Skip to main content

You are here

HSWC Staff Member Deploys with ASPCA

Crista Kowalski knew from a young age that she wanted to work with animals. As a child, she was always told to become a veterinarian but she knew that wasn’t right for her. There had to be more options out there!

In college, Crista frequently watched the show “Animal Cops” and noticed they would occasionally feature an Animal Behaviorist – someone who evaluated a dog’s behavior and made recommendations on how to work with and improve that behavior. Something clicked with Crista and she knew that was the career she wanted!

Crista began volunteering at the HSWC after college, and soon after came on board as an Animal Care staff member. Recently she took advantage of a fantastic educational opportunity - deploying with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Crista assisted the ASPCA’s behavior team as they worked to improve the manners and behavior of over 100 dogs that were rescued from dog fighting or hoarding cases. She helped with enrichment activities, play groups and positive reinforcement training.

During her week deployed, Crista’s hard work paid off. Animals she’d been working with showed signs of improved manners! One of her favorite experiences was when she was walking a puppy on a leash. He walked right at her side, looked up at her and maintained eye contact, and sat nicely when they reached the door – all things she’d been teaching him!

“A lot of the dogs have a better chance of being adopted more quickly if they know those manners,” said Crista. “We worked on improving the dogs’ behavior so that when their case is over, they can be made available for adoption.”

Now back in Hagerstown, Crista is applying the knowledge she gained to help the shelter dogs at the HSWC, specifically those who are fearful or in the shelter long-term.

“It was a phenomenal experience. I gained a lot of enrichment ideas. I also learned how to safely socialize dogs and how to make a fearful dog in our shelter more comfortable.”

Crista will continue to work on improving the manners and adoptability of shelter dogs at the HSWC. Her future plan is to become a Certified Dog Trainer and then obtain her Master’s Degree so she can become a Certified Animal Behaviorist – her dream job!

We are so excited about the invaluable training Crista received from the ASPCA that she is now able to use for the good of the animals at the HSWC!