Sheri Soltes founded and has run a successful business for 30 years, which included 23 years of legislative experience. Prior to that she was a civil trial attorney for 8 years and a Briefing Attorney for the First Court of Appeals, Harris County, Texas.
Sheri founded Service Dogs, Inc. in 1988. It is a nonprofit that trains service dogs to assist people living with deafness or mobility related disabilities free of charge. All of the dogs come from animal shelters and rescue groups. (See www.servicedogs.org)
Sheri earned a B.A. with high honors in 1981 from the University of Texas Plan II Honors program. She earned a J.D. with honors in 1984 from the University of Texas School of Law.
Sheri moved back to Austin from Houston where she’d been practicing law in 1993. She has lived in the same house in District 47 for 24 years.
Inclusiveness, integrity, intelligence, fearlessness and perseverance.
Through Sheri’s leadership, Service Dogs, Inc. partners with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in conducting PAWS, the nation’s first and only juvenile prison service dog training program. PAWS teaches youth empathy, responsibility and vocational skill.
Sheri also has been instrumental in placing courthouse dogs with Victims Assistance departments of the Montgomery County District Attorneys’ offices. These dogs comfort children when they are interviewed about abuse and even accompany them to court when they testify. Sheri will be speaking about the courthouse dogs program to the Texas District and County Attorneys Association conference in September 2017.
Sheri has mentored assistance dog programs around the world, including in Australia, Japan, Spain and Chile. She has been a featured speaker at many conferences and institutions in the United States, Spain and Chile.
Her articles on the legal rights of Assistance Dog users have been published by Assistance Dogs International, the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners and Leader Dogs for the Blind.
Sheri helped draft the 1995 and proposed 2017 revisions for Texas' Assistance Dog access statute. She is currently working on a mobile website with a geolocator that will tell both assistance dog users and the business community the relevant service dog access laws, protocols if there is an issue, what may be asked of the person with the dog and that includes a reporting function to compile data. It will have both a U.S. and international scope.
Sheri's other accomplishments include: