Susan A. Brown, DVM

I have been interested in the behavior and care of all species of animals since my childhood growing up in Indiana.  Besides the many pets that came through our home, I observed and interacted with a wide variety of animals that were found in the woods and fields around my paternal grandparent's home and on my maternal grandparent's farm.  From 1972 to 19761 I attended the Purdue University School of Veteterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Indiana.

I worked at two different small animal clinics and the St. Louis Humane Society until 1980 when I purchased Argonne Animal Hospital in Lemont, IL with Djordje Gvojic, DVM, and started seeing strictly exotic animal patients.  In 1985 I founded the Midwest Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital in Westchester, IL (the first all-exotic animal veterinary clinic in the U.S.) with Richard Nye, DVM and practiced there until its sale in 2004.  From 1985 to 2005 I lectured and conducted hands-on labs for veterinarians on the husbandry and medical care of exotic mammals both nationally and internationally.  I published articles in both lay and professional journals and co-authored three books on small mammal care  as well as  several chapters in veterinary texts.

During my many years of veterinary work, I observed that the majority of diseases seen in our patients of any species were the direct result of poor husbandry and nutrition.  Part of that poor husbandry included sterile environments devoid of enrichment, inappropriate handling and a lack of understanding of the normal behavioral needs of a particular species.   In addition, for veterinarians practicing exotic animal medicine there was a lack of information on how to handle patients in the least stressful means possible and how to recognize signs of pain or illness in their early stages.

Midwest Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital provided services for a variety of rescues including those for birds, rabbits and ferrets and reptiles.  I noted that the most common reason that almost any species of animal is given up to a rescue is because the caregiver can't live with what they feel is an inappropriate behavior exhibited by that animal.   Caregivers of animals that exhibit inappropriate behavior often think there is nothing to be done to modify the behavior or improve the relationship so they are left with the options of euthanasia or relinquishment to a rescue.  It seemed to me there had to be a better way of dealing with these behavioral problems then those two drastic options, which only lead to a lot of unhappy animals and people.

After the sale of the practice in 2004, I spent a great deal of time thinking about how I could best serve the people and the animals with which they live to provide ways of improving the circumstances both mentally and physically of both.  I was privileged to hear a lecture by Susan Friedman, PhD in 2008 at a conference for the Association of Avian Veterinarians on the science of behavior and how the principals of this science can be used to modify behavior humanely and effectively.  It became immediately obvious to me that if people could have an understanding of the principals of learning, which apply to all species, then they could apply these principals in their own homes to not only modify behaviors that are problematic, but to teach new behaviors that are enriching both physically and mentally to both humans and animals alike.

From this point on, I worked to gain the expertise and training necessary to pass on this information to caregivers of animals. 

Educational and training experience:

  • Graduated from the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1976 and practice exclusively exotic animal medicine from 1980 to the present.
  • From 2005 to present I have been a member of the Fox Valley Therapy Dog Club having trained and certified four of my dogs for therapy dog work.  I have been secretary, vice president, practice coordinator and am currently an evaluator for testing dogs for registration.
  • Completed the course for professionals on the science of behavior and applied behavior analysis: Living and Learning with Animals  taught by Susan Friedman, PhD; completed in 2008 and repeated in 2013
  • Completed Barbara Heidenreich's mini course on Parrot Learning in 2008
  • Completed both beginning and advanced training for alpacas and llamas at Camelidynamics with Marty McGee Bennett in 2008
  • Completed both the basic and advanced training courses at Natural Encounters in Winter Haven, Florida - a training facility for birds and mammals in Winter Haven, Florida (2009, 2010); The programs combined extensive training time with a variety of species of birds as well as a scientific program
  • I am a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPACTP). I graduated in November of 2010 from this intensive 6 month course covering art and science of positive reinforcement training with an emphasis on marker-based (clicker) training
  • Consultant for the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, Illinois for training and behavior modification of various species of animals at their facility.
  • Completed Level One training for TagTeach (people training people) in Chicago in 2011
  • Completed the one week course Professional Seminars for Zoological Trainers taught by Ken Ramirez at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium 2012
  • Received the Diploma of Animal Behavior Science and Technology from the Companion Animal Sciences Institute - June of 2013

In addition, I have personally trained a wide range of species of animals including; dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, ferrets, pigs, alpacas, llamas, parrots, rats, doves and tortoises.

I believe that when people understand the principals of learning and how to observe and analyze behavior, they will have the tools to make significant behavior modifications in both themselves and their animals leading to an enriched life for both parties. Giving animals the power to make choices in their daily lives and setting up their environment so they can successfully choose appropriate behaviors, will enrich their lives, reduce disease, and eliminate the need to relinquish or euthanize them due to behavioral problems.

Member of the following organizations:

A.V.M.A. (American Veterinary Medical Association)
A.E.M.V. (Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians)
A.A.S.R.P. (American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners)
A.V.S.A.B. (American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior)
I.A.A.B.C (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants)
I.A.A.T.E. (International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators)
A.B.M.A. (Animal Behavior Management Alliance)