2017 Speaker Bios

We are excited to have the following distinguished speakers speak at the 2017 Educators Conference!

Linda Knox, DVM, Veterinarian/Owner, Palomar Animal Hospital. Since elementary school, Dr. Knox had been telling everyone who would listen that she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up. When it came to apply for college, she had already settled on UC Davis, the only veterinary school in California at that time. Dr. Knox grew up in the San Fernando Valley with her mom, brother, and the family dogs. After completing her undergraduate degree in Zoology, she stayed at UC Davis for her veterinary degree, then spent another year there completing her Master’s degree in preventative medicine. She worked part-time for a small animal practice while getting her Master’s, and loved it so much that she’s still doing it to this day! Dr. Knox says her favorite days are those filled with a variety of cases—she likes the way it keeps things interesting and challenging. Her special interest is in exotic species, including rabbits, pocket pets and birds. She also loves interacting with people and appreciating the unique bonds they have with their pets. At home, Dr. Knox lives with two pets of her own: Fiona, a dog that Dr. Knox rescued from the clinic during her second year here, and Bogart, a 20-year-old Senegal parrot she hand-raised. When she’s not spending time with her pets, Dr. Knox enjoys playing tennis, bicycling, skiing, hiking, and scuba diving. She’s also an avid traveler, and has visited Europe, Australia/New Zealand, Africa, South America and many Caribbean islands to date.

Bill Guerrera, DVM, Medical Director, Bloomfield Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Guerrera graduated from Colorado State University in 2002, and has been the primary veterinarian for the Colorado chapter of House Rabbit Society ever since. In January of this year he moved his veterinary practice to a new state-of-the-art building, where 60% of his patients are rabbits. He has presented on rabbits to clubs, veterinary schools, emergency veterinary hospitals, and state veterinary conferences. In his free time, Dr. Guerrera is an avid cyclist. He travels with a group of veterinarians every summer to bicycle the famous mountains of France while catching up on the current trends in veterinary medicine. Dr. Guerrera is also well known for his website bunnyhopline.com where he blogs about rabbit health care and also offers an awesome veterinarian second opinion service for a nominal annual fee.  The service offers 24 hour response time to your health questions, with up to 20 questions per year.

Carmine Bausone, DVM, Medical Director, VCA Acacia Animal Hospital and Pet Resort, and Director of the Integrative and Holistic Medicine department. A native of Los Angeles, Dr. Bausone graduated from the University of California at Davis with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1996. He has a special interest in working with birds, rabbits, reptiles and other exotics animals in addition to his passion for providing holistic medical therapies to all species. Dr. Bausone has had extensive training in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM), and received his Certificate in Veterinary Acupuncture through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 2008. He is also trained in Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation, which is similar to Chiropractic medicine in humans. Dr. Bausone has extensive training in both chinese and western herbs. Additionally he uses laser therapy, homeopathy, bio-regulatory medicine, prolotherapy, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells to achieve healing for his patients. Dr. Bausone enjoys living in Valley Center with his wife Victoria, and their two sons. They share their home with a menagerie of pets including a tortoise, dogs, cat, parrots, chickens and horses.

Margo DeMello, PhD is President of House Rabbit Society and the Program Director for Human-Animal Studies at Animals & Society Institute, and is a nationally known expert on rabbit behavior, and in particular, the behavior of free-range domestic rabbits. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from U.C. Davis in 1995, and currently teaches at Canisius College in the Anthrozoology Masters program. She has been rescuing rabbits since 1989 and has lived with large groups of domestic, free-range rabbits since the early 1990s. She has written extensively on animals, rabbits, and human-animal studies, publishing twelve scholarly books and two dozen articles in peer reviewed journals on animal issues, including Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature (with Susan E. Davis), and the recent Mourning Animals: Rituals and Practices Surrounding Animal Death. DeMello has spoken about rabbits at major national conferences, including the Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Expo Conference and the International Society of Anthrozoologists’ annual conference.

Joy Gioia is president and chapter manager of the House Rabbit Society of Missouri – St. Louis (celebrating its 20th anniversary,) and a longtime member of the international House Rabbit Society’s board of directors. Gioia has been deeply involved in educating not only rabbit caretakers, but also veterinarians and veterinary technicians interested in rabbit medicine. Under her leadership MO HRS has planned and produced two Missouri Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) accredited rabbit veterinary conferences. Gioia also teaches the rabbit portion of the veterinary technician program for Brown Macke College in Fenton, MO. After managing the chapter headquarters and main foster house out of her own home for 16 years, she was instrumental in the acquisition and renovation of a 5,000 sq. foot building on nearly 4 acres in St. Louis County to serve as Missouri’s first free-standing, rabbits only shelter as well as their new headquarters and adoption center. Though most of her working career was focused on training in the corporate world, she has also worked as a veterinary assistant in surgery, the medical rooms, and front office and regularly attends various annual veterinary conferences to continue her knowledge. In addition to rescuing and working with domestic rabbits, Gioia is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, previously dealing with all Missouri wildlife as a supervisor, animal manager, BOD, instructor, and ICU specialist. She helped create and develop the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic in Missouri. Her specialty, expectedly, is cottontails and she has received calls for advice on orphaned and injured wild rabbits from as far away as New Zealand. When HRS decided to renew its efforts in providing more high level education via their own conferences, the first one was held in St. Louis under her guidance and she is on the conference committee for our current conference in San Diego.

Anne Martin, PhD is Executive Director of the international House Rabbit Society, headquartered at the Richmond, California Rabbit Center.  She has previously served on the board of Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary.  She received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2012, and, since joining HRS in 2013, has made a significant and visible impact on the organization. Martin has skillfully networked to create multiple new vendor relationships resulting in dramatically expanded fundraising. She quadrupled HRS’ monthly donor program in less a year, and launched a low-cost spay/neuter clinic available to all rabbit caretakers across the entire Bay Area. Having lived with rescued rabbits herself for eleven years, Dr. Martin regularly gathers and analyzes statistical data from animal shelters in the Bay Area, with the goal of reducing relinquishments and increasing adoptions. She fosters special needs and hospice rabbits at headquarters.

Dawn Sailer, MS, founded Indiana House Rabbit Society in 2001. She is now an HRS Board Director, Chapter Mentoring Committee volunteer, Chair for the HRS Emergency Committee, and Educator for Indiana House Rabbit Society. She is a scientist with 20+ years experience developing and implementing analytical and clinical diagnostic test methods for a multinational company. Dawn regularly shares her pharmaceutical knowledge on behalf of companion rabbits and was a featured speaker for the HRS Master Seminar Series where she gave lectures on ingestible parasites of rabbits and diagnostic testing and interpretation. Under her leadership, Indiana HRS placed 750 rabbits in permanent homes by 2013. In 2013, the chapter managed three enormous rabbit confiscation cases, totaling 650+ rabbits. By intensive local and interstate networking, building relationships, and transporting rabbits to rescue groups across the nation, Dawn and her team of volunteers were able to prevent euthanasia of all 650+rabbits.

Debby Widolf, an educator and fosterer for House Rabbit Society since 1998, ran a satellite chapter of Colorado HRS from 2000 to 2004.  Widolf was the manager of the Rabbit Department at the renowned Best Friends Animal Society in Utah from 2004 until 2012. In addition to her activities in outreach and advocacy, she was a regular speaker at the Best Friends’ “How to Start a Sanctuary”  workshops regarding rabbits, and a rabbit advocacy speaker at the organization’s pioneering No More Homeless Pets conference.  Widolf did the initial site assessment on the largest-ever rabbit hoarding case in Reno, Nevada (involving 1600 rabbits), and more recently assisted with the rabbit Trap/Neuter/Release project involving over 300 rabbits in Long Beach, California.

Criss Starr, MS has been volunteering with New Mexico House Rabbit Society since 2008. She became a licensed educator-in-training on the front lines of the 2009 Rio Rancho, NM hoarding case of 350 rabbits. Trained as a professional pet groomer, she has lately specialized in rabbit grooming, as well as giving presentations on rabbit care, fostering, and acting on the board of NMHRS. She lives in sunny Albuquerque, NM with her husband, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and 7 house rabbits.

Julie A. Smith, PhD received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.  She was a professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater until her retirement in 2011.  During the last half of her professional career, she published numerous articles examining the ways that western cultural creates its interpretations of animal minds and maintains its investment in those interpretations, including Experiencing Animal Minds, Columbia University Press, 2012, which she co-edited.   Her two articles on rabbits include “”Beyond [Yi Fu Tuan’s] Dominance and Affection: Living with Rabbits in Post-Humanist Households” (Society and Animals, 2003) and “Viewing the Body: Toward a Discourse of Rabbit Death” (Worldviews, 2005).  After retiring as Chapter Manager of Wisconsin HRS in 1998, she continued to write “Down the Rabbit Hole” (the rabbits-in-culture column) for the House Rabbit Journal for nine years.  When she retired, she resumed involvement in the management of the Wisconsin HRS and now serves as Co-Chapter Manager.   She is currently working on a book that explores rabbit sensory experience as a means of explaining major interpretive problems in rabbit behavior, as well as suggesting a consciousness that is radically different from the human one.

Linda J. Siperstein, DVM (“Dr. Sip”), Avian and Exotics Veterinarian, Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital, graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002, and completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in 2003.  After a first career as a radio producer, Dr. Sip was drawn back to her very first love, animals.  Rabbits have been a passion of hers since before veterinary school, so she is delighted that she now sees plenty of rabbits in her exotics-filled days at The Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital in Berkeley, California. When she’s not at work doting over her furry, feathery or scaly patients, Dr. Sip is either hanging out with her own pets (and husband), chilling in her little art studio making a creative mess, traveling, or eating the amazing food the Bay Area has to offer.

Kimberly Elman manages Best Friends Animal Society’s national outreach volunteer department. She and her team are responsible for consulting and training Best Friend’s Network Partners regarding their volunteer programs. Their goal is to assist these Partners in developing strategic, innovative, and collaborative volunteer engagement, integrated into all areas within their organization. Kimberly began her career in animal welfare by serving on the board of a rescue group in central Florida. Prior to being employed by Best Friends, Kimberly was a Best Friends volunteer for four years, taking on small and large projects with increasing levels of responsibility within the organization. Her experience is a good example of a volunteer taking on responsibilities that were once thought to be the purview of paid staff. Engaging volunteers is a great fit for Kimberly’s background in psychology, sales, customer service, and training. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, along with her canine family members, and enjoys reading, traveling, and volunteering at her local municipal shelter. She currently serves as a board member for PAL Humane Society in Las Vegas.

Alison Giese realized her love for rabbits when she got her first house rabbit in 1984. She has been a volunteer with San Diego House Rabbit Society since 2003. In 2005 she retired from the corporate world so that she could focus on her passions: being a bunny caretaker, photography, and volunteering. Since then she has been running a bunny boarding business out of her home, and has done a myriad of volunteer work for SDHRS, including the layout for their newsletter and other printed materials, ads, t-shirt designs, photography, videography, rabbit “wrangling,” education events, fostering, serving on the board of directors (2005-2008), and more. In 2008 she began doing agility with her bunnies, and in 2014 she started SDHRS’s San Diego Rabbit Agility Club. She has also been an Admin for the National HRS Facebook Group for the past three years. Alison lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea (North San Diego County) with her husband, 11 bunnies, and dog.

Sandy Parshall is Program Manager for House Rabbit Society international headquarters and a licensed HRS educator. In addition to managing the membership and adoption programs, Sandy is HRS’ in house photographer and graphic designer, and recently redesigned HRS’ publication, House Rabbit Journal. She also manages HRS’ social media presence and is a surgery assistant for HRS’ monthly spay/neuter clinic. After college, Sandy earned a commercial pilot’s license and taught both flight and ground instruction in the SF Bay Area. She lives with her husband and two house rabbits, Ella and Nora, and occasionally fosters special needs rabbits for HRS.

Patricia Mulcahy is the Treasurer and Co-Chapter Manager of San Diego House Rabbit Society that is having its 25th anniversary this year.  In 2004, Patricia started volunteering by packing hay for sale in the SDHRS Bunny Store.  Since that time she has worn many hats including President of the Board, Education Director, Events Director and one of the largest SDHRS foster home before being instrumental in the creation of San Diego’s first rabbit-only shelter/adoption center in 2014.  With the opening of the Adoption Center, her duties expanded to include the volunteer program, facilities, marketing & PR, and helping to guide the shelter staff.  In her prior life, she received a MFA in Theatrical Lighting Design after which she worked briefly on Broadway.  In the mid-eighties, she received her 100-ton Coast Guard license and worked as one of the only female charter sailboat captains in the Caribbean, taking guests out for 7 to 10 day trips.  She currently spends her time spinning yarn and weaving when she isn’t playing with her 3 bunnies and dog

Suzanne D’Alonzo has been involved in animal sheltering since 1997. After graduating from Clark University, her start in the field came accidentally, as she looked for a job in a new town. Animal Welfare was a fit and she’s never looked back. She spent 15 years at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, VA, in a variety of roles. She’s proud to have helped that shelter navigate from a dog/cat focus to one that includes all companion animals, with improved care and increased adoption of small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and reptiles! During her four years with The Humane Society of the United States she connected with shelters and rescues of all types and regularly presented nationwide. She co-authored the Adopters Welcome manual and developed a 5-part webinar series as well as accompanying tools to help animal adoption organizations put the approach into action.  A recent move to Charlotte, NC, brought Suzanne to the Humane Society of Charlotte where she serves as Vice President of Community Programs and Strategic Initiatives. She also volunteers with the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators. Her home is currently shared with family, 4 cats, a lovebird, a Beagle, and a regular parade of fosters.

Kotoyo Hoshina, PhD, moved to Wisconsin from Japan in 2005 as a researcher for the international project of the world-largest neutrino observatory. Immediately after she arrived in the US with her three rabbits, she became a member of Wisconsin HRS(WHRS). In 2007, she started volunteering at WHRS and seven years later she became an educator. She has been the webmaster and provides other technical support for WHRS website for the past five years. She got her first rabbit at a week before the Christmas of 2003, and lost her in 3 days due to diarrhea. The baby rabbit was sold at a home improvement center and she had no idea how easily baby rabbits can die. This painful experience drove her to learn more about rabbits. She started a Japanese blog to introduce the philosophy of HRS and how to care for rabbits, which was new for many Japanese rabbit owners. Today, the blog has over 400 readers daily. She wrote 6 serialized articles for a commercial rabbit magazine in Japan from 2014 to 2015, and supervised one article for another commercial rabbit magazine in 2017, which introduces how to bond rabbits. She joined Margo DeMello PhD’s study at Okunoshima (Rabbit Island) in 2015, and presented the results at the Fifth Annual World Lagomorph Conference held at the California State University, Stanlisau, in 2016.

Koushi (Kanae) Takahashi, CVT has been an educator for the Wisconsin House Rabbit Society since 2013. In 2005, she moved to the U.S. with her three rabbits from Japan and joined the WHRS. After years of volunteering for the WHRS, she decided to change her career path—in Japan, she was a technical support person, intra-database creator, and web designer. She went back to school in the U.S. and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Animal Science (B.S.) in 2015 and completed a Veterinary Technician Program at the Madison Area Technical College (MATC) in May, 2017. While learning about animals in the university, she visited Ookunoshima, better known as “Rabbit Island” with Margo DeMello in 2015 and presented the results at the Fifth World Lagomorph Conference in 2016. She also created a picture book about rabbit teeth for the Dental Day at the MATC and it will be published in the WHRS newsletter this winter.