Spencer Group is a team of talented individuals with a wide range of skills and animal-related experiences. Founded by Cheryl Gfrerer after her former foster dog, Spencer had been burned to the skin by a shock collar, Spencer Group was created to ensure that every rescue dog receives compassionate training and a lifelong safe, loving home. We are committed to increasing rescue dogs’ adoptability and strive to prevent the return of adopted dogs and improve rescue dogs’ emotional and physical well-being. We partner with rescue groups and certified trainers to deliver science-based dog training and behavior education on a scholarship basis. Our team includes professional trainers, animal-welfare advocates, committed rescue workers, a veterinarian, an accountant, a lawyer, and animal lovers.
The Board of Directors meets monthly to discuss and strategize on our goals and mission. Our work is supported by three committees:
- Training – The Training Committee evaluates applications, streamlines the processes, and builds relationships with local trainers who share our vision.
- Events and Fundraising – The Events and Fundraising committee attends hosted by rescue groups and organizes fundraisers. Right now, their focus is on making snuffle mats, a great enrichment toy.
- Marketing and Public Relations – The Marketing and Public Relations Committee spreads our message and builds relationships with partners.
Our Board of Directors
Lou and her partner, Mark, lovingly shared their lives and adventures with Spencer and now travel with Spencer’s successor, Danny Buck. Lou understands the patience and commitment it takes to establish trust with a mistreated dog. She brings accounting expertise to the board.
With a twenty-year history fostering for rescues, Cheryl’s focus is behavioral challenges, especially fearful dogs. She has fostered and trained for many midwest rescue groups and brings an understanding of their needs and priorities to the board.
Fostering for multiple rescue groups, Dan helps dogs thrive so they can find the perfect home. He has a special interest in German Shepherd Dogs and helping fearful dogs learn to trust. Dan also has emergency management skills, which help while building a non-profit.
Ann’s passion for Shiba Inus and challenging dogs has evolved through her experiences fostering and adopting fearful and reactive dogs through various rescues. She formerly served as the training coordinator for Twin Cities Pet Rescue and chairs our training committee, as well.
Lori Rockwell, DVM
Lori’s passions include building social networks, rehabilitation, rescue outreach, and behavior. In addition, she is a veterinarian who specializes in behavior and rehabilitation and a positive reinforcement trainer. Lori has also served on the board of Friends of Noah Rescue.
A Boxer lover and explorer, Marie has served on the Board of Minnesota Boxer rescue and helped set up a local rescue. She enjoys volunteer events and fosters for multiple rescue groups. Marie coordinates our snuffle mat program.
A dog trainer who works with rescue groups and a veterinary behavior technician, Jenny has served on the boards of national organizations. She is the president of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians and performs secretarial duties for the board.
A foster and adopter of fearful, small dogs, Lichele specializes in rehabilitating puppy mill survivors. She has served as both donation and public events coordinator for Wags and Whiskers and brings financial and organizational skills to the board.
A CVT and KPA-CTP trainer certified through Family Paws Parent Education, Leah is interested in daily skills, husbandry, enrichment, management, and puppies. Leah enjoys explaining the science behind positive reinforcement and believes that kindly and effectively communicating, teaching, and playing builds a strong, fulfilling relationship between dogs and humans. You can learn more about her at her website and Facebook page.
A CTC, CSAT, PCBC-A trainer and Fear Free Certified Professional, Allison Lamminen believes training can be fun for humans and their dogs. Creating realistic expectations and judgment-free learning environments for her clients, Allison specializes in separation anxiety and is passionate about the importance of mental enrichment. You can learn more about Allison at her website and her Facebook page.
A CPDT-KA trainer and member of the Pet Professional Guild and Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin, Holly Lewis studies current research as it applies to positive training. Holly specializes in helping people build trust-based relationships with their dogs and wishes to make life safe, manageable, and fun for people and their dogs. You can learn more about Holly Lewis at her website and her Facebook page.
A CVT and KPA-CTP trainer who is silver certified in low stress handling and fear free level three, Andrea seeks to improve animals’ daily interactions, veterinary visits, and the human-animal relationship. As a resource and an advocate, Andrea seeks to prevent rehoming or euthanasia due to behavior challenges while using science-based, humane training methods. You can learn more about her on her Facebook page.
A KPA-CTP and LVT, Kish believes that a common-sense approach to training leads to happy partnerships between people and their dogs and that force-free behavior modification can reduce euthanasia. To support the dogs in her community, Kish founded 4 Luv Of Dog Rescue in 2005, which has rehomed over 5,000 dogs under her leadership. You can learn more about Kish at her Facebook page and website.
A CTC, CSAT, and CPDT-KA trainer Casey is interested in canine fear and aggression. She began using force-free training after experiencing the fallout of dominance-based training methods with her own aggressive dog. To help others avoid similar experiences, Casey helps clients build great relationships with their own dogs using effective, proven training methods. You can learn more about Casey at her Facebook page and website.
The newest member of the Spencer Group team, Ashlee is a VSA trainer interested in fearful dogs, psychology, and behavior. Understanding the delicate balance families with children and pets face, Ashlee wants to work with families to help them create harmony for all members of the household. You can learn more about Ashlee at her website and her Facebook page.
A KPA, CSAT, Accredited Dog Trainer through IAABC, and Fear Free Certified Trainer, Maggie also draws on her bachelor’s degree in psychology to inform her training. From behavioral challenges to puppy enrichment, Maggie’s seeks to build a positive training community that makes training fun for humans and dogs. You can learn more about Maggie at her website and her Facebook page.
A KPA-CTP trainer who has pursued continuing education working with a variety or species, Mary Penny has volunteered at the Como Park Zoo and the Wildlife Research Center of St. Paul. Mary approaches dog training from a practical standpoint and uses positive training to build strong relationships and understanding between species.
Dr. Lori Rockwell
Veterinarian, KPA-CTP trainer, and veterinary behavior resident, Dr. Lori Rockwell specializes in behavioral work and physical rehabilitation. Dr. Rockwell believes that an animal’s physical and emotional well-being affect behavior, and she takes a step-by-step approach to training that helps clients make measurable progress. You can learn more about Dr. Rockwell at her website and her Facebook page.
A KPA-CTP and CPDT-KA trainer, Janey has been training for over twenty-five years. Using exclusively positive reinforcement, she meets clients where they are, helping them transition from traditional training methods or develop trust-based, playful relationships with their first dog. Janey helps clients motivate their dogs to be great companions and family members. You can learn more about her on her Facebook page and on her website.
A CVT and KPA-CTP trainer certified in Low Stress Handling and a Fear Free Certified Elite, Jenny Stanslaski is president of the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians. She believes sharing our homes with animals should be rewarding. Jenny addresses behavioral concerns by finding personalized solutions that work for the family. You can learn more about Jenny at her website and her Facebook page.
Marketing, Public Relations & Events
- Cheryl Gfrerer
- Maggie Pearson
- Marie Splettstoeszer
- Lichele Werner
- Ann Nasseff (Chair)
- Kelly Killorn
- Cheryl Gfrerer
- Dan Johnson-Powers
- Allison Lamminen
- Lori Rockwell