Our Team

Dr. Nikki Brown, Executive Director

Nikki has been training dogs for over 15 years. She owned and operated Premier K-9, a dog training school in Grand Ledge, MI from 2003 to 2012. She holds two master’s degrees from Michigan State University in Counseling and School Psychology and has completed her PhD with an emphasis on behavior modification. Her education and years of experience training pet dogs as well as training and breeding police dogs makes her an expert in the field. Nikki has titled many dogs to high levels in various sports such as agility, UKC obedience, K9 Pro Sports, and Protection Sports Association. She has also competed in Schutzhund. Nikki has also earned several Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International titles.

 

Auncia McCullough, Training Coordinator

Auncia is currently attending Lansing Community College and plans on transferring to Michigan State University to obtain her degree in veterinary medicine. She began as a volunteer puppy raiser with Canines for Change and later became an intermediate and task trainer before becoming the training coordinator in 2020. She has always taken pride in caring for animals and helping people since she was young. Auncia and her family have rescued, rehabilitated, and re-homed many stray animals. She has dedicated a lot of her time to volunteering with various organizations such as Guiding With Purpose (a non-profit organization dedicated to give back to the community), Potter Park Zoo, the local food pantry, and assisting with revamping visiting rooms for foster children at the State of Michigan DHS.

 

Mary McCort, Trainer

Mary started training dogs at 14 years old, and by 16 years old she was helping Pat Thomas train obedience dogs. She has worked at a breeding kennel for several years cleaning kennels, socializing, helping with breeding, and helping the puppies. She also worked at a veterinarian office grooming, cleaning kennels and assisting the doctor when needed for 8 years. She has been grooming dogs for 34 years and has trained every animal she owned (even a couple of cats). Mary has been with Canines for Change in any capacity that was needed since 2014.

 

Sarah Schertel

Sarah started with Canines For Change in 2014 as a puppy raiser, but quickly began teaching obedience classes, presenting at schools and events to educate others on service dogs, task training, and now re-certifies our returning clients. Sarah is a certified animal cruelty investigator through Code 3 Associates and Colorado State University and currently works as an Investigator for the Michigan Humane Society. She enjoys learning and continuing her education in animal law enforcement as well as dog training. At home she has three dogs of her own: Reo, Vaughn, and Ayla. Sarah’s favorite part of volunteering with Canines for Change is having the opportunity to meet the clients and see the difference each dog makes in the life of their new family.

 

Gery Rehmann, Trainer

Gery has been assisting Canines for Change in training canine heroes since 2018. Since Gery retired, he searched for an organization that would be both challenging and rewarding. He realized Canines for Change would be a good match. He has had several dogs of his own over the years which helped him understand what was needed in the training process. In addition, he has 35 years of teaching experience with early elementary children and special needs students which he says helps him in this area. Working with this population of students requires an incredible amount of patience and understanding, and these traits transfer over to the training process. The most rewarding and memorable experience Gery states is traveling to Pittsburgh to work with the clients that are receiving these highly trained service dogs. During the visit to Pennsylvania, the dog and handler bond and learn to become a team. What keeps him engaged with this organization is witnessing the remarkable benefits of all the hard work both trainers and canines put forth. Canines for Change strives to make miracles happen daily, and Gery wants to be part of it.

 

Dani Appicelli, Trainer

Dani Appicelli has been a puppy raiser with Canines for Change since February of 2019.  She has had the pleasure of raising 4 dogs in the program, starting as a puppy raiser and transitioning into an intermediate trainer. She has worked closely with other trainings at Canines for Change to train service dogs for The Oscar Project (an epilepsy foundation), military veterans, and others with special needs. She has attended multiple site visits to The Oscar Project, working closely with clients to ensure the proper relationships are cultivated for a lasting bond. Since Dani was a teenager, she knew she wanted to work with service and therapy dogs.  She spent a few years volunteering at the Capital Area Human Society, learning and understanding dog behaviors. Dani has been married for 5 years and spends most days caring for their 4 and 5-year-old children. In her spare time, she enjoys training for summer triathlons, 5k runs, and family vacations!

Tony Appicelli, Trainer

Tony Appicelli has been a puppy raiser with Canines for Change since February of 2019.  He has had the pleasure of raising 4 dogs in the program, starting as a puppy raiser and transitioning into an intermediate trainer along side his wife. He has worked meticulously with other trainings at Canines for Change to train service dogs for The Oscar Project (an epilepsy foundation), military veterans, and others with special needs. He has provided visits to The Oscar Project, working closely with clients to ensure the proper relationship have cultivated for a lasting relationship for former clients to re-certify their service dogs. Tony works full time in the auto industry.  He has been married for nearly 6 years and has 2 beautiful children.