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