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Fusion Animal Behavior, LLC official logo

Promoting physical and emotional health and welfare for pets and their caregivers to strengthen and protect the human-animal bond.

Hi, I'm Alyssa.

Alyssa Cary, LVT at Clarendon Animal Care in Arlington, VA. Owner and applied animal behaviorist at Fusion Animal Behavior.

I am a licensed veterinary technician with over 10 years of experience in the field and am currently finishing a master’s degree concentrated in Applied Animal Behavior and Welfare. My experience working as a black bear technician as an undergraduate sparked my interest in pursuing a career in medicine, and my role as team leader on those research projects helped me realize my passion for mentorship and education.

Since hearing Dr. Marty Becker speak about Fear Free prior to its official release, I have been actively and enthusiastically contributing to Fear Free’s mission to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified’” on the smaller scale by showing my coworkers the many benefits of Fear Free. My goal is to work to improve pets' lives by helping to educate and coach the people who care for them to prioritize both physical and emotional health.

My Philosophy

Behavior is typically associated with the brain, but behavior is influenced by a fusion of several factors: Environment, genetics, maternal care, learning history, physical health, sense of safety and security, and the human-animal bond, to name just a few. We can't tease apart the brain from the rest of the body or choose any one element to treat when addressing behavior concerns. The best outcomes arise from a treatment plan that is as simple as possible, multimodal, evidence-based, data-driven, and administered using a team approach.

SIMPLE & MULTIMODAL
TEAM APPROACH
EVIDENCE-BASED
DATA-DRIVEN

Animal behavior is not always as complex as we think it should be, and our approach to evaluating and treating patients shouldn't be, either. The more complex and time-intensive an approach, the less likely it is to be adopted -- that's why I believe finding simple solutions is key to effecting behavior change, whether working with a pet parent/guardian or a team of professionals.

A multimodal approach is important to ensure we're addressing as many contributing factors as possible. I place emphasis on ruling out medical causes for behavior changes, management of the environment and incorporating training/behavior modification. This is where the significance of the team approach is apparent, and building the right team is key.

 

In a world where anyone can label themself an animal behaviorist, dog trainer, behavior specialist, etc. without repercussion, it can be incredibly difficult to find trustworthy professionals who use science and data to guide their practice. Even worse, the amount of misinformation available (especially through social media) is staggering and continues to grow.

 

We still have a lot to learn, but we know a lot about animal behavior, cognition, and learning theory, and the science is clear. My approach to addressing behavior concerns and educating fellow veterinary and pet care professionals is evidence-based, data-driven, and designed with empathy and understanding. I am constantly learning from my colleagues and the research being done in the fields of veterinary behavior, applied animal behavior, animal welfare, and the like. I use this information to guide my approach.

 

Similarly, data collection and evaluation during the treatment of patients and coaching and mentoring of teams allows me to clearly see where we might need to alter our plan in order to reach our goals. Progress is not linear, but by tracking trends, we can move the needle in the direction we desire.

Meet My Team

Pixie, tortoiseshell or tortie cat, Fusion Animal Behavior mascot

Pixie

Birthday: 5/3/12

Behavior Problem: Aggression toward the vacuum

Pixie climbed into our hearts and our home in late 2012 after presenting to the hospital where I worked for a routine spay. She was a rescue and she needed a home so I took her in. Mak and Chloe welcomed her within just a few days, and she’s been causing problems and making us laugh with her antics ever since. Pixie has never met a stranger she didn’t like and is constantly curious about the outdoors.

Mak, mutt or mixed breed dog, Fusion Animal Behavior mascot

Mak

Approximate Birthday: 11/3/09

Behavior Problem: Noise phobia

Mak joined the family in spring 2010 when he was just a little puppy who’d been found on the side of the road. Like Chloe, he’s been by my side for quite a lot. Mak was my running buddy for many years until his body couldn’t handle it anymore. He has also helped with socialization of puppies and kittens and traveled to an elementary school for career day. These days he spends most of his time snoozing, enjoying short sniff walks, and eating various treats and snacks from different enrichment tools.

Chloe, calico cat, Fusion Animal Behavior mascot

Chloe

In Loving Memory
2008-2023

A calico with all the attitude but enough snuggly sweetness to balance it out, Chloe was my first pet as an adult. She was a rescue from Radford, VA and she was my companion through many major milestones and long days and nights of studying. She loved catching bugs, laying in the sun, grooming herself and Mak, playing, sleeping on me, scaring my husband, and eating.

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