William S. Thornton
CEO & Co-Founder of British Columbia Guide Dog Services
Bill’s guide dog career began in 1977, when he joined the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (U.K.). In March 1980, Bill graduated as an accredited Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. In 1984 Bill founded Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (Ottawa), where he served as President and CEO from 1984 to 1995.
Bill is a Charter Member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), a 94-member global organization founded in 1988. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1990, serving a total of 14 years. In 1992, Bill was appointed as an International Assessor for the International Guide Dog Federation, and has accredited schools in England, Ireland, Japan and Australia. He is the past Chair of the IGDF’s Accreditation Committee.
In 1996, Bill co-founded British Columbia Guide Dog Services, then launched Alberta Guide Dog Services as a division of BC Guide Dog Services in 2002. In partnership with BC Guide Dog Services, Bill has taken a leading role in the founding of Autism Support Dogs to help autistic children aged 4 to 10.
In 2006, Bill was awarded the International Guide Dog Federation Ken Lord Award for exceptional services to the guide dog movement.
Director, Breeding and Puppy Raising, Co-Founder British Columbia Guide Dog Services
Linda attended St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario where she specialized in Animal Health Technology. After her training she moved to Ottawa and worked as a veterinary technician for 15 years.
In her capacity as Breeding and Puppy Raising Director, Linda oversees the Breeding Program and is responsible for the puppies that are placed with our Puppy Raising families.
Carol Bunker, CGA
Carol has been with BC & Alberta Guide Dogs since 2012 and enjoys being involved in such a worthwhile charity. She received her C.G.A. designation in 1997, but has been accounting and budgeting for as long as she can remember. Previous to BC & Alberta Guide Dogs, Carol worked in the private sector as a financial consultant for companies involved in specific long-term projects. She currently lives in Tsawwassen with her family and their dog Comet.
As our frontline person, most initial contacts with the organization are made through Bernadette! Joining BC & Alberta Guide Dogs in 2005, Bernadette’s background is in office administration and bookkeeping — skills she puts to good use keeping all our important records well-organized.
Christine joined BC & Alberta Guide Dogs in July 2013, following an 18-year career with a company that grew and marketed ginseng. Chris is excited to join the team and brings with her many years of experience in administrative and human resources roles in both the public and private sector.
Jan lives in Ladner with her husband and two dogs and loves being greeted at her door by the dogs… usually bearing gifts of bones, toys or socks. Knowing how much comfort and support her own dogs provide her, Jan is thrilled to be working with us again and is moved by the stories from our clients about how their service dog has changed their lives.
The best part of her day is talking to donors about how their support can make a tremendous impact in the life of someone who is blind or visually impaired, or for a child with autism.
Jan worked for BC & Alberta Guide Dogs for a few months in 2015, and after some time off, has recently re-joined the organization. Prior to joining BC Guide Dogs, Jan worked for Canadian Blood Services, the BCIT Foundation, and most recently, the Looking Glass Foundation.
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Michael joins BC and Alberta Guide Dogs with a well-rounded background in communications and public relations, including stints with the Lookout Society, Fraserside Community Services, Metro Vancouver Regional District and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. In his other roles he has been responsible for large projects such as annual reports, creating websites and rebranding organizations.
Prior to that, Michael spent 20 years in newspapers, working as an award-winning reporter and editor. His educational background includes a degree in Communications and diplomas in Public Relations, Multi-Media and Website Design.
Manager, Puppy Sponsorship
Louise is a long-time resident of Ladner and absolutely loves living here. She enjoys living here because of the businesses and residents who care about each other’s personal and economic wellbeing.
Louise enjoys local outdoor opportunities such as cycling the Millennium Trail and Westham Island, coffee and cookie at Westham Island Herb Farm, fresh produce and photo opportunities and visits to Emma Lea Farms, Cropthorne Farms, and Angel Estate Winery. She and her husband can often be found launching their kayaks at Sharkey’s for a quiet evening paddle, accompanied by their two dogs Amber and Gin wearing puppy life jackets.
Louise is a huge advocate for local business and developing positive community relations. She comes to BC & Alberta Guide Dogs from the Delta Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre where she served as the Member Relations Manager.
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor
Nick joined Guide Dogs for the Blind in the UK in 1988 and became a fully qualified Instructor in 1991. Prior to his guide dog career, he was a Royal Air Force Police dog handler working at strike command facilities throughout the UK. He also spent time as part of the R.A.F demonstration team, performing to thousands of people including members of the British Royal family. Nick worked for two guide dog schools in the USA prior to joining BC & Alberta Guide Dogs in September 2013. To date, Nick has successfully trained approximately 140 guide dog teams and is looking forward to increasing that figure as a proud member of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs.
Puppy Training Supervisor, Vancouver Island
Samantha joined the BC & Alberta Guide Dogs team in spring 2017 after moving from Ontario to BC with her partner and their rescue pup Lump. Samantha brings experience from Lions Foundation of Canada/Dog Guides where she worked in the Puppy Program for 3 years. She also has a background in volunteer management, previously coordinating volunteers at Canada’s largest safe walk program at the University of Western Ontario, where she also completed a Bachelor of the Arts. Following her undergraduate degree, Samantha completed a certificate in Animal Care at Sheridan College. Samantha is certified through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers and is a member of the Vancouver Island Animal Training Association. Work and life overlap for her. She’s raised a number of future service dogs herself, giving her unique insight into this important work. With a positive approach to problem solving and a love of working with people and dogs, she brings enthusiasm and dedication to the Puppy Supervisor team.
Puppy Training Supervisor, Lower Mainland
Born and raised in Switzerland alongside two Tibetan terriers and a menagerie of other pets, Matthias always dreamed of working with animals. His experiences traveling, working and living abroad eventually led him to Vancouver where he started working with dogs. In addition to several years of professional experience, Matthias is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, certified professional dog walker and has volunteered with Pacific Assistance Dogs Society.
Matthias has developed a solid theoretical and practical foundation in dog behaviour and training strategies. He continues to learn from a wide variety of literature and personal experiences, resulting in a comprehensive skill set and an unwavering level of enthusiasm for helping each puppy trainer/dog team understand and overcome their specific challenges. He loves working with people as much as working with dogs and gets a real kick out of helping the puppy trainers progress.
Autism Support Dog Apprentice Instructor
Michelle is excited to join BC & Alberta Guide Dogs and combine her love of dogs, passion for working with children, and interest in supporting people with autism. Michelle has worked with children and youth in a variety of recreational settings, including coaching soccer for Royal City Youth Soccer Club for 9 years. She has also worked as a Behaviour Interventionist with children with autism and volunteered as a coach for an adapted soccer program, providing 1-on-1 coaching to children with physical and development disabilities. Michelle looks forward to starting a career that allows her to make a significant difference in people’s lives and play with dogs every day.
Autism Support Dog Apprentice Instructor
Before joining B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs, Danielle was with the Vancouver Aquarium where she worked as the senior marine mammal trainer.
Danielle is a dual apprentice with the Autism Support Dog and Guide Dog programs. Danielle is passionate about positive reinforcement training and has spent the past 11 years training a variety of marine mammals, including sea lions, dolphins and sea otters. She has also spent the last three years helping teach local Puppy, Level 1 and Reactive dog training classes in the Tri-Cities area.
Danielle likes to spend her free time with her rescued Dachshund/Corgi mix breed pup and says she has a minor obsession with anything wiener dog related.
Guide Dog Mobility Apprentice Instructor
Erika Schwuchow joined the BC & Alberta Guide Dogs team as a Guide Dog Mobility Apprentice Instructor and has previously worked with animals as a Certified Veterinary Assistant and is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the International Academy of Canine Trainers. Erika spent many years volunteering in her community as a sports coach and assisted with behaviour training for dogs at the local animal shelter. She is passionate about working with dogs, spending time outdoors and meeting new people. Erika is looking forward to furthering her knowledge in dog training and behaviour and helping make a difference in other people’s lives.
Manager, Communications and Marketing
Puppy Training Supervisor
Sandra joined BC & Alberta Guide Dogs in 2012 and has been running the Alberta Puppy Training Program. She thoroughly loves working with our dedicated puppy trainers and their pups. Sandra graduated in 1995 from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education degree. After spending six years teaching music and math at the junior high level, Sandra left the teaching field to stay at home and raise her two sons.
Manager, Development & Communications
Trish joined our team in January 2015, coming to us from the Calgary Zoological Society, bringing with her over 15 years of experience in environmental education management. She is passionate about people, animals, travel and contributing to the community. She is excited to add her skill set to our Alberta team and is thrilled to be working for an organization that provides such a positive and significant impact on people’s lives. Trish also considers herself to be very well trained by her black lab, Kwando!