Dedicated to the enhancement of animal assisted therapy.

Carmen Espinosa

Instructor, Evaluator


Carmen is an MSW candidate at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work concentrating in Mental Health. She is also a candidate in the Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate Program through the Institute for Human Animal Connection at DU. Her area of interest involves researching the human-animal bond, and how animals can help children and youth struggling with learning and social-emotional development. Carmen is currently working as a research assistant for the Institute for Human Animal Connection, primarily focusing on the Institute’s Green Chimneys documentation project, studying the efficacy of animal-assisted interventions with children with severe learning and behavioral problems. In her work with the Institute, she also participated in an ethics Think Tank surrounding the ethical implications of research for creating non-surgical contraceptive methods to be tested and used on feral cat and dog populations.


Carmen is currently a clinical social work intern for Animal Assisted Counseling of Colorado under the supervision of Carri King-Bussard. Carmen incorporates animals, nature, sound, movement, and meditation into her clinical practice.


Carmen has experience training miniature horses and dogs to become service animals, and has worked with therapy dogs, horses, donkeys, guinea pigs, and rats. Prior to moving to Denver, she worked as a consultant in the Greater Lansing area assessing potential service dogs for individuals with mental health disorders. Carmen has been interviewed on the Mid Michigan Pet Expert Talk Show multiple times to talk about her expertise in training service animals and the human-animal bond.


In her free time, Carmen enjoys hiking with her two dogs, Minerva and Cerberus; horseback riding; camping; traveling; aerial acrobatics; yoga; and dancing.


Carri King-Bussard, MA, LPC

Co-Founder, Instructor


Carri earned her Master’s degree in Counseling from Webster University in Albuquerque, NM in 1998. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Colorado, earning her undergraduate degree in Science from Saint Mary’s College in Winona, MN in 1991. She earned a Certificate in Animals and Human Health: Animal Assisted Therapy and Learning from Denver University’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) in 2007, and is an adjunct professor in GSSW's Animal-Assisted Social Work certificate.

In 2006, Carri was recognized by 9NEWS and the Denver Post for her work in establishing the B.A.R.K. Program, a collaborative program between the Denver Dumb Friends League and the Mental Health Center of Denver to enhance youth's coping skills, empathy, and understanding of the humane treatment of animals. She also has written articles on animal-assisted therapy for the Rocky Mountain Dog Magazine and the American Mental Health Counselors Association. In 2016, Carri was interviewed by the Associated Press for her work with small mammals in therapy, and was also interviewed by the Aurora Sentinel about her private counseling practice. 


She has almost 25 years of clinical experience working within the systems of child protection/welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and the public school system. In her work, she has utilized the strength of the human-animal bond while working with a variety of people in a variety of settings. She has extensive experience working in the community with high-risk youth and their families. Carri is trained and utilizes evidenced based practices to include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Trauma Focused CBT, Motivational Interviewing and principals of Multi-Systemic Therapy. Carri is also trained in the Anicare-child treatment model that addresses the assessment and treatment of animal abuse. She currently runs her own private practice, Animal Assisted Counseling of Colorado.


She is the proud mother to three canines (Hope, Ranger, and Noah), four guinea pigs (Loaf, Newton, Wiley, and "Little Dude" Seuss), and two rats (Justice and Freedom).





Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA
Co-Founder, Instructor

Pat Blocker, co-founder of Professional Therapy Dogs of Colorado and owner of Peaceful Paws Dog Training, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 18 years of experience. She has a passion for helping people with their dogs through education and positive reinforcement based training.

Pat was a full-time accredited trainer for 5 years before starting Peaceful Paws in 2005. Peaceful Paws offers in-home, private training concentrating on solving canine behavior issues. We also offer group classes for puppy, basic and advanced obedience. Peaceful Paws also specializes in behavior modification for aggressive and fearful dogs.

Pat became a Certified Professional Dog Trainer in 2003. She adheres to a code of ethics set forth by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers and upholds her education and knowledge of current training methods. She is a professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and an approved evaluator for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Program. She is also a contributing feature writer for Mile High Dog magazine and writes articles for community and business newsletters, and recently released her own book, Taking the Lead without Jerking the Leash: The Art of Mindful Dog Training.

Pat lives with her two canine behavior experts, Penny Lane and Jett.