How a simple day on a loading dock motivated Pepe to begin a movement in helping save dogs lives
It all started in 1994 when I was a canine handler for Gainesville Police Department. I chose to volunteer for a presentation at the local animal shelter. It was a brief demonstration about police dogs and what they do as well as their importance in the community in order to gather support. I arrived early to the shelter and drove around back to the area where the demonstration was to be held. As I drove passed a loading dock I could not believe my eyes, it was the sight of sadness, over forty dogs that had been euthanized. The sight of that many dead dogs just troubled me and still does to this day, everything from a large great Pyrenees to the smallest of terriers all lying lifeless. I was overwhelmed by the fact that so many dogs’ lives were taken. After the presentation was over I asked some of the staff about what I had witnessed. I don’t think even today I would have been prepared for the response I received. A gentleman told me that this was a more common occurrence then most would think, even as frequent as two times per week. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that many dogs were euthanized at one location. I began to ask myself “how many in the entire US” just thinking about it made my stomach churn. Even though I had worked many years with homicide detectives and SWAT units I was traumatized by this scene. I began to research the cause of this and I soon found out that the number one killer of dogs under the age of one year old in the US is behavioral issues. “How could this be” I thought, that means dogs that misbehave such as digging out of the yard, barking, jumping or being destructive in the house would not be given a chance to change but be euthanized! “Why isn’t someone doing something about this” I thought to myself.
That in essence is what sparked and motivated me to begin J&K Canine Academy. When I got my police dog he was labeled uncontrollably dominant and aggressive and he would have been euthanized. I took him and turned him from extremely aggressive to (by the end of his career) the “poster child” for the police department doing public demonstrations, attending “meals on wheels” for the elderly and going to schools dressed as Santa Claus. I thought if I could do that with him, I could impact the community by dedicating myself to work with dogs labeled problematic or have behavioral issues. I have always said, “If I can make people feel 10% of the bond and relationship I had with “Ross” my police dog, I would have accomplished something positive in life”. That has been the focus of my motivation. I ultimately strive to make people not only understand why their dog is misbehaving but how to understand where their relationship is lacking and give them the guidance to improve it.