Graduating ’Canine devoted to serving to cats


Valerie Guzman graduated in Could with a grasp’s diploma in Utilized Habits Analytics. (Pictures by Cary Edmondson)

A few of Valerie Guzman’s earliest childhood recollections embody taking in stray cats together with her household of their Santa Maria residence.

“We might soak up the cats that nobody wished – some have been pregnant, had well being issues or have been infested with fleas,” Guzman stated. “We might nurse them again to well being and discover them a house.” 

Guzman earned bachelor’s levels from Lengthy Seashore State College with a double main in baby growth and household schooling in 2016. However after 4 years of working with kids with behavioral issues, she was drawn to use what she had discovered about behaviors to  serving to “unadoptable” cats. 

Regardless of strain from her dad and mom to calm down and have a household, Guzman stated she determined to comply with her desires and pursue a grasp’s diploma in Utilized Habits Evaluation at Fresno State. This system emphasizes habits analytic purposes with usually creating and developmentally disabled kids and adults. Nonetheless, Guzman’s analysis attracts a parallel to her work with animal habits.

“We give attention to habits, and behaviors are all over the place, together with animals” Guzman stated. “Inside my thesis, I’m presenting that assessments that we use with people can be profitable with animals since it’s not depending on the inhabitants, however the habits.”

Guzman will rejoice incomes her grasp’s diploma at Fresno State’s School of Science and Arithmetic graduation ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday, Could 20, on the Save Mart Middle.

“On one hand my dad and mom didn’t perceive why I wished to return to highschool after receiving my bachelor’s diploma. Alternatively, I do know that furthering my schooling would change my life trajectory,” Guzman stated. 

Guzman was thrilled when she was accepted into the grasp’s program, and jumped at the chance to analysis animal habits alongside Dr. Steven Payne within the Psychology Division. Payne helped set up a partnership with Valley Animal Middle, a shelter that helps hundreds of cats and canines discover loving properties every year.

“Since we began our partnership eight years in the past, my lab has been centered on rising the welfare of shelter animals,” Payne stated. “Valerie matches in properly with our lab’s mission, and her analysis is on the leading edge of the animal shelter literature.” 

Guzman researched trial-based purposeful evaluation instruments to find the motivations behind “unadoptable” cats’ behaviors. In her analysis, she labored with three cats that had displayed aggressive behaviors: 11-year-old Friday, 6-year-old Sonny and 2-year-old Princess Rosalinda.

“Everybody has heard of a canine coach however has by no means heard of a cat coach,” Guzman stated. “The important thing to profitable coaching is to work out what triggers the repeated habits and what the cat will get from displaying that exact habits so you possibly can change the circumstances.”

Graduate Valerie Guzman researched animal behaviors with Dr. Steven Payne as part of a partnership with Valley Animal Center.

Graduate Valerie Guzman researches animal behaviors with Dr. Steven Payne (pictured above) as a part of a partnership with Valley Animal Middle. (Pictures by Cary Edmondson)

All three of the cats within the research confirmed vital enchancment of their aggressive habits. The behavioral strategies utilized by Payne and Guzman shall be relayed to workers in hopes of serving to extra cats get the chance to be adopted. 

“Our long-lasting partnership with Valley Animal Middle has led to improbable outcomes for the animals, for Fresno State college students and for analysis in the sphere of Utilized Habits Evaluation,” Payne stated. “We hope to proceed serving to animals within the Central Valley far into the long run.” 

Guzman explains there’s a stigma that cats can’t be skilled. “I don’t need my analysis to finish right here – I need to show others about these strategies.”

Guzman’s final purpose is to start out a non-profit to coach workers on efficient behavioral strategies. “I need to present each cat a likelihood at adoption.”


Celebrating the Class of 2022
In the approaching days, will spotlight tales of inspiring college students who shall be graduating this spring. Graduation ceremonies for the College’s eight faculties and colleges together with a number of affinity celebrations will happen Could 20 and 21. Go to for extra particulars.