Luisa McGinn's Story
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Luisa McGinn

Let’s Meet Luisa!

Prior to studying at the Animal Behavior Institute (ABI), I was a career Legal Support Professional and was working with the the Legal and Government Affairs Group of the New York Stock Exchange/Euronext. I had been active as a volunteer in various animal shelters and through my job with NYSE, I began volunteer work for Veterans which included focusing on fundraising projects for military canines. I then began to research how much veterans with challenges such as PTSD benefit from having a support dog. I decided to pursue my passion and seek a career in animal care in order to help shelter dogs help veterans and others with such disabling issues. Since I had no professional dog handling experience outside of owning and training my own dogs, I began my quest to become educated in the field and found ABI. 

How did you become interested in your field?

I was rescuing kittens as a child and caring for them in my garage, so animal care has really been my calling my entire life. I was doing "day care" before it was a real business! As an adult, while I was volunteering I began seeking a reputable Animal Assisted Therapy certification program and found ABI through an online search. I researched ABI and found that they were accredited, they provided adequate training, and their former students spoke very highly about how staff took a personal interest in really helping them. When I first contacted ABI, I wanted to enroll in the Assisted Therapy program and was wisely advised to first take Canine Training & Behavior and Advanced Canine Training. The best move I made was to take that advice as I still needed a marketable skill to earn a living. Thanks to their advice, I was able to find employment in the field very quickly.

Where do you live and work?

I live in Brooklyn, New York and work in New York City as the General Manager for Canine Retreat by American Kennel Club (AKC) W. 42nd Street location, which is currently the largest of their six New York City locations.

How did you benefit from your ABI experience?

The curriculum speaks for itself and I loved the ease of attending online coupled with the accessibility of the professors. I have been enrolled in both online and physical location educational establishments, and I very much favor online education. Unfortunately people underestimate an online education, however the students tend to be more focused as they choose their own studies. They can have a full time job and earn an education, and ABI made every effort to help me choose the courses that worked best for me. I also enjoy the fact that online education encourages interaction and discussion with the other students, which is great for bouncing ideas off of each other and learning from different perspectives and life experiences.

How did you complete your field requirement?

The field requirement is extremely important, and is what puts learning to work. This us helps secure a future position, as employers see it as real work experience. I completed my field requirement at the dog daycare I managed at the time, and continued working with private clients. With the field requirement, I learned techniques and handling skills from the owner/behaviorist I worked under at the dog daycare and was quickly able to solely handle and successfully manage a large group of dogs of various breeds. The experience I gained was the foundation of my growth in the animal handling and training field.

Do you have any advice for potential students or current students?

I set out to work in the field of animal care to make the world a better place by helping animals help people, and by sticking to my goals and staying true to my calling and my passion, I have achieved a successful new career in a very short time. Through very hard work and commitment, you can achieve your goals at any age!

Would you recommend ABI?

I have and will continue to recommend the Animal Behavior Institute. I plan to continue studying with them to further evolve my skill set in the field of animal care and animal assisted therapy work.

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