Our Founder

Founder - Stephanie Gerken
Helping Others Pawsitively Every Day

I earned a degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Biology and Chemistry from Cal State Long Beach, and was accepted into the Exotic Animal Training Management program at Moorpark College, CA in 2004. I worked with a coyote, fox, bald eagle, lemurs, and many other animals. Each offered me the opportunity to explore various ways of training, as I also attended conferences to keep up to date on the ever-changing world of training domestic and exotic animals.

Upon graduation from Moorpark College in April of 2006, I moved to Las Vegas and began working with a major pet retail store as a Certified Dog Trainer. I taught group classes ranging from beginner to advanced levels of obedience; private lessons at the store and a board and train program. My passion for training took me to new levels of learning in behavior modification training, agility training, and basic obedience training.

In 2008, I left the pet retail world to work on another aspect of dog training; the home environment, providing real life solutions in the real world.

In June 2011, I became a Certified Service Dog Trainer at Bergin University of Canine Studies. I spent my days researching, learning, training, and taking care of dogs of various ages, to prepare them for a life of helping others. I certified my first hearing impairment Service Dog in October 2011. I am currently working with several individuals as I train their own dogs to become Service Dogs for various medical and psychological disorders.

In late 2011, I became a volunteer for the All American Dogs Foundation, founded by veterans to help fellow veterans lead a more independent life through the use of a Service Dog. I helped raise one of the first puppies for the program, implemented training protocols, and created files for each of the dogs that detailed their training development.

August 2012, my husband and I became puppy raisers for Freedom, a Golden Retriever. Freedom is our first Service Dog for Michael's Angel Paws. Freedom was generously donated from Spring Mountain Kennels, WA. We have spent countless hours training, socializing, and teaching him how to behave as a Service Dog in public.

September 2013, we welcomed our first daughter, Addyson, to our family of three, four legged kids. She has brought so much joy and love to my life. She is truly our little miracle.

December 2013, Freedom was placed with his veteran after 18 months of training. The two are doing fabulous together and it has been an amazing journey to watch Freedom's veteran lead a more independent life. I cried tears of joy as I passed the leash to his veteran, and then he cried tears of joy knowing I would miss my little man. It was all worth it and I would do it again.

November 2014, brought the arrival of our second daughter, Madelyn Rose! I'm so happy that my heart is ready to explode with the amount of joy these two little ones bring to my life.

September 2015, we celebrated our fifth year as a non profit, this is AMAZING!! We have huge dreams and can't wait to see it come to life.

February 2016, the idea of Michael's Place began. A place for all dogs things think of it has a community center just for dogs.

April 2018, we welcomed Leo into our home after losing Sheasta in November 2017. Leo began his life as a service dog in training but has since transitioned to a our pet dog after being career changed. Even though his journey as a service dog came to an end he has helped train several other service dog in training over the last two years.

January 2020, making Michael's Place a reality, never give up no matter what happens.

I am truly grateful that Michael's story lives on to help others.

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