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Dr. John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB

I am the founder of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants and the proud co-author and editor of Decoding Your Dog.


Dr. Ciribassi was born and grew up in Jersey City, NJ, attended Southern Illinois University and graduated with a BS in Biology from the University of Illinois. He graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 1984. After graduation he practiced dairy medicine in Pennsylvania along with his wife, Elise, also a veterinarian. In 1988 Dr. Ciribassi returned to Illinois with Elise and they opened the Gary at North Veterinary Center, a companion animal practice in Carol Stream (a western suburb of Chicago). In 1998, he began the process of board certification with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. Soon after he began the Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants, a animal behavior specialty practice. In 2002 Dr. Ciribassi, along with Elise and another veterinary classmate (Dr. Marty Johnson), purchased the Carol Stream Animal Hospital merging with the Gary at North Veterinary Center. In October of 2006, Dr. Ciribassi passed his boards to become a board certified veterinary behaviorist. He has served as President of the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association as well as President of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). He lives in Carol Stream with Elise and his daughters Danielle and Rebekah.

Learn more about Dr. Cirbassi's book Decoding Your Dog

Dr. Fiia Jokela, DVM, DABVP (canine/feline)

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It was with great pride that I joined Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants last year as a Resident of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists.

Dr. Jokela is a 1990 graduate of Purdue University, School of Veterinary Medicine.  In 1998 she achieved board certification in Canine and Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP).  

Dr. Jokela has practiced in a variety of clinical settings in the Chicago and northwest Indiana areas, including general, feline only, and emergency practice. In 2001 she opened Deer Run Animal Hospital in Schererville, IN, and developed it into a behavior centered general practice. 

In 2016, Dr. Jokela sold Deer Run Animal Hospital to enable her to follow her passion of practicing veterinary behavior medicine full time. She was accepted into a private practice residency program with the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB). She is currently under the residency mentorship of Dr. Ciribassi, and in July of 2017, he invited her to join Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants.

Dr. Jokela has a special interest in shelter behavior, and her shelter work focuses on improving the adoptability, and success, of shelter and rescue pets.  She is honored to be the Veterinary Behavior Consultant for the A Sound Beginning Program.  This unique program works with many shelters and rescues to provide education and training to shelter staff, volunteers, fosters, and newly adopting families to prevent, as well as manage, common behavior problems. 

Dr. Jokela has three pets. Her first is handsome Boxer mix, Bentley, who fought his way to survival on the urban streets before finding Dr. Jokela. Her second is Arandano, a graceful Galgo (Spanish Greyhound), rescued from the tragic and tortured life of this magnificent breed in Spain.  She also has a very debonair cat named Teppo, who was born of a feral mom in Dr. Jokela’s neighborhood.  

When Dr. Jokela is not working, she visits the beautiful Northwoods of Northern Minnesota where her grandparents settled after immigrating to America from Finland in the early 1900s.  She enjoys spending time at her family's rustic cabin on an island near Ely, Minnesota, which is located on the edge of the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Patricia Rattray

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I have been a trainer and administrator for Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants since its inception.

Patricia Rattray is a native of eastern Ohio but has lived in Illinois for most of her life. Previously involved in Human Relations, she took an interest in training when she got her first dog and was disenchanted with the number of aversive trainers in the Chicago area.

Pat became associated with Narnia Pet Behavior and Training in Naperville where she learned more positive reward based techniques. She then took the DOGS course at Purdue University with Dr. Andrew Luescher (a board certified veterinary behaviorist) where she learned the principles of behavior modification. She began working for the Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants in 2002.

Pat's duties with CVBC include initial telephone conversations with pet owners,scheduling appointments, managing the various forms which need to be completed before the appointment, and handling behavior modification training with the owners and their pets.

She is also involved in a Boxer Rescue Group called Bailed Out Boxers and A Sound Beginning Program.

Liz Geisen KPA-CTP

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For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with dogs and animal behavior.

It wasn't until I volunteered and later worked for a humane society that I realized that I had a passion for a career in animal care and welfare. Beginning as certified veterinary assistant in 2007, I now work as a veterinary behavior technician. I also attend classes at Purdue University for my RVT, with the goal of becoming a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Behavior.  I am also a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, and have completed their Puppy Start Right and Shelter Enrichment courses.

My passion continues to grow as I take courses and build my knowledge base. I have completed Dr. Sophia Yin’s Low Stress Handling Course, as well as becoming a Fear Free Certified Professional and actively practice those techniques to make pets’ veterinary care experience as stress free as possible. In addition, I enjoy helping the community learn about canine communication and safe interactions between children and pets as a Doggone Safe “Be A Tree” presenter and a Family Paws Parent Educator.

I love working with puppies, as who could resist their cute faces, but it is the dogs that have been abandoned and discarded that I feel the deepest calling to help. Working with shelter and rescue dogs, who often have some baggage behind them, are my favorite students. They have had their world shattered for one reason or another, and yet they still are hanging on to that hope that one day someone will come and love them like they were meant to be loved. When I can help build that bond of trust again, it is an amazing feeling!


Maggie Fahner, M.S.

My entire career has focused on animal care and teaching people how to coexist with animals responsibly.

I received my undergraduate’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment in 1995, majoring in Ecology and Animal Behavior. While studying for graduate school, I worked part-time as Veterinary Technician at an emergency animal clinic, plus I volunteered and started my thesis research on dolphin echolocation at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I received my Master’s Degree in Biology from Western Illinois University in 1998, and in that same year, I was hired as a marine mammal trainer at Shedd Aquarium while completing my thesis work. I spent ten years training a diverse group of animals including whales, dolphins, otters, seals, sea lions, penguins, primates and birds of prey. For an additional three years, I was the manager of the Animal Programs Collection at Shedd. I was responsible for the husbandry, training and interpretative programming of a large collection of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.

Besides exotic animals, I have been training dogs and their people for the past 12 years. Prior to moving out to the Western Suburbs five years ago, I taught a variety of positive reinforcement classes at Unleashed in Evanston. Since then, I have been busy with private in-home training and teaching classes for The Puppy Professor, a team specializing in puppy socialization and adolescent behavior.  For the last three years, I have also been a lead instructor for A Sound Beginning program.  A Sound Beginning classes and lectures are specially designed to help dogs and their people reduce the stress associated with the transition from shelter/rescue/foster into new homes, improving success rates.

At home, I train a rescued Australian Shepherd, a “foster failure” tabby cat, three human animals under the age of twelve, and a husband.