Erica Gates

Erica dreamed of having her own Service Dog to assist her with the Celiac Disease in her every day life. Her story with us began when she requested for information. Erica had recently recieved her  Physical Education Major with a Health Minor and did not realize that God had another plan in mind. She was thinking of a Service Dog, He was thinking of her Careers. 

With Erica's background in training dogs through a local 4-H group growing up, she has always loved spending time with dogs and learning along side of them.  After a year of waiting and longing for God to show her what to do, He opened the next the door at the perfect time. Erica came to our DOIT, Dog Obedience Training program and absolutely fell in love with the work. Next, she specialized in detection.

Erica has Celiac and now trains our Gluten Detection Service Dogs for CST. She has learned an incrediable amount of knowledge on how to best keep herself and others healthy! 

Meet the Team

Susan Bass
Training Director, Founder
Laurie Volpe
Senior Trainer

Laurie graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1987 with a degree in Communications. This helped build a strong foundation for her 25 years in customer service both in the corporate world as well as with her own training companies. Laurie has professionally trained dogs for over 15 years and has also owned and operated two successful training companies.

Laurie attended Canine Specialty Training for the first time back in 2006 while enrolled in the D.O.I.T. Dog Obedience Instructor Training program. “The experience opened my eyes to how much more there is to learn and discover about dogs, their potential, and the human-canine bond.” Over the next few years, Laurie returned for scent work training. Later she specialized and refined her work in Allergen/Gluten detection, Seizure Alert and response, and Diabetic Alert and response Service Dogs.  She was hired by Canine Specialty Training and currently specializes in Seizure Alert/Response and Diabetic Alert Service Dogs. “ I have enjoyed working with Canine Specialty Training LLC and their clients for ten years now.” When asked, “Is it hard to say good-bye to the Service Dogs after they have lived with you while being trained?  Her reply is always No, because she knows how important the job they have with their very own person. The first time they alert to a seizure or plummeting blood sugar levels, is the most gratifying  and a job I am highly honored to have!”  When not training for CST, she enjoys training and competing with her own dogs in obedience, tracking and sheep herding.

Canine Specialty Training (CST) was originally founded in 1989.

In 1993 Susan went to California for specialized instruction from The Assistant Dog Institute with Dr. Bergin; to learn to train service dogs for person with disabilities and shecontinues that passion today.  From 1997-2003 Susan served as the Director of the Department of Defences Service Dog Training Center for disabled soldiers, their exceptional family members and veterens.  She has trained all types of service dogs with the exception of guide dogs, as those dogs have numerous organizations that train them.  CST continues to train service dogs on a daily basis for mobility, hearing, allergen-Celiac, food, etc., medical alert- seizures, PTSD, Anxiety, Balance/Brace, and other 
disabilities for adults and children with specialized training needs.

Restructured on June 4, 2002, Canine Specialty Training, LLC formally started teaching and mentoring dog trainers in the community and nationwide to train dogs in advanced training methodologies in basic and advanced obedience, search and rescue, police working dogs, tactical manhunt, field trial retrievers, service dogs for disabled, explosive and drug search and other specialty training methods.

Susan Bass's vision is to use the extraordinary interactive gift of animals for the benefit of people in all walks of life.  

“We're a small and growing team. We look forward to meeting you and training a dog that will best fit your disability! So what are you waiting for, let's meet" 


Susan Bass, Owner of Canine Specialty Training, L.L.C.

Breanna Van Fleet

Breanna Van Fleet has a great love for animals especially dogs and grew up with her family raising and breeding Shelties. As a teenager she had the opportunity to volunteer to foster dogs for the Department of Defense AIMHI (Animals In the Military Helping Individuals) program. The program trained Service dogs for Veterans with disabilities. Breanna mentored with Susan Bass for 2 years until 9-11 happened and the program relocated. While in high school Breanna was employed at a veterinary clinic. Later, Breanna attended an EMT-Basic course then worked as a certified EMT while earning her paramedic certification. After several years in the emergency medical field, Breanna became too ill with seizures to continue. Breanna contacted Susan Bass with CST to apply for a seizure response service dog.  The process revived her dream of training dogs and she began being mentored by Susan bass in kennel management and dog training. During this time she moved into CST’s training house and assisted in training dogs. Breanna received her own service dog who saved her life several times by alert barking and activating a 911 button. Then something miraculous happened in her life after 16 years of suffering from debilitating migraines and dangerous seizures, God healed her completely and she has not had a seizure since that night in April of 2016. Absolutely thrilled with having her life back, she thanks and praises God fro his greatness in her life. This experience gave her an even stronger passion and desire to train Service dogs to help others with disabilities. She is now a graduate of CST’s DOIT (Dog Obedience Instructor Training) Course and specializes in teaching a working retrieve, training psychological support, hearing dogs, and balance brace Service dogs.