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 Meet the Instructors

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Kelly Thyssen

Kelly founded Humane Educators of Texas in 2014 and now co-owns the company with Tabitha. Kelly is also the cofounder of Humane H.E.L.P., a nonprofit organization for peer support and mental health resources for Animal Welfare Professionals.


She is a trained Peer through the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF).

Kelly has experience in giving lectures for multiple organizations including Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Zoonosis program, Williamson County Probation Office, the Georgetown Police Department, National Animal Care and Control Association (NACA), Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Texas Animal Control Association (TACA), Southeastern Animal Control Association, Animal Control Association of New Hampshire, Texas Unites for Animals, Texas Environmental Health Association (TEHA) and the Intertel Region VIII Southwest Conference. 


Kelly has worked as an Animal Control Officer for multiple Central Texas agencies, Veterinary Technician for a small animal hospital, Kennel Manager for a large no-kill animal shelter, and as a Public Health and Prevention Specialist for Texas Department of State Health Services Zoonosis Program.
She is a former member of Pflugerville Police Association and Georgetown Police Association, Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), and Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), and Pflugerville Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).  She is a current member of NACA, TACA, and an active board member for TACA. 

Currently Kelly lives in Round Rock, TX with her husband (a local police officer), daughter and several pets.   


Tabitha Blewett

Tabitha Blewett has over 20 years of experience in the field of animal care and animal services.  While residing in California she worked as the education director for a non-profit wildlife rescue organization with special focus on large cats. She also worked for private animal boarding and training facilities in the San Diego area, as well as for the North County Humane Society.


After relocating to Texas, she worked for the Williamson County Humane Society as the kennel manager, and also served as a member of the advisory board for the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter.

In September 2018, she retired from the Williamson County Sheriff's Office after 10 years of service. She was the Local Rabies Control Authority for Williamson County as well as the Animal Control Field Supervisor for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, where she oversaw a team of five Animal Control Officers.


During her time at the Sheriff's Office, she excelled in promoting educational outreach for the community, including giving frequent public education presentations for children. She developed the fractious animal training program for employees of the Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department, as well as educational seminars on urban wildlife which she has presented at various events around Williamson County.

In addition to full time training at the academy and around the state, Tabitha is a frequent speaker at conferences for both State and National organizations. She has presented at: HSUS Animal Care Expo, National Animal Care & Control Association Conference, Texas Animal Control Association Conference, Texas Unites for Animals Conference, Southeastern Animal Control Conference, New England Animal Control Academy Conference, & Texas Department of State Health Services, Zoonosis Control Division Continuing Education Seminars and Basic ACO Training.


Tabitha holds trainings & certifications in Basic, Advanced ACO, & Administrative ACO, Collapsible Baton, OC Spray, X26 Taser, Rifle Qualification, Zoonotic Diseases, Verbal Judo, Herpetology Handling, Blood Sports Investigations, TLAER Awareness Level, Officer Safety & Survival, Compassion Fatigue, Pet First Aid & CPR, Animal Services Disaster Response, and Rabies Investigations.


Tabitha is also Nationally Certified as an Animal Cruelty Investigator (Code 3 Associates & Colorado State University), Internationally Certified as a Rabies Educator (Global Alliance for Rabies Control), ICISF Certified Peer, a TCOLE SME on Rabies & Dangerous Dog Investigations, and a RACE approved Instructor (AAVSB).

 Specialty Instructors


Shyah Johnson

Shyah Johnson has been in the animal welfare field since 2016 and currently is a Senior Animal Health Tech at a local regional shelter. She joined our team of instructors in 2023 and teaches all 3 levels of Basic Kennel Technician. She has experience working in both non-profit and municipal animal shelters as well as retail pet boarding facilities. 

Shyah has a great love for all animals, but especially reptiles and dogs. She excels in the handling and rehabilitating of dogs who are fearful and unsafe to rehome without intervention. She lives in Taylor with her 6 snakes and 5 dogs and dreams of one day owning an alligator! 

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Cathy Bustos

Cathy joined our team in 2019 to spear head our mental health classes. Since then she has become a Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate in Texas and is on the board of Humane H.E.L.P.  She is a graduate of American Military University with a bachelor's degree in psychology along with a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, with a specialty in trauma and crisis from Walden University. Currently, she is providing counseling services for veterans and first responders at Angels On The Horizon Therapeutic Center in Copperas Cove, Texas.
Cathy served for 25 years as a Texas police officer with the cities of Copperas Cove and Cedar Park. She is a graduate of The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute Leadership Command College at Sam Houston State University. She retired at the rank of Lieutenant in 2019.
Cathy is an International Critical Incident Stress Foundation approved instructor and certified Group Crisis and Assisting Individuals in Crisis Instructor. She's also a certified trainer on the topic of Law Enforcement Suicide. She's a member of the instructor cadre with Warrior’s Rest Foundation.
Every year, Cathy returns as support services for National Police Week in Washington DC. She also travels the nation as support services for the Concerns of Police Survivors Traumas of Law Enforcement Trainings. She provides Wellness Services for Survivors of Blue Suicide and for the Texas Fraternal Order of Police.
She can be reached by emails: or
Her website:

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Jared Thyssen

Jared Thyssen joined our team in 2018 and teaches our Crime Scene and Leadership courses. He is certified as a Master Peace Officer by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.  Jared graduated Summa Cum Laude from the St. Edward’s University’s Honors Program in 2007 with a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice.  During this time Jared worked as a civilian employee for the University’s Police Department.  Jared graduated from the Capital Area Council of Government’s Basic Peace Officer Academy in 2007 and was the Salutatorian and “Top Gun” of Class 46.


Jared began his career in September of 2007 and has served in many different roles.  Jared has worked in the Patrol Division where he served as a Field Training Officer tasked with training new officers.  Jared eventually promoted to Corporal and later moved into the Criminal Investigations Division where he served as a Detective.  During this time Jared took part in multiple types of investigations ranging from death investigations, sexual crimes, child abuse, property crimes, animal cruelty and crimes against persons to include assaults and robberies.  Jared was eventually promoted to Sergeant and returned to the Patrol Division where he supervised a daytime Patrol shift.  He is currently a Commander over CID, Professional Standards, Community Services, and  Communications. Jared has been tasked with investigating and documenting a wide variety of crime scenes during his career and has received extensive training in forensic photography. 


Jared also serves as an Instructor certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.  In this role Jared has taught a wide array of courses to include Patrol Officer Safety, Crowd Management, Taser, Oleoresin Capsicum (Pepper) Spray, Legislative Updates, Missing and Exploited Children, Human Trafficking as well as Arrest, Search and Seizure.


Lana Toporek

Lana Toporek joined our team in 2019 as the Officer Safety  & Bite Stick instructor. She has been a Texas Peace Officer for over 15 years. She is currently a Sergeant in Central Texas and has served as a field training officer, a defensive tactics instructor, and member of a dynamic entry team during her career. She also has over 30 years of martial arts experience, and currently trains under head coach Robby Rabadi and Rabadi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai.

Lana holds certifications in: Master Peace Officer, TCOLE Basic Instructor License, Certified Gracie Survival Tactics Instructor (Level 1), Certified Defensive Tactics Instructor (Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy).

Additional achievements include: Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Advanced Muay Thai practitioner, 5th Degree black belt in Kajuunkenbo, Black sash in Hung-Gar Kung Fu, Former NASM certified personal trainer, several time gold and silver medal winner at the Texas Police Games, gold medal winner IBBJF (Blue belt women's division), several time gold and silver medal winner at NAGA.


Donovan Harris

Donovan Harris joined our team in 2024 and teaches our Animal Cruelty Investigations course. He has over 16 years of experience in the Animal Control Field. In June of 2008, Donovan was appointed as the Animal Control Officer for a small city in northwest Oklahoma. In 2015, Donovan and his family relocated to Texas, where he accepted a position as a senior officer for Houston’s Animal Control Division. Since then, Donovan has worked with several different cities within Texas, building relationships and working towards a better future for Animal Control. 


Donovan Harris has a passion for knowledge in the field of animal law and welfare. He has completed a multitude of courses and certifications including Basic ACO, Advanced ACO, and Administrative ACO certifications. National Animal Cruelty Investigation Level 1 & 2 through the University of Missouri Institute. Zoonotic Diseases, Rabies Investigation, Tactical Animal Handling, Euthanasia technician and LRCA certification, as well as several other certification programs within the animal control field. 


Donovan is currently the Supervisor and Local Rabies Control Authority for Rosenberg Animal Control in Texas, and is working towards becoming a certified TCOLE instructor for Animal Cruelty.

Proud Members Of:

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