Animal Behavior Consultant
Sherry Woodard is Best Friends’ resident animal behavior consultant. As an expert in animal training, behavior and care, she develops resources, provides consulting services, leads workshops and speaks nationwide to promote animal welfare.
Before coming to Best Friends, Sherry, a nationally certified pet dog trainer, worked with dogs, cats, horses and a variety of other animals. She also worked in veterinary clinics, where she gained valuable experience in companion-animal medical care and dog dentistry.
Sherry came to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in 1996 as a dog caretaker. Her understanding of animals and insights into their behavior were quickly recognized and, in 1997, she was asked to manage Dogtown, where she oversaw the daily care and medical needs of 600 dogs. As manager, Sherry was responsible for the intake of new dogs to the Sanctuary, the placement of dogs in appropriate social groups, dog adoption programs, student and volunteer group visits, the foster care program, supply orders, and all matters relating to personnel. She participated in the design of new buildings and exercise areas in Dogtown that have provided stimulating and comfortable environments for thousands of dogs over the years. Early in 2003, Sherry joined Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets national team.
Today, representatives from humane organizations and shelters across the country seek out Sherry for advice. Sherry assists individuals and shelter and rescue personnel with animal behavior, management and enrichment. She gives workshop presentations on animal care, animal behavior, training and adoptions at national conferences as well as shelters.
Sherry has been certified by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) as a certified professional dog trainer – knowledge assessed (CPDT-KA). In March 2008, Sherry’s Dog Behavior and Handling Workshop was approved for continuing education credit by CCPDT.
Sherry has written more than 100 animal care, behavior and training documents for Best Friends that are used across the U.S. and by groups in Canada, Romania, China, India and Tbilisi, Georgia. She has created two training CDs with video, a basic and an advanced version. Sherry has also been featured in the National Geographic Channel’s TV series called “DogTown,” which chronicles the physical and emotional rehabilitation of dogs living at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Sherry has developed a canine behavior assessment method to help people learn what dogs need so that they can be placed safely in new homes. Sherry also created a cat assessment program for shelter adoption staff and cat rescuers to help them read cats’ body language and assess their needs.
Widely regarded as an expert on animal behavior, Sherry has consulted on and assisted with the investigation of animal cases in litigation, testified in cases of cruelty and breed discrimination, and worked with law enforcement on a fatal dog attack case.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Sherry gained on-the-ground leadership experience in disaster response and management of ongoing emergency relief projects when she spent eight months in Tylertown, Mississippi, helping with rescue, assessment and socialization of dogs; supervising staff and volunteers; and working with all types of animals, including exotics.
Sherry has completed 12 FEMA Emergency Management Institute courses and has been a certified first-aid first-responder and an EMT. She has been a whitewater raft guide licensed in the Grand Canyon and has experience as a back-country guide and with rock climbing and swift-water rescue.
In 2007, Sherry spent six months working with Best Friends’ Great Kitty Rescue in Pahrump, Nevada, where 800 cats were discovered living in horrible conditions. To prepare these traumatized kitties for new lives as house cats, she and several colleagues developed a process for socializing fearful cats. As a result, hundreds of cats from the Pahrump compound were adopted into good homes.
In 2009 Sherry was instrumental in developing Best Friends’ Canines with Careers program. Sherry is helping rescue groups, dog trainers and shelters that want to start training and placing qualified shelter dogs as career dogs in loving homes. The dog careers vary and could include therapy, assistance, different types of service and detection.
Since 2009 Sherry has personally screened, selected, trained and placed more than 70 dogs in various careers. These dogs work with law enforcement officers and professional dog handlers on search dog teams, and as therapy, crisis response and service dogs helping people with a variety of disabilities. The career dog who lives with her serves as a Canines with Careers demo dog, role model, behavior assessment aid and search dog. Sherry currently works with more than 200 groups and individuals who save shelter dogs.
Sherry lives in Angel Canyon in Kanab, Utah, with her son, four cats, one ferret and five dogs.