Rishard, Head Trainer at SDNM, has been training dogs for over 20 years, ten as a hobby and 10+ as a professional. Rishard is a disabled Veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2004 and Iraq in 2005. American Sign Language is his second language. He mentored under Tony Bendor, Master Dog Trainer in Corpus Christi, Texas while active duty Navy. He is an AKC evaluator and helps run a dog training/therapy program with AWD at the YDDC/Camino Nuevo. He trains dogs for disabled Veterans, battered women, epilepsy, youth, behavior modification and trains basic, intermediate and advanced obedience. Rishard is also a member and mentor with Albuquerque Schutzhunde. He holds his B.A. in criminology from UNM and is working on is Masters in social work from NMHU. He also teaches Kickboxing and studies FMA (Filipino Martial Arts) at Luttrell Yee's Kickboxing MMA.
Rishard volunteers at Pit Bull Awareness training at Eastside Shelter in Albuquerque where he teaches classes to pit bull and pit bull mix owners to raise awareness of the breed. Rishard brings his vast expertise in helping Veterans with individual training programs. His dog training experience and the fact he is a Veteran and brings a unique understanding to his training program is crucial to our team. We are a Veteran owned and operated endeavor with the best interest of the Veteran and their Service Dog team member.
Melanie Hubka, Administrative Assistant, is originally from New York and has over 20 years experience in administration, including work at Customs House Brokerage, State University of New York (SUNY,) and Sandia National Laboratories.
Melanie has three children, serves as a foster mother, and has four dogs and three cats, one of which is the SDNM-trained Service Dog Maddie, for her 7-year-old son. Maddie is a smart, loving and responsive dog.
After going through the SDNM training with Maddie, Melanie was inspired to start volunteering and began pursuing her dream of making a difference in the lives of others because saw the difference Bennie and her trainer Rishard make in the lives of the people that need it the most. Melanie is now full-time and enjoying every day of it. She feels so fulfilled doing this work and is dedicated to continuing to offer the best service possible to all of the SDNM client friends.
Melanie in her own words, "Service Dogs of New Mexico has not only helped change my son's life for the better but mine as well. I feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to follow my dream of making the lives of others better, through Service Dogs of New Mexico. I am proud to be serving our veterans, children and others in need."
Bennie Muliere is a Vietnam-era Veteran and Executive Director of Service Dogs Of New Mexico. With her own service-related disabilities, she started looking for a solution to help other veterans.
Bennie worked in corporate America for IBM for ten years. She's also a rodeo cowgirl and horse trainer with 30 years experience... an entrepreneur, professional model, soldier, holistic health-care provider, wanderer and animal advocate.
Bennie is certified as a Fair Housing Consultant in New Mexico and partners with a national organization to help those with service dogs in areas of housing and work discrimination. She has been very successful in mediation regarding housing, public access and dog-breed related issues.
Nuts and Bolts
Gary, Veteran and Renaissance man, is considered the "nuts and bolts" of the SDNM program. His many years in sales, marketing, customer service and transportation bring vast expertise to his integral role of planning, events, computer work and everything in between. As a member of the team, he is the builder, project manager, researcher, photographer, accountant, driver, animal transporter/caretaker, grounds-keeper, and so much more. Most importantly, he is beloved by all dogs matriculating through the SDNM program.
A native of Chicago, Gary left a successful career in sales to move to New Mexico and pursue his dream of working in the field of natural medicine to enhance the health of people, the environment and the earth. His passion for Service Dogs Of New Mexico coupled with his love of dogs, makes him an integral driving force. Gary's and his Service Dog Titan, serve as a wonderful advocate team for Service Dogs and for Pit bulls.
Ginger has a natural ability to tune into dogs and relate to their emotional and physical needs. She also communicates with the owners to help strengthen their relationship and lead the dog on the right path to a healthy, happy life.
She has many years of exemplary dog-handling experience with many types of breeds. Her dog-handling history and skillful tackling of unwanted or challenging projects defines her career and life's work. Ginger takes great pride in building/creating from the ground up to her present day volunteering/activism in the animal community.
Ginger has completed many hours of training courses/certifications, including an Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department Behavioral Internship. She is courageous and unafraid to take on challenging tasks, with drive, passion and natural leadership skills. Her superb canine handling fuels her ability to help transform a situation with very little hope to one of endless possibility.