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Meet the Pack - Externship Coordinators

Valerie Warde
ABC Lead Externship Coordinator

Valerie is a native of California and has had a genuine passion for all animals her entire life. Her first experience was volunteering at Wildlife on Wheels, which is where she was trained to handle a variety of different wild animals. During the 4 years that she volunteered, she worked with a Canadian lynx, an African Seville, a myriad of bird species, Australian wallabies and assorted reptiles.

In 2003 she was accepted for a year long internship position working with Orangutans at the Los Angeles Zoo. Her internship with the Orangutans taught her the importance of positive reinforcement and relationship building in training. In 2004 she completed her internship with the Orangutans and was accepted as a part time Animal Keeper Assistant at the zoo. This position allowed her to work with a different variety of primates which further enhanced her communication skills with animals.

In addition to the volunteer work she does for the zoo, she also does volunteer work with the San Pedro Mammal Care Center working with sick Seal Lions and Elephant Seals. This work involves treating them and then releasing them back into the wild.

Her genuine love for animals made her decision to begin dog sitting a natural one. She enjoyed utilizing the knowledge she had obtained through volunteering to help her nurture and care for the dogs. Valerie enrolled in the ABC Obedience Instructor Training Program in early 2005 and officially joined the Animal Behavior College team as an Externship Coordinator shortly thereafter. Valerie says she is proud to be part of a team that cares so much about dogs and the people that love them.


Alexandra "Alex" Michaels
ABC Externship Coordinator

Alexandra Michaels has been working with animals practically since birth. She grew up with dogs and fish within her household, but that wasn’t enough for Alex; she began riding horses at the age of 4 and continued on that passion throughout her life. During high school, she worked in Hart Park’s animal rescue organization and also enrolled in the Regional Occupation Program allowing her the opportunity to assist in the Petco training process.

After high school, Alex went on to continue her passion in the horse industry by attending an accredited equestrian college in the United States, Meredith Manor. Having lived in California the majority of her life, the switch to West Virginia was a new and exciting experience which opened many doors and opportunities. After graduating with two degrees in Teaching and Training and having taken Veterinary Technician classes, as well as some in farrier, massage therapy, and breeding, Alex was chosen out of her classmates to work at one of the only historical island/national park in America, Blennerhasset Island. The island was completely accurate; meaning the only mode of transportation was by boat and horse, or horse-drawn carriage. She gave guided tours of the entire park (which was actually an island) as well as trained and took care of the 24 horses they boarded there.

Having successfully completed two full summers on Blennerhasset Island, as well as trained her own horses and worked at a local Petland as the head Pet Counselor, Alex decided to return home to sunny southern California to once again be with her family and friends. She wanted to broaden her career outlook to include all types of animals, so Alex looked into Animal Behavior College’s Veterinary Assistant Program. She was about to start it when she luckily became aware of a position within the company. As Externship Coordinator, she’s excited about working with students as they embark on their journey to become professional dog trainers.

Alex currently lives in Newhall, CA with her three dogs, Harley-Quin, Sterling and Heath, plus a variety of over 20 fish. Alex and her boyfriend enjoy breeding Chinese Fighting Fish (Bettas) and finding local spots to take their pack for a walk. She loves visiting with her mother and sisters and the three dogs they have as well as her father and his two dogs. Alex also trains horses in Vasquez Rocks, CA and loves going on trail with her little sister, Julienne. She likes helping out at the local animal shelter and assisting with their newly rescued horses.