About Kristen Collins
Kristen Collins, the director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Services, joined the ASPCA in August 2007. This department works closely with the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team to oversee behavior evaluations at animal cruelty cases and during disaster response efforts.
Ms. Collins’ work focuses on the evaluation and proper placement of animals seized in dogfighting, puppy mill and hoarding cases. Through specialized behavior assessments, the team gathers information to ensure the best outcome for victims of animal cruelty and provide supporting evidence for prosecution. Other duties include conducting research projects, writing and editing articles on animal behavior, and counseling pet owners via email, in-home and telephone consultations. Ms. Collins has also taught an animal-behavior practicum for the University of Illinois, taught courses on canine learning and body language for the University of Richmond’s continuing education program, lectured for local training and sheltering organizations, and presented at several professional and academic conferences.
In May 2011, Ms. Collins was part of a team that was deployed to Joplin, Mo. after a devastating EF5 tornado struck the city. In total, nearly 1,300 displaced animals were cared for, with approximately 500 being reunited with their owners and the remainder being adopted into loving homes. Because of their training and experience in interpreting animal body language, Ms. Collins and her colleagues were able to detect subtle signs of recognition in pets when they interacted with visitors who came to the shelter—a skill that went a long way in verifying that they were making the correct matches as thousands of people came to the shelter to find and claim lost pets.
Before joining the ASPCA, Ms. Collins started her career as a private animal behavior counselor and group class instructor in 2000. In 2005, she joined the Richmond (Va.) SPCA’s Behavior and Education Department and was responsible for designing and implementing behavior modification and enrichment programs for shelter dogs. Her responsibilities also included conducting behavior evaluations, supervising volunteer trainers, and teaching public obedience and agility classes. While in Richmond, Kristen conducted seminars on shelter dog training for other local animal shelters, gave agility and clicker training demonstrations for the public, and participated in humane education programs for local schools.
Ms. Collins has been interviewed by a number of national media outlets on a wide array of animal behavior-related topics. The most recent placements include USA Today, CNN.com, WebMD and Family Circle.
Ms. Collins holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior from the University of Illinois. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia, where she graduated summa cum laude, with honors, in 1999. In 2005, she graduated valedictorian and with honors from the San Francisco SPCA’s Academy for Dog Trainers and has been a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) since 2003.
Ms. Collins shares her home in Champaign, Ill., with three dogs: Juno, an eleven-year-old pacifist American pit bull terrier; Wink, a charmingly compulsive nine-year-old border collie; and Toefu, a mystery mix from a Tennessee hoarding case whose extra toes and impressive underbite endow her with unique appeal.