Founder Amy Halm is a big-picture thinker who formerly worked as an executive-level spokesperson in the telecom, high tech and healthcare sectors. She has worked with public, private and nonprofit organizations.
So no one was more surprised than her when the simple act of adopting a retired police dog evolved into a successful business detecting narcotics in the private sector. Raised on a working dairy farm, Amy was quite accustomed to having animals as business partners, but drug detection dogs had not been in her career plan until meeting K-9 Dargo.
Co-founder Dargo passed on in 2016, but his successors, K-9 Lucy and K-9 Widow, are Amy's new work partners.
Amy’s experience in the healthcare industry, and especially her interest in mental health, steered her toward the growing field of addiction recovery, where Desert Drug Dog has been embraced as a key partner in supporting patients through the healing process.
Amy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Northern Illinois University, where she also studied psychology.
Dana has spent her entire career working with animals, in vastly different settings ranging from driving a stagecoach pulled by mules in the tourism industry to protecting life and property at a Level 1 trauma center as a K-9 Patrol Officer. Along the way she also worked as a veterinary technician, a professional dog (and people) trainer, and as a 911 Operator/Dispatcher for the Colorado State Patrol.
Through all of these jobs she honed the skills she uses now as a professional narcotics dog handler and Operations Manager at Desert Drug Dog. Her hospital background and positive attitude are highly valued at the treatment centers where patients are often struggling with the challenges of new recovery. Her trauma center and emergency dispatch experiences give her the sensitivity and empathy that are so key when working in the field of addiction.
Dana holds a certificate in graphic arts from a local college and as such she is our go-to person for the design of our marketing materials. In her spare time, Dana is the Supreme Aunt of Choice with her four young nieces and nephews and loves spending time with her family.
Jessica Frend-Meyers is an accomplished handler and the owner of K-9 Gracie. Since joining Desert Drug Dog, Jessica has helped us make operational improvements as well as expanding our ability to service more clients. Jessica’s unique background includes Masters’ level studies in Law, Political Science and Justice, as well as many years working in her family’s pharmacy. What could be a better background for a drug detection handler! Jessica is also an accomplished equestrian and is trainer and owner at JFM Show Jumping in Scottsdale, Arizona. Jessica and K-9 Gracie are welcomed at their regular clients as family – this is the trust we strive to build and we are grateful to have this team working at Desert Drug Dog!
Robert Chisholm is a firefighter who was looking for a challenging side gig when he became involved with our training company. Eventually his interest in our detection work turned into training with us, and now Robert and his 2 labrador retrievers are vital members of our company. Affectionately known as Team Floppy Ears for working the only "non-pointy-eared" dogs, Robert, K-9 Herald and K-9 Riggs are performing multiple searches each week.
George Daniolos is owner and director of training at K-9 Defense, LLC. He is the Lead Trainer on contract for the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit, helping them develop a science-based training program for their patrol and detection dogs. He is also Master Trainer at BNSF Railways Police Department K-9 Unit and at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital. George has titled, trained, raised and developed champion dogs for personal protection, law enforcement, private security and the military.
With this background, it is a privilege to have George on the team at Desert Drug Dog, as our dogs receive the same high caliber training as the best police dogs. George’s practice of consistently using rewards-based training is evident in the way our dogs work—they are effective, happy and confident in the search, and social with people.
George holds a Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree from Northern Arizona University and is a much sought-after instructor and speaker by law enforcement, military and civilian organizations. His articles appear frequently in Police K-9 Magazine and K-9 Cop Magazine.
Everyone needs advice, and Jeffrey J. Ellish has guided us financially since before the business even started. His insight, strategic thinking and blunt honesty have greatly contributed to our success. Jeffrey has more certifications, awards, and honors than we have room for here, but suffice it to say he is one of the most brilliant and trustworthy people you will ever meet in the financial world. His company, Ellish Wealth Management, is affiliated with the well known Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
Although he's long gone, K-9 Dargo was the co-founder of Desert Drug Dog and the reason for its inception. He is still famous among our long term clients, and during his career was featured on numerous newscasts, including the national show Fox & Friends. Dargo was certified as a therapy dog as well as a drug dog, and spent many hours in patient rooms comforting both patients and families in very stressful times.