The trainers and leaders of SDONA bring a collective wealth of over 75 years experiences to our efforts to develop and nurture a sound education and skill building program for K9 SAR teams throughout North America.
Meet the Management Team
Bill Dotson, Founder and President
Bill Dotson began dog training in 1971 when he and his wife became interested in AKC obedience. He later transitioned to Schutzhund (German protection dog sport) in 1975 and then founded and was training director of the California Rescue Dog Association in 1977. He earned "Mission Ready" status with the Swiss Disaster Dog Association after training in Switzerland. From 1978 to 1980, he assisted the Davis California police department as a volunteer police dog team. After moving to Virginia, Bill joined Dogs East and was an operational member from 1982 to 1997. During his long canine career, Bill has responded to a very long list of national and international disasters. Because of his experience, he was tasked with assisting FEMA in the development of their criteria for FEMA Disaster Task Force dog teams. He also worked with Virginia Task Force 2 (VA-TF2) in the development of their K9 teams. Bill is a regular speaker and seminar leader on Search and Rescue, Disaster and Cadaver search dogs. He has acted as an advisor to numerous search and rescue teams around the world. He is also the founder and President of Applied K9 Technologies.
Jacqueline McCarty, Vice President
Jackie started her career in Search and Rescue with Kentucky Search and Rescue Dogs in 1992. She has trained two dogs in wilderness & HRD and two dogs in live-find disaster to the operational level. The Falmouth, KY, flood in 1997 was her first disaster. Working that disaster made her realize the need to increase and standardize the education and training for SAR K9 teams. She transitioned exclusively to disaster dog work in 2005, and is a member of a task force in Indiana. She is currently working with her fifth SAR dog, Gabe, a Belgian Malinois. She is a disaster dog evaluator and has been deployed to several disasters including searching for survivors after Hurricane Katrina. For her day job, she is a LVT and is the Surgical Manager at the University of Louisville large animal facility.
Kathy Yelton, Treasurer
Kathy was a member of the K9 Operations Team with the McLean County Emergency Management Agency in Illinois from 2012-2022. Kathy's first working partner, K9 Elly, was injured during training and sustained a career ending injury. Kathy and Elly have since retired from SAR work and will continue detection work in the field of dog sports. Kathy continues to head out into the woods “getting lost and disorientated” to set up realistic training scenarios for many different SAR K9’s and their handlers to better equip them for an actual mission. Kathy has been training dogs for the past 17 years and specializes in puppy and rescue/shelter dog obedience training. She loves to see the working bond between the trainer and K9 strengthen as new skills are learned together as a team. Kathy is also the CFO of a manufacturing rep company that has offices in Chicago, Peoria and Bloomington Illinois.
Becky Saltzmann, Secretary
Becky Saltzmann has been immersed in the world of dogs since she was approximately 13 years of age. In 2006/2007, Becky transitioned from the Labrador retrievers she had grown up around to two pointy eared dogs including a dutch shepherd. Throughout the years, Becky participated in both agility and rally obedience with her pointy eared friends. Following a move back to Ohio, in 2015, Kate, a beagle/jack russel mix joined the Saltzmann household. Together the family was introduced to trailing and the Search and Rescue community. In 2016, Becky became a volunteer member of the long-established Mecca VFD K9 Search Team. Currently Becky serves as a board member for the Mecca VFD Associations board and team leader for the K9 Search team. Mecca K9 Search Team consists of three handlers and four K9s. In 2022, Becky established the non-profit K9 search and rescue team, the Ohio Branch K9 Search Team. Ohio Branch consists of eight handlers, ten K9s and three support volunteers. Becky is currently handling three K9s including K9 Kate, certified trailing; K9 Gibbs, certified in land and water recovery; and K9 MIA Lou, who is in training for live area search.
Lynn Packard, Director of Operations and Events
Initiated into dog training as a Helper for Police Dogs back in the 1990s, Lynn was determined to find a better way to train dogs than through the commonly accepted compulsive methods. Over the years, she has worked with various SAR teams to learn what techniques worked best. She eventually found her home with IDK9, a nonprofit SAR K9 training group that was the predecessor to SDONA. Lynn has certified dogs through the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) in tracking, evidence search, and area search. She is training her current K9, Tobias for Disaster Response with the Michigan USAR.. Lynn coordinates the training events for SDONA--finding venues, managing personnel, locating dog-friendly hotels, etc. During the events, she assists the Lead Instructors as a victim, hiding for the dogs (sometimes for hours) in dark, cramped spaces that would make even squirrels claustrophobic.
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