story by Greg Alexander | photos by Dog Harmony
A truly different breed of rescue, Dog-Harmony Inc., is fulfilling a niche in the area of dog rescue. The nonprofit was founded by professional dog trainer, Nancy Bown, CPDT-KA. The name Dog Harmony fits beautifully because Nancy and her team strive to create an ideal and harmonious relationship between canines and humans that would help alleviate causes of the homelessness problems to begin with. Dog Harmony does not just train the dogs, they “train” the public and the pet parents, as well.
Dog Harmony focuses on education and takes in fewer rescues. Nancy, being a trainer, had a specific goal in mind when she started the rescue. She stated, “Sometimes being in rescue, it’s easy to slip into focusing on the sad dog stories, but we try to prevent those sad stories in the first place. Through our programs—humane education, low-cost spay/neuter, microchipping clinics and even the few adoptions we facilitate—we work to keep dogs out of the shelters. “ All of Dog Harmony’s programs and initiatives are either low-cost or free.
For adoptions, individualized attention is given before, during, and after to make sure the new family has the right tools to build a successful life together. The key element is education – of humans and dogs, no matter what age.
So many dogs get dropped off at shelters for reasons that are entirely preventable. Approximately 46 percent of dogs are rehomed due to behavior issues. and with proper training, that issue can usually be solved. Many dogs are also dropped off after snapping or biting a child. That is something that Dog Harmony’s children’s humane education program helps solve.
Other rescues out there are so overpopulated with pets that their focus can’t be on education. They’re often too busy trying to keep up with the amount of dogs to save that there is little time and means for education. There needed to be a rescue focused specifically on education to help keep dogs out of shelters in the first place, and Nancy Bown and her team harmonized to create that perfect fit.
Dog Harmony has always relied heavily on individual’s donations, but because of rapid expansion, they have been able to fundraise enough to cover costs for now. They have a hope of bringing in more recurring donations to cover a new building’s costs and begin using their fundraisers and kiosk to build an endowment. Nancy states, “Really, if everyone of our Facebook followers gave five to ten dollars a month, we’d be in perfect shape.”
To become involved with Dog Harmony, you may fill out a volunteer application on their website. If you wish to make a recurring donation, you may also do that online at dog-harmony.org, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q & A with Nancy Bown, – Founder, Dog Harmony
How long have you been involved with Dog Harmony?
After about ten years of training in the area, I saw first-hand the need for humane education here. In 2013 I started tossing around the idea of opening a nonprofit with education as the goal. By 2015, we had our tax exemption/nonprofit status. I almost didn’t open one because I didn’t want it to be a sad place, like many of the rescues I’ve work with before. But, when a friend of mine created a logo, which is the one we still use today, that just looked happy, I decided to go for it.
What impact has Dog Harmony had on the community in the last year?
Since January of this year, we’ve offered the community 10 different low-cost training classes, a free leash lesson with the trade in of their prong collar, four children’s humane education workshops, two lectures for adults on humane education, and a ton of other social events where people had the chance to enjoy an evening with their dog.
What is the most rewarding part of your involvement with the organization?
It’d probably have to be seeing the information really click with the kids. Our last kids’ camp was a blast and seeing them interact with the dogs and learn about training and microchips and all the information involving owning a dog was just really cool.
I also love seeing a dog really fit perfectly in a home. While we’re a low-intake shelter, we work one-on-one with the dogs a lot—training and spending time with them in general—and we have a fairly strict adoption process. So, sometimes it takes a while for a dog to be placed, but seeing them really fit in with a home makes a lot of what we see in rescue worth it.
Is Dog Harmony volunteer driven? How many?
Absolutely. Volunteers run our retail kiosks, help set up events—they do everything. Even I’m a volunteer. We only have one paid employee, and she donates way more time than she’s paid for.
Really, I think we have a core group of about 10 volunteers that help do everything, but with the new building opening and us needing to man that, we’ll be needing to expand that small group quickly.
Are there any upcoming events?
May 9- Grand Opening for our new building (organized by The Hive)
May 24- Wag the Flag
July 3- Smoke on the Coast at Destin Commons (we’ve teamed up with Café Rico)
For more information see our Facebook page and website.
Right now, we’re really excited about Wag the Flag and Smoke on the Coast. Wag the Flag’s a cute patriotic pet event where everyone can dress up their dog and enjoy some beer and wine at Grand Boulevard, and Smoke on the Coast is a huge opportunity for us to get in front of a large audience. Café Rico has some incredible food, so we’re hoping we win that, too.