist who received her Ph.D. from Fairleigh Dickinson University and completed her internship at Friend’s Hospital. She is licensed in New Jersey. She joined Rowan 10 years ago and is currently an Assistant Professor in both the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology. She has worked with individuals, and their families, who are dually-diagnosed with intellectual disability and mental health issues for several years. She is an expert in Trauma Informed Care and treatment with a specific interest in complex trauma and helping individuals who have experienced medical trauma access routine medical procedures. She has significant experience in psychological testing, individual and family therapy, and integration of behavioral health into primary care. She serves on the Rowan University Neurodiversity Task Force, and with Special Olympics of New Jersey.


rob-rosa-pic.jpg -Norberto (Rob) Rosa (he/his)

Vice President of Programs, New Leash on Life-USA; Peer Recovery Specialist

When a Common Pleas Court judge labeled Rob Rosa a “career criminal” at age 16, it seemed he had plenty of evidence to back that up. But what neither judge realized was there was a seed of success deep inside him, a harbored passion for animals that would turn him away from criminal activity and lead to a successful and productive career. And to help others follow in his footsteps.Today, Rob being a person living in long term recovery and a Certified Recovery Specialist is the Vice President of Programs for New Leash on Life USA, a program that helps provide second chances to those who are justice involved and rescued shelter dogs. His path towards recovery started ironically, in Graterford state prison. There he volunteered with Canine Partners for Life (CPL), a prison program where he learned to train service dogs to assist people with physical limitations. In June 2006, Rob was recruited to work at the shelter for the City of Philadelphia (PACCA) and he welcomed the chance to give back to the community where he had grown up. Rob’s success in several animal-shelter roles brought him the chance to help the innovative New Leash On Life USA Rescue/Re-entry prison dog program that has become a widely-recognized program, praised for its success in reducing recidivism rates for inmates who participate in. June 2012, he was offered a full-time permanent position with New Leash as Director of Operations. Since his appointment at New Leash, Rob was awarded the prestigious ASPCA® Henry Bergh Award in 2016, a national award reflecting the unwavering dedication of ASPCA founder Henry Bergh. He was also named the Unsung Hero of the Year by NonPofitPro (2015)


muldrow-michael---use-this.jpg -Michael Muldrow (he/his)

Police Commissioner of York City Police Department

Born and raised in York PA, as a second generation Police Officer (both serving on the streets of York City), Muldrow's career has span over 20 decorated years, with stints on the Municipal, County, and Federal levels. For the past decade, Muldrow served in the Schools, where he found his niche leading a team of School Resource Officers, developing programming and initiatives aimed at serving the community and supporting urban youth. These experiences and his passion for community most recently culminating in his appointment and return to the York City Police Department, in the position of Commissioner; where he continues to use the role as a bridge to promote improved relations between the community and Law Enforcement, a building block to inspire the recruitment of underrepresented populations (into public service careers), a platform for responsible reform throughout policing, and a conduit for social change.


lynne-robinson-online-cropped.jpg-Lynne Robinson (she/hers)

Executive Director and Founder of PAWS for People

Lynne has been actively involved with pet-assisted visitation since she rescued her big, red golden, Boo Radley, in 2003. Lynne Robinson morphed from a public school English teacher to a full time volunteer to the founder and Executive Director of PAWS for People, a large forward-thinking non-profit that focuses on recruiting, training, placing, and supporting over 500 pet therapy teams in the four state area. Lynne began her journey 18 years ago with pet therapy when she adopted a 4 year old golden retriever named Boo and saw the amazing positive impact he had on everyone he met calming the anxious, cheering the forlorn, and offering his quiet, old-soul compassion to those who needed companionship and comfort. She manages a staff of 9 to provide top notch training and continued education to her teams, creates, develops, and teaches innovative new programs, and continues to visit offenders at Vaughn Correctional Center, offers PreK PAWS to teeny tots, and enjoys working with a variety of different people through PAWS Special Request program. On nonPAWS time, Lynne does extensive alcohol inking through her business Dragonfly's Wings.


hering-andrea-photo-cropped.jpg -Andrea Hering, (she/hers)

Co-Founder & President of Crisis Response CaninesAlliance of Therapy Dog Tester/Observer, AKC CGC Evaluator, and Agility Trainer and Competitor

Andrea began to study the role of canines related to traumatic events. Andrea quickly learned the benefits of resilience and healing through our connections with canines. Which is when Andrea achieved certification as an Alliance of Therapy Dog Tester / Observer and began to aid others with achieving their Therapy Dog certification. As Andrea traveled with her Therapy Dogs she observed first hand the positive impact canines had with individuals impacted by critical events. After more research and extensive training, Andrea put her efforts into creating a dedicated organization devoted to providing animal assisted crisis response. Andrea Co-founded two so successful Crisis Response Canine Organizations. Andrea has developed in - depth Crisis Response Canines Certification.


mike-bobert-with-buttons.jpg -Michael Bober, (he/his)

President & CEO, Pet industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC); Certified Association Executive (CAE) and has completed the entire PetStorePro animal care program

Mike Bober joined the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) as Vice President of Government Affairs in 2013 and has led the Council’s advocacy efforts ever since. In January of 2016, he was named President and CEO. To spread the word about the power of pets and the benefits of the human-animal bond, Mike and the PIJAC team have established or expanded several popular events on Capitol Hill including Pet Night, therapy animal interactions, and an annual legislative fly-in for the pet care community. Mike lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his family and Scruffles, their new Cocker Spaniel.


Thank you for participating in the 3rd annual National Dog Show Therapy  Dog Symposium at Rowan University from the planning committee:

Mary Grace Buckwalter; Noelle Davis; Linda DiGennaro; Lindsay Fetters; Sara Freeman; Matthew Hird; Amanda Foxman; David Frei; Steve Griffith; Debra Hamilton; Alice Hoersch; Steve LeGrice; Nancy Lewine; Jenny Michele; Michele Pich; Marie Polk; Walter Roth; Kelly Rounds; Ted Slupik