SVBT/AVBT 2014 CE Conference:
Creating a Behavior Team for Every Practice

September 12-14, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada


Schedule of Events

Friday: 9-12-14
7:30 Shuttle
8:30-9:00 Welcome
9:00-9:50 Behavior in General Practice - Melissa Newcomb
  10 Min Break
10:00-10:50 Roles in General Practice - Melissa Newcomb, Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
  10 Min Break
11:00-11:50 Body Language in General Practice - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
  10 Min Break
11:50-12:00 Attendee Introductions
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-1:50 LAB: Dog Body Language and Managing Behavior During Visits - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
  10 Min Break
2:00-2:50 LAB: Dog Body Language and Managing Behavior During Visits - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
  20 Min Break
3:10-4:00 Muzzles and When to Sedate - Melissa Newcomb
  10 Min Break
4:10-5:00 LAB: Low Stress Muzzling - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
5:00-5:15 Survey/Certificates
5:10-7:00 Dinner Party
7:00 Shuttle
Saturday: 9-13-14
8:00 Shuttle
8:30-9:00 Oquendo tour
9:00-9:50 Small Mammal Behavior and Husbandry - Valerie Tynes
  10 Min Break
10:00-10:50 Rat Body Language and Handling LAB: Meet and Observe Your Rat - Valerie Tynes
  10 Min Break
11:00-11:50 Small Mammal Behavioral Pathology and Treatment - Valerie Tynes
  10 Min Break
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-1:50 Dog Trainer's Role in Behavioral Medicine - Laura Monaco-Torelli
  10 Min Break
2:00-2:50 Shaping Behavior Human LAB: Clicker Mechanics and Shaping - Laura Monaco-Torelli
  20 Min Break
3:10-4:00 LAB: Rat ClickerTraining-Husbandry Behavior - Laura Monaco-Torelli
  10 Min Break
4:10-5:00 LAB: Rat ClickerTraining-Husbandry Behavior - Laura Monaco-Torelli
5:15 Silent Auction Closes
5:30 Raffle Winner Chosen
5:45 Survey/Cer
6:00 Shuttle
Sunday: 9-14-14
8:30 Shuttle
9:00-9:50 Behaviorist's Role in Behavioral Medicine - Valerie Tynes
10:00-10:50 Taking a Thorough Behavioral History - Valerie Tynes
  10 Min Break
11:00-11:50 Behavioral Medications - Valerie Tynes
  10 Min Break
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-1:50 Behavior Modification and Management Techniques - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
  10 Min Break
2:00-2:50 Human LAB: Behavior Case Examples - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
  10 Min Break
3:00-4:00 Integrating Behavior into Your Practice - Alicea Schaeffer-Howell
4:30 Shuttle

Download the Schedule of Events Excel Spreadsheet

Hands-on Labs (space is limited)

Dog: Learn how to better read your canine patients and gain skills to safely and effectively manage behavior to prevent anxiety and aggression.

Rat: Learn how to use clicker training to teach husbandry behavior that will enable better patient care while minimizing stress. The techniques will be applicable to any species. Rats are excellent teachers!

  • If you are a dog trainer, working with other species will improve your timing and shaping skills.
  • If you are a clicker training newbie, this is the perfect learning opportunity as ample support will be provided.

Dogs will be on loan from a local shelter and the rats are being borrowed from Ravencharm Rattery.

Registration Fees

SVBT Member Early Bird
(until July 31)
(Aug 1-Aug 31)
(Sep 1-Sep 14)
One Day $90.00 $110.00 $135.00
Two Day $200.00 $220.00 $245.00
Three Day $310.00 $330.00 $355.00
Non-Member Early Bird Regular Late
One Day $125.00 $145.00 $170.00
Two Day $230.00 $250.00 $275.00
Three Day $340.00 $360.00 $385.00
Dog Lab n/a $60 n/a
Rat Lab n/a $40 n/a

50% Discount for a team member (dvm, vet tech, vet asst, or dog trainer). Dicount code will be sent with the registration confirmation. The code can only be used ONCE.

Download the Registration Fee chart Excel Spreadsheet

Included with Registration:

  • Daily catered lunch
  • Dinner party Friday night
  • Event T-shirt
  • Event bag with sponsor samples
  • Lecture notes on cd

Any questions please email

A silent auction will be held during Friday and Saturday. Enticing animal and behavior related items will be available for bidding. Be sure to save space in your luggage and bring some spare cash for great bargains and spirited bidding!


La Quinta Inn & Suites Las Vegas-Airport South
6560 Surrey St
Las Vegas, NV 89119


$84.00 2 Queens or 1 King
$89.00 Executive King Suite (w/Sleeper Sofa)
$109.00 Spa Suite (w/Sleeper Sofa)
$119.00 2-Room Suite (w/Sleeper Sofa)


A block of rooms is held under Society of Vet Behavior Techs
Call: (702) 492-8900

Want to cut costs and share a hotel room?
Check out Easynest and find a roommate:

*Include SVBT in the room type when you post a room to share

(This link is provided for convenience. SVBT/AVBT is in no way liable for the usage of Easynest.)


Speaker Bios

Dr Melissa Newcomb

Dr Melissa Newcomb graduated from Purdue University in 1996. She then worked in Louisville, KY before settling into private practice in Southern Indiana.
Melissa has always had a passion for behavior and “low-stress-handling” of patients. For over 15years, she has been learning and applying behavioral modification, learning theory  and training plans to not only her many patient species, but her four kids as well!

In addition to private practice, Melissa has taught courses in anatomy, physiology and animal science for two community colleges, giving her even more outlets for shaping behavior and rewarding outcome for unwitting college students throughout campus.

Currently Melissa works in a small animal and exotic practice where behavior is taken very seriously. She relishes the opportunity to increase understanding of the importance of positive behavioral modification at each and every exam and client-patient interaction.

Dr Valerie Tynes

Dr. Valarie Tynes is a native of Fort Worth Texas. She attended Texas A&M University and received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1987. She has worked in private practice, both as an associate, a relief veterinarian and a practice owner. Her special interests have always included animal behavior problems, miniature pigs and other exotic pets. She completed her residency in Clinical Animal Behavior at the University of California at Davis in 2003. She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and a frequent speaker at professional meetings around the world. She has authored numerous articles and chapters on the care of miniature pet pigs in addition to a variety of other behavior related topics. She is the editor of the recently published book The Behavior of Exotic Pets and co-editor of the Behavior issue of the Veterinary Clinics of North America- Small Animal Clinics released in May of 2014. She currently provides consulting services for zoos, pharmaceutical companies, veterinarians and pet owners.

Alicea Schaeffer-Howell

Alicea Schaeffer obtained a bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Technology in 2003. She has been working in private practice for 10 years. She has continued her education in behavior since graduation.  Alicea has been training dogs since 2000 and began teaching organized classes in 2004. She was one of only three technicians who met the qualifications to sit for the first exam for the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians, and after passing the exam earned her VTS (Behavior) in July 2010.

Her current responsibilities include teaching behavior modification to veterinary and veterinary technician students, as well as instructing continuing education seminars for 4-H members, 4-H leaders, veterinary technicians, veterinarians, and trainers. She also works as a behavior technician in a busy four doctor practice where her responsibilities include: organizing and teaching puppy kindergarten, counseling new pet owners, assisting in behavior consultations, desensitizing reactive patients to veterinary procedures, triaging behavior problems and implementing behavior modification protocols, and performing pre-purchase counseling.

Ms. Schaeffer also serves on the board of both the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians and the Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians.

Laura Mondao-Torelli

Laura is the founder and director of Animal Behavior Training Concepts in Chicago. She and her training team collaborate with clients and veterinary professionals to provide high-quality care for the dogs and other animals in their clients’ lives. Their motto, “Explore the Joy of Learning Together,” guides how they share the benefits of positive reinforcement training in group classes, individual sessions, and seminars.

Laura believes training should be fun, exciting, and educational for both people and their animal companions. Her unique professional background, which encompasses animal training, public and outreach programs, and educational seminars, allows her to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment for each group and individual client.

Laura began her professional animal training career in 1991 at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, and in 2000 moved from marine to terrestrial animals, working for the San Diego Zoo as a lead keeper and then Brookfield Zoo as a supervisory lead keeper. In the zoo and aquarium community, she has trained a wide variety of species, including beluga whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Alaskan sea otters, harbor seals, river otters, penguins, primates, large cats, reticulated giraffes, birds of prey, horses, parrots, macaws, tree kangaroos, red pandas, and dogs. These experiences have provided numerous opportunities to teach animals to cooperate in their daily husbandry care—a priority she has brought with her to the companion animal realm. 

Laura founded Animal Behavior Training Concepts in 2004 to help pet owners enhance their relationship with their animals through the same principles of positive reinforcement and continuing education that she cherished in the exotic animal training world. 

In 2011, Laura established a partnership with veterinary behaviorist John Ciribassi, Animal Behavior Partners, to direct clients and veterinarians to the appropriate type of help for behavior problems. She is also a staff trainer at Dr. Ciribassi’s practice, Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants, and faculty for the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behavior.

Laura has presented at the professional training conferences for the International Marine Animal Trainer's Association, the Animal Behavior Management Alliance, and the Interdisciplinary Forum for Applied Animal Behavior, as well as for ClickerExpo, the Chicago Veterinary Behavior Symposium, and Western Illinois University's Zoo & Aquarium Studies graduate program. 

She particularly enjoys sharing her experience with future veterinarians. The APVMA (American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association) invited her to speak at its 2009 symposium, hosted by the University of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine in Champaign-Urbana, and at the 2010 symposium, at Purdue University. She has also presented on exotic and domestic animal husbandry for the behavior clubs at Ross University, Purdue University, and University of Illinois veterinary schools.

Laura has been featured on television and radio, including WGN's Steve Dale's Pet World, WGN Midday News and NBC 5 Chicago News, and in the Chicago Tribune and Quad-Cities Online Dispatch-Argus. She has written numerous training articles for Karen Pryor Clicker Training and coauthored an article for Clean Run with Dr. Karen London. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior regularly features her training videos in its blog and newsletter.

Laura and her husband share their lives with a spirited, energetic, and entertaining Rhodesian ridgeback and two lively cats.


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