PUP-E Behavior Initiatives-

Preventing Unwanted Pet Euthanasia

Click on the icon to follow the SPOTS students of Felix Varela High School Veterinary Sciences Magnet program and their rescue dogs!

Click on the icon to follow the SPOTS students of Felix Varela High School Veterinary Sciences Magnet program and their rescue dogs!


SPOTS (Students Providing On Campus Training Services) is a program within the PUP-E initiative. SPOTS is a collaborative partnership between Felix Varela High School AgriScience program and the Miami Veterinary Foundation.

Under the direction of Lead Teacher, Yleana Escobar, students apply to be selected to participate in the SPOTS program. The Students, in conjunction with their parents, must agree to provide all the husbandry and training for the 6-9 dogs selected to be the dogs in training. The selected students are given a canine partner. The students foster the dogs at the high school.These dogs are trained with science based positive reinforcement techniques to prepare them for adoption in to a permeant loving home.

Dr. Ashby, Director of the program, oversees selection of the volunteer trainers who work within the program to ensure that all training methods chosen are science based, positive reinforcement, fear and pain free methods and meet veterinary standards of care.

Susan Claire, CPDT-KA the lead trainer also serves as Assistant Director to Dr. Ashby as well as the Coordinator of the SPOTS program. Sandra Machado,CPDT-KA,VSPDT, Christine Geschwill, CPDT-KA, Heather Deeley, CPDT-KA and Chris Septer all serve as volunteer trainers for the program. Dogs in the program go thru obedience training and enrichment training that includes agility, nose work and trick training. Each dog graduates the program after having been tested and achieving the AKC Canine Good Citizen designation. Upon completion of the program the dogs are ready for adoption to permanent loving homes.

Please follow the SPOTS dogs on their Facebook Page

PUP-E Initiatives

The PUP-E Initiative (Preventing Unwanted Pet Euthanasia), is an initiative chaired by board member Dr. Karen Ashby. Dr. Ashby’s exposure to shelter medicine while working at Animal Services created a sensitivity to the number of animals turned over to the shelter due to behavior problems. Unfortunately behavior issues continue to be the #1 reason people turn dogs over to shelters. These surrenders often lead to euthanasia of the pet. Dr. Ashby created the PUP-E Initiative to focus on the behavioral aspects of veterinary care to help as many pets relinquished for behavior challenges as possible.

Dr. Ashby organizes multiple educational seminars on the science of behavior for both veterinarians, trainers and the general public. Part of the PUP-E Initiative includes providing education on the science of behavior and positive reinforcement, fear and pain free training. The SPOTS program is a PUP-E Initiative as well as the educational seminars and special events held periodically.

Dr. Ashby and volunteer dog trainers who wish to be part of any PUP-E Initiative are screened for their knowledge and commitment to positive reinforcement and force free training methods. PUP-E volunteer trainers provide training, education and support to the community of pet owners as well as to veterinarians. Dr. Ashby works with veterinarians certified in behavior as well as certified animal behaviorists to remain at the forefront of the science of training and assuring that all training meets the standard of veterinary care.