About our Team of Service Dog Trainers

Who We Are

Our service dog trainers and staff are here to help guide you through the process of selecting a service dog. Our team comes not only from a background of dog training, but has worked extensively with individuals with special needs, especially children. Assistance Dogs for Autism is comprised of a cast of service dog trainers that is unparalleled in the industry. Our team constantly attends conferences and seminars to keep up with the latest research, biomedical intervention, and therapies available in order to discover new methods of integrating dogs into therapies and other resources that are commonly used by families.

During the training process, we commonly work within special needs classrooms and with ABA therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. These opportunities also allow us to stay abreast of the latest methodologies and techniques that are being used by teachers and therapists. This allows us to better integrate dogs into these therapies to compound the benefits for both resources.


We often become “part of the family” with many that we work with. We strive to consistently follow-up with our families to ensure that their dog is well incorporated into their lifestyle. We understand that as kids grow up their needs will change. We work with our families to ensure that we are keeping up with the ever evolving needs of these growing children and young adults. To maintain this commitment, we offer free follow-up training for as long as you own the dog.

Our Clients Say....

"What I really appreciated was Highland’s willingness to work with us to the extent of what my child could handle. So often when people are working with people on the Autism spectrum, they don’t realize how overwhelmed the person can become and how quickly it occurs. We are able to make such progress because of the way that the trainers handled everything. Such a great experience! "
Joey B.
North Carolina

Your Team of

Service Dog Professionals

Staff of Service Dog Trainers

Erin Purgason


Jason Purgason

amber siebsen service dog

Amber Vaughn

Director, Service Dog Division
Assistance Dogs for Autism Staff

Deb Livingood

Director of Business Development
Assistance Dogs for Autism Staff

Carlos Hernandez

Service Dog Trainer
greg vaughn service dog trainer

Greg Vaughn

Service Dog Trainer

Kim Cain

Service Dog Trainer
sherry peel service dog trainer

Sherry Peel

Service Dog Trainer

Our History


Highland Canine Training, LLC opened as a full-service dog training facility with its Corporate Office located in the foothills of North Carolina.


Highland Canine Training, LLC opened its International School for Dog Trainers, dedicated to educating individuals from all over the world in the art of dog training.


Highland Canine Training, LLC officially began offering and training service dogs to assist individuals with mobility impairments.


After seeing a considerable need for affordable and well trained service dogs for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Highland Canine Training, LLC officially launched Assistance Dogs for Autism.


Our first Autism Assistance Dog "Rocket," a Standard Poodle, was delivered to her family in Florida.


Partnered with DASHA (Dedicated Animals Serving Humans Always) a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico to provide service dogs to those in need on the island.


Trained and delivered "Mia" the first ever Hearing Assistance "Signal" Dog on the Island of Puerto Rico.


We partnered with Union Grove Elementary School to begin our 'Waggy Tales' Reading Program - where service dogs in training visit schools to help improve children's confidence with reading.


Our 'Book Buddies' program with Langtree Charter Academy was launched.


We trained Solace, a Labrador Retriever, as a dedicated Therapy Dog for the Shelter Home of Caldwell County - an organization providing critical support for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.


Our trainers and service dogs in training attended the Rainbow Kidz Summer Camp. Rainbow Kidz helps children who have experienced significant trauma or grief in their lives.


Our team attended the Alexander County Picnic With A Puppy event - a community event for local families.


We partnered with Pawtism to help families obtain grants for their service dog.