Meet the Staff

Kathy Benner

Founder, Executive Director, Training Director

Kathy Benner, CPDT-KSA (Certified Pet Dog Trainer, Knowledge & Skills Assessed) is the founder, executive director and training director of Heeling House. She has a formal education in animal behavior, and 24 years of hands-on experience working in the industry. She has a BS in Biology from California Polytechnic State University and a Certificate in Exotic Animal Training and Management from Moorpark College.

 

Kathy spent five years training marine mammals at Sea Life Park in Hawaii, and started her first dog obedience company, Clever Canines, in 1996. She moved to Virginia in 2000, worked as a technician at a busy animal hospital, and then opened The Animals' House, a successful dog daycare and training center, in 2001.

 

Kathy has designed and implemented behavior modification and training programs for dolphins, sea lions, seals, penguins, primates, hyenas, mountain lions, Bengal tigers, parrots, llamas, horses and dogs. For the last seven years, Kathy has worked full time training therapy dogs, teaching therapy dog training classes, and collaborating with Physical, Occupational and Speech and Language therapists to provide animal assisted therapy to hundreds of children in our community. She is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a part of four Pet Partners registered therapy animal teams, and a registered AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. Kathy currently owns three Labrador Retrievers, a hound mix, a blue front amazon parrot, two quarter horses, and a shetland pony.

Brittany Mraz

Volunteer Coordinator
Reading Specialist

Brittany has been at Heeling House since 2016 as our Puppy Program and Volunteer coordinator. Brittany also serves on the Board of Directors as the Vice President since 2019. She is a certified therapy team through Pet Partners, attending various therapy centers, hospitals, outreach events and school programs. Brittany is a Canine Good Citizen evaluator and teaches our Group Puppy and Advanced Puppy Manners classes.

 

Brittany has a B.S. degree in Early Education with a minor in Psychology from Longwood University. She also has taken graduate level courses in Nonprofit Management. Brittany has been a certified dog trainer through Animal Behavioral College (ABC) since 2014 and continues her education through separate courses such as training shelter dogs, small business management and how to perform CPR and First Aid to canines and felines.

 

Before coming to Heeling House, Brittany worked at Dominion Animal Hospital in downtown Herndon, VA as the lead technician and manager for many years. She also taught elementary education for five years after graduating from Longwood University. Brittany has a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, two Labradoodles, and a Tabby cat.

Monica Chiu

Office Manager/Training Coordinator

Monica has been with Heeling House since 2014 and is responsible for the general management of the office as well as her training coordinator responsibilities. She has a B.S. from the University of Mary Washington, with a degree in Chemistry. After college, Monica held several different managerial positions before joining Heeling House. She has always had a passion for animals and loves interacting with children, and has spent many hours volunteering with both animal rescues and children’s programs throughout the area.

Currently, Monica’s duties as the Training Coordinator involve designing and implementing different training programs with the assistance of the Training Director. Monica is both a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed through CCPDT and a registered AKC evaluator. She teaches group obedience classes as well as private lessons and board and train clients. She is happily married with a precocious toddler and currently has two dogs – a Yorkshire Terrier mix named Pretzel and a rescued Maltese mix named Pika, who is a registered therapy dog with Pet Partners.