Lone Star Chapter

South Central Region

About Our Chapter

The Lone Star Chapter was established in early 2015 after a group of dedicated volunteers voted to form an organized Canine Companions chapter. Our chapter serves the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and consists of volunteers, puppy raisers, graduate teams and donors who actively work to support the mission of Canine Companions.

The goals of our chapter are to:

  • Grow chapter membership by raising public awareness of Canine Companions.
  • Recruit individuals enthused about and dedicated to raising future assistance dogs.
  • Provide financial support for Canine Companions through fundraising.
  • Maintain a vibrant, positive presence in the community by giving presentations and demonstrations about Canine Companions.
  • Show support to all who share the passion and pursue the mission of Canine Companions.

The Lone Star Chapter is proud to be an extension of the sixth and newest regional training center for Canine Companions for Independence. Located in Irving, Texas, the Kinkeade Campus is the first partnership between Canine Companions and Baylor, Scott & White Health Care System. The South Central Training Center offers ideal facilities for providing professional training for assistance dogs and preparing graduate teams for their lives together. The campus has 24 kennels for Canine Companions dogs and six cabins specially designed to accommodate those participating in Team Training.

We are always in need of additional puppy raisers. Puppy raisers donate their time and effort in the care and socialization of assistance dog candidates. Raisers spend countless hours teaching their pups basic commands and good house behaviors to prepare them for their future job. Our chapter provides a community of support, allowing you to give back while being paid in unconditional love and puppy kisses. It is a job that is both warm and fuzzy! If you would like to learn more about puppy raising and our other volunteer efforts, please contact us.

2019 Chapter Leadership Team

Dawn Thompson, President

Dawn has been involved with Canine Companions since 2013 as a volunteer puppy raiser who has graduated two puppies. Dawn has been active the last year as Vice President and prior as Co-Chair of Fundraising and Yappy Hour Committees..

Michelle Sudduth, Vice President

Michelle has volunteered with Canine Companions since 2015 and is a native Texan. She and her family raised Danny III, a Labrador/ Golden retriever cross who was released from the program and is now doing therapy work. Michelle is a retired educator who enjoys traveling and spending time with family. Michelle served as Secretary/Treasurer in 2018 for the Lone Star Chapter.

Erin LaMonte, Secretary/ Treasurer

Erin is a ten-time puppy raiser, currently raising Dewey, and has been involved with the Lone Star Chapter from its beginning after moving from Southern California four years ago. She has served as Vice President and Communications Coordinator the last three years.

Rebecca Abshire, Fundraising Events Coordinator

Rebecca chaired the Yappy Hour Committee and was Fundraising Coordinator this year and has been a part of the Events and Fundraising team since 2017. Rebecca works at UPS and enjoys walking her dogs, antiquing, and visiting local wineries.

Ava Busto Schiff, Website Coordinator

Ava and Service Dog Zenna graduated from Canine Companions in February 2019. Ava has experience working in web design and is excited to join the Lone Star Volunteer Chapter as website coordinator.

Debbie Bringhurst, Puppy Outreach Coordinator

Debbie came to the Canine Companions Lone Star Chapter in 2015 as the Puppy Welcome Wagon coordinator after raising puppies for two other organizations. She retired from the financial industry and has been a member of the Baylor Scott & White Pet Therapy program for 12 years.

Jackie Jelen, Community Outreach Coordinator

Jackie is a long-time Texas puppy raiser currently raising her 11th puppy, Reuben, a black Labrador/ Golden retriever cross. Jackie recently retired from Chase and is enjoying life. She previously served the Lone Star Chapter in the role of Secretary/ Treasurer.

Skylar Conover, Graduate Liason

Skylar with Service Dog Hedda IV have been a Canine Companions graduate team since November 2016. Skylar served as the Graduate Liaison in 2017 and 2018 and was Ms. Wheelchair USA, 2015-2016.

Kaitlynn Watterson, Graduate Liason

Kaitlynn and Renley have been a hearing team since May 2018. Kaitlynn returned home to Dallas after finishing her nursing degree and will be working in the Dallas area.

Sam Korman, Youth Liason

Sam served on the 2017 and 2018 Lone Star Chapter leadership team as Youth Liaison. He raised Canine Companions puppy Arlene as his Eagle Scout Project and recently achieved Eagle Scout.

Robin Kinsel, Gala Chair
Robin has served as the Chapter president for two years and played a key role in our successful Barks and BBQ and Nacho Ordinary Dog fundraisers the last two years.

Carolyn Weinzirl, Gala Chair

Carolyn has been an active volunteer in the Lone Star Chapter as well as on the Irving Healthcare Foundation Board. She is the gala chair for the Nacho Ordinary Dog event. She also puppy sits, bathes dogs, helps with campus tours and helps staff with anything that's needed.