Training Team - History and Qualifications


Robbie Benson - President

  • Founder of San Diego AWOL (Animals Worthy of Life) a 501(c)3 Non-Profit
  • Volunteered Open Door Animal Sanctuary St. Louis, MO
  • Volunteered 3 years at Operation Greyhound – San Diego a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Dog Rescue
  • Volunteered for 3 years at Escondido Humane Society - Up-started and ran three programs there with great successes:
    • Adult Dog Foster Program – Got many behaviorally challenged dogs out of the stressful shelter environment and into foster homes where they could decompress and have attention and training they had never received in their initial homes
    • Dog Massage Program - Taught volunteers simple massage techniques that had a dramatic positive effect on incarcerated shelter dogs.
    • Dog Aromatherapy Program – Taught volunteers how to administrate throughout the dog kennels so as to introduce relaxation in a very stressful kennel environment.
  • Because of nutritional deficiencies in commercial dog food, launched an in-depth study and formed a homemade dog food company, named Rover’s Ration, where I offered highly nutritious food for dogs made from human grade ingredients purchased at health food and grocery stores. To this day I still make homemade dog food for my dogs and share my dog food making guide with all who want or need.
  • Attended two No Kill Seminars held at George Washington School of Law in Washington DC. These seminars had both shelter and legal tracks with presenters being some of the country’s leading animal law attorneys, most successful shelter directors, animal control directors and various political figures. Attendees came from over 40 states and over 10 different countries – as far away as Australia.
  • Connected to a broad network of industry leaders throughout the country such as trainers, attorneys, shelter directors and animal advocates who are responsible for helping change conditions and legislation for animals.
  • Initiated effort and worked with Escondido Councilperson Olga Diaz to raise the dog limit in Escondido, CA.

Rochelle Bowman - Certified Behaviorist/Dog Trainer

Attended Triple Crown Academy, one of our Nation's Top Dog Training and Behavior Schools, in 2003 where she received her certification as Certified Canine Behaviorist and Training Specialist.

  • Certified Dog Trainer for 10+ years ,specializing in Behavior Modification and Puppy Socialization, with experience in the following fields: Schutzhund, Military Working Dogs (MWD), Aggression, Submissive/Insecure Dogs, Puppies, Puppy through Advanced Class Instruction, Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certified evaluator and Socialization-Training-Activity-Responsibility (S.T.A.R.) evaluator for 10+ years, Water Therapy for Aggression or Submissive Dogs, Service Dog Training and Certification for Wounded Warriors and private owners and Rehabilitation for Dogs in Rescues.
  • Has worked within Veterinary field for 11+ years and has always been the “go-to-person” called upon to handle aggressive patients.
  • Foster Mom for local rescues specializing in behavior modification of adult dogs, puppy socialization and neonates.
  • Partnered with several local rescues and canine businesses as their “point of reference” person to help evaluate and work with “problem” rescue dogs.
  • Member of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, International Association of Canine Professionals and American Kennel Club CGC Evaluator.
  • Additional information on Rochelle can be found at

Danielle Spilker-Wilson is a Detective with the San Diego Police Department, currently assigned to the Child Abuse Unit.

As a patrol officer, Danielle worked in SDPD’s Southern Division and spent two years on the Border Crime Suppression, focusing primarily on narcotics and gang enforcement. Danielle recently completed work as a P.O.S.T. Subject Matter Expert on a statewide panel formed to assist in creating a P.O.S.T. training video designed to keep law enforcement officers and all safe during dog encounters. That video will be released by P.O.S.T. in late 2015. Danielle also worked on the P.O.S.T. Humane Investigations training video.

Prior to becoming a San Diego Police Officer, Danielle worked for 15 years for the San Diego County Department of Animal Services. As an Animal Control Officer, she worked as a patrol officer in the Department’s South County Region, working primarily in the East County. Danielle was then assigned to work as an investigator in the Dangerous Dog Task Force, conducting investigations and presenting evidence in administrative hearings. As an Animal Control Sergeant she was again assigned to the South County Region, until being promoted to Lieutenant. Danielle spent her last six years as a Lieutenant, coordinating and teaching in the Animal Control Academy and then as a Field Lieutenant at the North County Shelter. Danielle has been certified as a court expert when testifying on matters related to dog and gamecock fighting.

Denise J Gove “DJ” is a seasoned professional with stellar credentials. Her qualifications and experience include:

  • County of San Diego Department of Animal Services – Animal Control Officer - 2011 to present - As a field responder, expert in analyzing and responding to animal behavior and perceived threat in regards to keeping herself and everyone including animals safe.
  • San Diego Humane Society and SPCA – Humane Officer, Investigations Department - 2004-2011
  • Level -1 POST Police Officer
  • POST Instructor
  • Regularly teach at the academy level: Animal Cruelty, Bite Prevention, Livestock Handling, Link to Violence and Disaster Preparedness
  • Animal Rescue responder and team lead during San Diego County disasters and national response for Katrina and Ike
  • Current volunteer as a handler for California Wolf Center, Project Wildlife and Horses of Tir Na Nog.
  • 6 years US Army
  • 30 years Reserve Officer for Chula Vista Mounted Police

Training Background:
Police Academy Level 1, Animal Control Academy, Humane Officer Academy, Chemical Capture, Illegal Animal Fighting, Mounted Search and Rescue MRNS-SDMDC Search and Rescue Academy and Emergency Medical Technician

Tunis VanBerkum

Tunis is no stranger to facilitating training. As a member of the United States Marine Corp for 14 years he trained Marines in weapons globally. As well he brings to the table 10+ years of Animal Control experience facing every kind of behavior situation with dogs “daily” and the ability to successfully deal with and/or diffuse those situations with no harm to the dogs or himself.

Training during that 10+ years of Animal Control experience has included Humane Academy, Search and Seizure Post Cert Course, numerous Dog Fighting Courses, Pet Store Inspection, Animal Husbandry plus many more. Additionally, capable and qualified to do any case work from the lowest levels all the way to prosecution. Furthermore, Tunis presented and trained, complete with dogs, 2 week end seminars in “How to Break up a Dog Fight” for all of the volunteers at our non-profit rescue.

Emily Keaney - Dog Trainer, Business Owner of Daycare and Cage Free Boarding for Dogs.

Training has included years of instruction and hands on work with highly successful and respected dog trainers. Owner of multiple dogs and fosters for various organizations. Volunteers for SDAWOL where she has been involved in Dog Training and regular Adoption Events at PetSmart. Volunteered for Department of Animal Services San Diego where she instituted her training methods with incarcerated shelter animals. Emily is listed on the esteemed website. The San Diego Dog Trainer Directory was created by volunteer effort to provide a list of experienced trainers to adopters of rescue and shelter dogs and for the general public. All trainers have been screened and are using only scientific, modern positive reinforcement dog training methods.” Trainers do not pay to be on this list.