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Meet our Handlers

PADs could not exist without the talented, dedicated, ongoing and dependable support of the many handlers who bring their dogs, day after day, to PADs for medical detection training exercises. The PADs program is ideally located on San Juan Island, home to many retired professionals who willingly add their areas of expertise and experience to the Program, and many of whom are dog owners who enjoy the experience of working with their amazing dogs.

Amber Chenoweth, Handler of Shugga

Amber is a former Microsoft project management consultant who now has two businesses on San Juan Island, San Juan Island Pet Watch (Animal Care Service) and Amber Chenoweth Photography. Both have Facebook pages. Amber is well known and respected in the pet care community on San Juan Island, and prior to enrolling her dog, Shugga, in PADs, she volunteered her time as a substitute handler in PADs.

Ann Harris, Handler of Dez and Quil

Ann is a retired academic from the University of Washington who has ties to San Juan Island going back to 1970. The PADs for Parkinson’s Program was a natural fit for Ann since her dogs have been Animal Assisted Therapy dogs working in schools and hospitals. Ann’s grandmother succumbed to Parkinson’s Disease, so Ann has an added investment of her heart in the Program.

Bill Moore and Richard Lind, Handlers of Rudi

Bill and Richard spent many years together in Seattle before settling down on San Juan Island in 2015. Bill worked as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor at several Seattle colleges, and Richard is an acclaimed musician who performed as an organist and choirmaster.

Barbara Wright, Handler of Mia and Sasha

Barbara is a long-time islander who retired from public service after working many years with San Juan County’s Public Works Department. The PADs Program has special significance for Barbara since her mother’s youngest sister has Parkinson’s Disease, and a friend recently passed from the disease. Barbara sees the potential that the PADs Program has for the lives of people dealing with Parkinson’s Disease.

Carolyn Haugen, Handler of Rowan

Carolyn volunteers and serves for many cause-worthy organizations on San Juan Island. Carolyn works with Parkinson’s support groups to help with collecting donor samples for PADs, and she finds this outreach especially rewarding since her husband, David, passed from Parkinson’s Disease. Carolyn is dedicated to helping PADs with training for the early detection of Parkinson’s with the objective that early detection can provide life-prolonging benefits.

Holly Harbers, Handler of Topper

Holly has made San Juan Island her home since 2000 when she became involved in volunteer work. Her gift of volunteer service has included providing transportation services for the Mullis Senior Center, helping at the local animal shelter, Wolf Hollow, San Juan Community Theater and Hospice. Today, she enjoys working as a driver for San Juan Transit, and helps island visitors to discover the wonders of island life and environment. From early on, Holly recognized how her dog, Topper, enjoyed the game of sniffing, and was happy to enlist her dog and his nose to provide promise for early detection and help combat this devasting disease.

Judy Chovan, Handler of Ajax

Judy and husband, Bob Stavers, retired to San Juan Island in 2001. Judy loves to travel and volunteer overseas, so frequently Ajax is in the good hands of her husband or favored pet sitter. Judy and Bob love the idea of helping the burgeoning field of canine scent detection of medical conditions, and both have family and friends that are enduring horrible suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.

Judy Okulitch and Tim Kopet, Handlers of Hudson

Tim holds a Ph.D. as a licensed clinical and school psychologist and currently practices in the San Juan Islands. Tim's wife, Judith Okulitch, holds a M.S. and is a retired State of Oregon employee. Judith remains active as a consultant for national community and program development efforts. Tim and Judith enjoy being involved in the pioneering work of PADs, and are pleased to be a part of a dedicated, professional PADs team. An added bonus for them is the special time they spend with their dog, Hudson, while at PADs.

Katy Barsamian, Handler of Ella

Katy worked for many years as a litigation paralegal prior to transitioning to San Juan Island. Katy’s mother-in-law struggled through the end of her life with Parkinson’s Disease, and Katy was very involved with her care. Katy also has close friends whose lives have been impacted by PD, including one friend who was diagnosed at 38 years of age, and another who was misdiagnosed and suffered from adverse treatment. These experiences have made Katy a highly committed handler at PADs, and Katy states that her involvement in the Program has helped to enhance both her life, and that of Ella’s, with bonding and fulfillment. 

Matt Clausen, Handler of Levi

Matt came to San Juan Island from Colorado where he was involved in a number of public service positions as a park ranger, firefighter, law enforcement officer and wildlife officer. Matt, along with his wife, Amy, operate a horse farm and orchard on San Juan Island. Matt has been a professional dog handler for many years and instantly recognized the value of enrolling Levi in the medical detection program for Parkinson’s Disease.

Rami Amaro, Handler of Buster

Rami is an experienced trial attorney, administrative law judge, arbitrator, mediator, legal instructor and special deputy attorney general. On San Juan Island, Rami puts her extensive legal expertise and experience to work for pro bono causes and helps PADs with navigating through the challenges of medical detection work. Rami became aware of the PADs Program through articles in the news, and volunteered to enlist her dog, Buster, in the Program when Buster showed her he could sniff out cancer.

Sarah Shorett, Handler of Russell

Sarah has strong family ties to San Juan Island going back for many generations. Sarah has always had an affinity for animals and is a licensed veterinary technician. Sarah volunteers for Hospice of San Juan and is a regular volunteer at PADs. While visiting the San Juan County Fair in 2017, Sarah stopped by the PADs information booth, and made the decision to enroll her dog, Russell, in PADs because as she says, “he has quite a nose on him.”