Category Archives: Rescue

Destin Gives Back: Dog-Harmony

By: Savannah Vasquez (Destin.com)
Nancy Bown said the mission of her non-profit, Dog-Harmony, is simple: Dog plus human equals family.

When she started the dog rescue, training and educational program five years ago, she said she never expected it to grow as quickly as it has. Now she said she has to limit the amount of rescue dogs they take in because of the extensive training and placement program that she implements.

“Last year we adopted 60 dogs,” she said. “We have a low intake compared to county dog shelters, but in five years we’ve only had two dogs come back. We have a very extensive training and background checking system, which makes sure they go to the right home.”

Bown is a certified dog trainer and runs a dog daycare – K 9-5 Doggie Daycare – during the day in Santa Rosa Beach, but said her true passion lies with Dog-Harmony.

“I was training dogs then people would pass away or have a dog that needed a home, so I started Dog-Harmony,” she said. “Then my accountant said, ’You need to start a 501 C-3. Now we are offering bite prevention classes free of charge in the schools, we have no-charge spay and neuter programs that run on scholarships and we had a new program called Trade it Out that encourages dog owners to trade their prong collars for more humane equipment free of charge.”

The educational aspect is really the focus of the non-profit, Bown explained. As a dog trainer, she said she wants to educate the community in order to prevent dogs from entering shelters in the first place.

“Really being a dog trainer and learning why dogs were ending up in shelters is what caused me to start Dog-Harmony,” she said. “The big factors are dogs biting children, or dogs not being spayed or neutered, or pet behavioral issues. My goal is to keep dogs from ending up in shelters to begin with.”

Currently Dog-Harmony is in the process of building a new facility in Freeport specifically designed for training and housing foster dogs as they await adoption. Bown said that the non-profit relies fully on community support and donations to keep it’s program running and there are several ways to give.

“We need money, so even a $5 donation really helps,” she said. “We also have the kiosk here at Grand Boulevard where we offer local art, dog toys, T-shirts and other unique items and 100 percent of the proceeds go to our programs.”

If adopting a dog is on your mind, Bown said there is one eager puppy waiting for a home; four-month-old Cooper.

“He is a border collie mix, he is very cute and very curious,” Bown said. “He knows how to walk on a leash, he knows ‘sit’ and he’s almost potty trained.”

As for volunteers, Bown said she welcomes all dog-lovers to apply.

“It’s all fun; everything we do is fun,” she said. “I don’t ever want Dog Harmony to be sad. When we receive a dog, that’s where their story begins. We don’t get caught up in whatever happened before.”

Published in the Northwest Florida Daily News

Breed Labels: When Guesses Turn Into Predictions

As we travel around the country, having conversations with shelters and rescues about the “pit bull” dogs in their care, we find that there are always a few big a-ha! moments that help people understand that all dogs are individuals just a bit better.

One of the more exciting moments typically happens during our Labels & Language presentation where we discuss the role of breed labeling in shelters and the assumptions we make about dogs based on those labels.

Read more here >>

We’re Having A Doggie!

The holidays are a popular time to bring a new dog into your home. They make a wonderful family addition and bring many years of love and fun. Adopting a dog is also a big decision and requires planning and research. Selecting a new pet can also be a very emotional event. Cute puppies with tails wagging and lots of cuddling are often all it takes to win the hearts of a family, but are only part of the criteria used to choose the right pet. We have some ideas on how to choose your match that will bring years of love and companionship to you, and a forever home to a furry friend in need of a loving family.

Whether one chooses a purebred or mix breed dog, pet adoption is available. Approximately 25 to 30 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred, and there are also shelters for specific breeds from which one can adopt. When selecting a dog it is important to understand the general characteristics of the breed. Is the dog very active or is it more of a lap dog? How large will the dog grow and how often will it require grooming? Are their common health traits of the breed that could require special treatment during its life? The answers to these questions will make one more aware of the care required and will help in the selection of a companion who is likely to be a part of a family for a decade or more.

Review your lifestyle to determine the amount of space available for the dog and the environment in which the dog will live. Space is more important to dogs with herding characteristics like Collies or Shetland Sheepdogs that like to run and bark and may nip at people to “gather” them. As a result, an apartment may not be the easiest environment in which to raise dogs with these traits. Older dogs have more mellow personalities and may be easier to introduce and play with children than young puppies.

It is hard to resist a puppy? The young canines are loving, playful and become “forever friends” to their owners. Puppies also offer an opportunity for children to learn responsibility by taking the dog on regular walks or grooming the pet on a regular basis. However, puppies require more time and attention to train and socialize the pet as it adjusts to a new home and family. Housetraining, puppy-proofing a house, and teaching the pet to obey are just some of the tasks of bringing a young dog in to the family. People with full daily schedules may consider adopting an older dog with arrangements for daycare that affords the dog time to walk or run and socialize

There are many other considerations to ponder when bringing a doggie into a family. Dog-Harmony’s “We’re Having a Doggie” program offers consultations on how to select the proper pet and will help find the best match for you. Adopting a dog through Dog-Harmony includes selection consultations, spay/neuter, vaccinations, obedience and crate training, bedding, harness, leash, and socialization for a nominal fee. To encourage a long-lasting relationship, Dog-Harmony will also provide follow-up consultations and training as needed. As you consider a gift for our family this holiday, think about adopting a pet. It will bring many years of happiness to your family and to a dog in search of a loving home.

For more information about adoption services, contact Dog-Harmony at hello@dog-harmony.org or 850-376-4190.

Just Adopt The Dog!

Fostering dogs is an integral part of animal rescue. Not only does it help the foster dog learn the proper skills and behavior to be successfully adopted, it also allows more dogs to be saved. The need for foster parents is apparent as it seems that any shelter or rescue can always accept more foster homes.

Unfortunately, in the animal rescue community, it seems common to encounter those (especially online) who make comments about fostering that can actually be very hurtful to those who choose to foster. Click here to read more on BarkPost.

We heart Pit Bulls… and you should too!

Thinking about adopting a pit bull? Congratulations! Pit bulls can make very sweet and loyal family dogs. Adopting a pit bull should be fun and joyful, so we’ve created a list of handy tips to help you make good choices.

Socialization is the key to a happy and confident dog. All puppies should be enrolled in a puppy class where part of the time is devoted to off-leash play with other dogs.

Pit bulls are enthusiastic learners. They enjoy trick training and many graduate at the head of their obedience classes. There are many pit bull rescue groups that can recommend training classes.

It’s play time! Pits are moderately active indoors and extremely active outdoors—be prepared to spend a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes twice a day engaged in aerobic-level activities with your dog.

You may experience breed discrimination.Legislation may prohibit you from living in certain communities, and homeowners insurance may be harder to find. Before you adopt, call your local city hall or animal shelter to find out about your local laws.

Do your research. Bringing home a pit bull may be tough because many people wrongly associate them as being aggressive. Be prepared with breed facts and history to let people know that it’s bad ownership—not bad dogs—that causes pit bulls to be aggressive.

Adoption is the best option. By rescuing a pit bull, you are saving a dog that needs a home and family. Adopting a pit from a shelter means that the dog will have had an initial health evaluation and should also have already been vaccinated and spayed or neutered for you. More and more shelters use a standardized evaluation to assess the behavior of their dogs. If the dog you’re interested in has been evaluated, ask to see the results so you can get a more complete picture of the dog’s typical reactions to things.

Consider adopting an older pit bull. With an adult dog, what you see is what you get. Their personality is already developed, and you’ll be able to spot the characteristics you’re looking for much more easily than with a puppy.

Set a good example for others. Become a proud parent—be sure to show your pit bull the love and care she deserves. And always let others know what great companions they make!

Adopting A Rescue Dog Is Awesome

You will save a life. 2.7 million dogs are euthanized in shelters each year.

Rescue dogs can make incredible transformations when they are adopted into loving homes.

Most rescue dogs are relinquished for reasons that have nothing to do with behavioral problems, and they are generally quite loving and gentle.

Choosing rescue dogs means that you won’t be supporting inhumane puppy mills.

When you adopt a rescue dog, you’ve got a best friend for life.

Are You Ready to Adopt?

When adopting, you are making a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his life—that could mean 10 to 15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for cats. As you go through lifestyle changes such as moves, the birth of children and new jobs, your animal will remain a permanent part of your life. If circumstances change, will you still be able to care for your pet?

  • Owning a dog or cat costs more than the initial adoption fee. Food, veterinary care, spaying or neutering and proper identification—that means a collar with tags and a more permanent form of ID such as microchipping—can add up.
  • Time is also a factor. Dogs benefit from several hours of exercise and companionship every day. Cats are healthiest and happiest indoors and love to be treated to energetic play sessions. If your work demands that you travel often, or if you’re out of the house most days and evenings, this may not be the right time to adopt.
  • It is important to consider whether your children, along with your resident pets, are able to accommodate the addition of a cat or dog to your household.

Why Support Dog-Harmony?

The reason we feel people should become involved with Dog-Harmony or to donate is we are the only proactive rescue using education as a tool to lessen Shelter population. Behavioral issues are the number one reason dogs are surrendered to a shelter. By having a certified trainer running the organization – we can be sure our dogs do not have any behavioral issues before they leave our care therefore reducing the risk of return. To this day we have had one return and it was due to a family situation not any fault of the dog.

Dog-Harmony is a necessary community organization to help lower the euthanasia rate. By providing education we hope to lessen the number of dogs surrendered to a shelter.

Our mission statement is to create lifelong adoptions by providing personalized and ongoing education support and training for people and dogs.

A smooth transition for your new furry friend.

Hold a family meeting to create rules about caring for the new family member.

  • Will he be allowed on the couch, the bed, and in all rooms of the house?
  • Where will he sleep and eat?
  • Who will walk him and clean up after him?
  • As a family, you must all be consistent with your decisions or you will confuse the dog, usually resulting in the dog making his own rules and causing unnecessary tension.

Have the necessary items your dog will need from the start: ID tags, a collar and a 6 foot leash, food and water bowls, food, dog toys, a crate and bedding, and basic grooming tools.

Bring your new dog home when you can be there for a few days (ideally) so you can supervise him as he learns your house rules.