• “Certification Pet Parents Can Trust”



The Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC)

The Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) is a non-profit organization that aims to recognize and certify high-quality professionals in the animal care industry. The PACCC was established by a team of industry experts to help educate pet parents on the importance of investing in a pet care provider’s education and training. By using industry-developed standards, independent certification identifies the best animal care professionals in the industry. This reputable and objective third-party certification benefits both providers and pet parents alike. PACCC offers three levels of certification to recognize the extensive knowledge required at various career levels in the industry: Certified Professional Animal Care Provider (CPACP), Certified Professional Animal Care Manager (CPACM), and Certified Professional Animal Care Operator (CPACO).

Who is PACCC?

The Professional Animal Care Certification Council is an organization founded by Charlotte Biggs and Susan Briggs, veterans of the pet care services industry. It aims to provide independent certification for pet care service providers. The organization is guided by a Board of Directors with extensive experience in the animal care industry and proven business skills. PACCC has hired a professional and experienced testing company to help develop and manage the certification testing program.

PACCC’s Mission

The mission of the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) is to bring independent testing and certification to the pet care services industry. Independent certification is an important step for a rapidly growing, easy-to-enter industry frequently damaged by news reports of serious pet accidents and deaths. Professionals that pass stringent testing, which reflects a professional’s broad base knowledge of animal care, will receive a 3-year certification.

The mission of the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) is to bring independent testing and certification to the pet care services industry. Independent certification is an important step for a rapidly growing, easy-to-enter industry frequently damaged by news reports of serious pet accidents and deaths. Professionals that pass stringent testing, which reflects a professional’s broad base knowledge of animal care, will receive a 3-year certification.




Meet the PACCC Board of Directors

Amy Hillis, CPACO


Amy is Social Pet’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Childhood Education from Ohio University and a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She also earned her Certificate of Leadership and Change from Queens University of Charlotte. During her time as a teacher and administrator, she recognized the power of differentiating instruction to meet each child’s individual needs and has worked to translate that to the pet care industry. Amy has a passion for raising awareness of the need for independent certification in the pet care industry and currently serves as the Chair of the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) board and the chair of the International Boarding and Pet Services Association (IBPSA) Education Committee. She is also a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator. Amy lives in Fort Mill, SC with her husband, human son, and 3 dogs.

Nichole Bennett, CPACO

Secretary | CEU Committee Chair

In 2015, Nichole and her family turned their dream of creating a safe, healthy, and fun space for dogs into a reality when they opened Biscuits Doggie Daycare in Tacoma, Washington. Born and raised in Lakewood, Washington, Nichole graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Being well-educated in everything “dog” is very important to Nichole – she attended the Northwest School of Canine Studies and became certified in Canine Studies in May of 2016 and became a Pet Tech Pet First Aid and CPR Instructor the same year. Nichole will never stop pursuing new opportunities for learning and growth and is excited to help carry on the mission of the PACCC.


Jenn Dahinten, CPACO


Jenn Dahinten became the owner, and operator of Royal Pets Hotel and Enrichment in 2009 and founded the charitable “Racers Fund”, for retired service dogs shortly after. Having been a pet parent and client of pet care facilities on four different continents she relished the opportunity to provide the kind of loving care, expertise, and professionalism that she always felt our fur family deserved. Before joining the pet care industry, Jenn first was a paramedic (human). Jenn studied Biochemistry at the University of Guelph, Ambulance and Emergency Care at Conestoga College, and then Advanced Life Support Paramedic (L3) at the University of Natal. During her years of providing air/ground emergency care across continental Africa, Europe, and the UK, Jenn was also active in providing veterinary assistance at local small animal practices and shelters. During a subsequent career in pharmaceutical sales, marketing, and training, Jenn returned to Canada and discovered her calling in the pet care and education industry. From the start, Jenn has been an advocate for fear free practices across grooming and training and has ensured that Royal Pets has been at the forefront of setting the standard in pet care. Royal Pets has been a part of both the IBPSA and The Dog Gurus since their inception and is proud to be an active member of the APDT, Fear Free ™ Organization, and PACCC. Jenn continues to provide education and training opportunities locally and within her industry and continues to champion continuing education, certification, regulation, and professionalism as some of the many necessary means to guarantee our pets get the care and attention they deserve.


Tara Crouse, Pet Parent

Board Member

Tara Crouse is PACCC’s Pet Parent Board member and Marketing Professional who is responsible for providing an unbiased perspective on everything PACCC does. Tara’s passion for animals began at a young age when she would visit neighbors to play with their dogs. She’s been a pet owner since childhood and currently lives with her husband and fur kids in New Brunswick, Canada. Her professional work experience includes over 14 years of Consulting experience. She enjoys collecting survey data for the Pet Care industry and has presented some of her findings at the IBPSA Pet Care Conference. Tara has also taught Marketing courses at the University of New Brunswick and worked with the local SPCA on Marketing and Education initiatives. She is passionate about the work that PACCC does and believes independent certification in the pet care industry is imperative for the safety and wellness of all pets.


Janie Budnick, CPACO, CPACP

Board Member

Janie Budnick founded 4-Legged Kids, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1997 after nearly a decade of animal education including pursuing her Bachelor’s in Animal Science at Mizzou and veterinary technician training. 4-Legged Kids provides dog walking and pet sitting services as St. Louis’ largest staffed in-home pet care service. 4-Legged Kids exists to maintain and support the connection between pets and people because Life With Pets is Life Well Lived ™. The Company’s mission combines love for the amazing pets and families of St Louis with the social responsibility necessary to provide for those homeless animals not as fortunate. Their One-for-One business model provides a meal to a local homeless pet for every service provided. Janie has spent the last two decades working directly with local rescue, from personally pulling dogs and puppies from death row and preparing them for fosters to serving on the governing board of Open Door Animal Sanctuary, the largest no-kill shelter in the State of Missouri. She is also mama to four cats and four “2-legged kids”. Her expertise in the industry has led her to develop online education and strategic planning courses for other dog walkers and pet sitters. She is excited to be part of the change that PACCC is bringing to the in-home pet care industry.


Kathy Hennessy, Pet Parent

Board Member

Kathy is a Pet Parent Board member who is a vocal advocate for everything PACCC stands for. She is a pet parent to two giant and high-energy dogs who benefit from a well-structured day camp program and who occasionally require boarding. She has also adopted a donkey who lives at the Irish Donkey Sanctuary and whom she was able to visit while on vacation. It was while seeking the best care for her first dog that Kathy learned about the lack of training requirements or regulations in the pet care industry. She now believes that instead of having regulated standards, a certified provider demonstrates a commitment to standards, safety, care, and accountability that more pet parents would insist on if they were also aware. In her professional life, Kathy has almost 20 years of experience with technical documentation and instructional design which has helped to fuel her passion for educating pet parents on what independent third-party certification means and the level of comfort that it can bring to a pet parent wanting to ensure the best for their family and community. Kathy also provides volunteer support for local rescue groups by helping with dogs in foster care.


Jennifer van Garderen, CPACO

Board Member

Jennifer is the Chief Operating Officer for Kennelwood Pet Resorts, a 10-location pet care business in the St. Louis area. Jennifer began her career in the pet care industry in 2001. During that time, she has worked in many areas of pet care, including Day Camp, Customer Service, Marketing, and leadership roles.

 “I love leading a team of such dedicated pet professionals. We are tasked with keeping pets safe and finding new ways to enrich their lives. I do not take these tasks lightly and value every opportunity to brighten the day of an employee, customer, and pet.” Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communications from Lindenwood University, is a Certified Professional Animal Care Operator, and is Pet CPR and First Aid certified through Pet Tech.


Rich Schlatter, CPACP

Board Member

Rich has been in the professional pet care industry for twenty years holding various management positions and is currently the General Manager of K9 Resorts Luxury Pet Hotel in Hamilton, NJ.
Along with being a Certified Professional Animal Care Provider with PACCC, Rich holds a long list of canine care certifications on his resume’. With pet care as his passion, Rich feels strongly that there is a great need for independent certification in pet care, and is excited about the vision and mission of PACCC.

Sami Engle, CPACO

Board Member

Sami is the Director and co-owner of Pender Pet Retreat and PenderAIR international pet shipping in Northern Virginia. Having started as a kennel assistant at Pender Veterinary Centre in high school, Sami worked in increasingly progressive clinical roles over the next 14 years, eventually moving on to the Pender management team as the Manager of Veterinary Relations and eventually the Human Resources Director. During her years as a Hospital Manager, she achieved Veterinary Hospital Managers Association (VHMA) board certification in Veterinary Hospital Management (CVPM) after graduating from the Veterinary Management Institute at Purdue University in 2014. In October of 2017, she transitioned from the main hospital in Fairfax to the Pender Chantilly campus as Operations Director. Most recently, Sami completed her MS in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland and achieved her PACCC CPACO certification. Coming from the veterinary profession that relies very heavily on credentialing and education, she is very excited to bring more awareness to PACCC certification as a much-needed standardization and continuation of the care provided to our pets outside of the medical field. A small-scale homesteader spends her days outside of work caring for her two horses, one pony, four cats, four goats, twenty chickens (and one duck that thinks she’s a chicken), two parrots, one toddler, and a large veggie garden.