Hope2K9: Educate, Empower and Support
By Kathy Hosler
Photos by Lacey Michelle Photography
“We work to educate and support struggling owners whose pets have behavior or other issues. We try to get to the source of the dog’s problem, and then resolve it.
“Our mission is to help stop the flow of dogs that are coming into shelters and rescues, and are ultimately unnecessarily euthanized or are just languishing and not living their best life.”
Hope2K9 is located in beautiful Valley Center, California, about 40 minutes from San Diego. They have ten spacious acres, and at present, have a new kennel building under construction.
“When we founded the organization it was initially a training–based rescue that provides trained, adoptable dogs,” Cameron says. “When a dog is accepted into the Hope2K9 rescue program, it is fully trained before it is placed into a new home. That training can take anywhere from 2–6 months.”
They have also incorporated a unique boarding program. The boarding fees are used to fund the rescue work they do, including training classes and socialization programs that they offer to the community. And the boarding fees are tax deductible for the client.
There is immense interest in the group training classes that they hold on site. It’s called Hope4Hounds and is a key pillar of the Hope2K9 organization and how they fulfill their mission to help people stay the course, especially with difficult dogs. Classes are donation-based and open to the public.
They have training seminars where other trainers are invited to speak. They also go into schools and the community to provide education and bring forward information about things such as how to prevent bites and improve behavior. These are ultimately connected to why many dogs are re–homed or euthanized.
“The services we provide are really about helping people to experience more trust, respect, and control in their relationship with their dogs so their dogs can be included in more aspects of their life,” Cameron says. “It’s very fulfilling to see the transformation in dogs that may have been slated for euthanasia as they become successful members of the family.”
Hope2K9 offers overnight boarding to dogs of all ages, breeds and behavior backgrounds. They can handle many dogs that other facilities cannot.
“A lot of people seek us out because their dog cannot be boarded successfully other places because of their behavior issues. When a boarding facility is run by professional trainers, it’s very different than just having kennel staff,” says Cameron.
“Our boarding environment is a lot like the average family home,” Cameron continues. “We place a lot of emphasis on structure and that’s the main reason why we can succeed with a lot of the dogs we take in for boarding, training, rescue, and rehab. For example, we will have the dogs practice a down/stay in the dining room while we eat dinner. Then later we all hang out in the family room and interact.”
They also board dogs for individuals who are deployed or have become temporarily displaced from housing so that their dogs are not at risk of being re–homed or surrendered.
Hope2K9 has a ‘cool’ way to provide shade over some training areas, and at the same time go green and save energy.
“We did an above ground solar array because it provides a shade structure,” Cameron says. “It also allows us to expand and have access to solar all over our property. Our outside enclosures can have light in the evenings. Our solar setup and our decision to move in that direction has a multitude of long–term benefits. It provides all the electricity we need now and in the future. Now, we don’t have to panic when we see our air conditioning bill.”
Hope2K9 offers shadow and mentorship programs. Trainers travel from all over to come out and see their programs—both for the professional dog training and also the non–profit aspect. Attendees learn how to get the results that Hope2K9 gets with the dogs in their adoption program, adopter compliance, and adopters staying the course and not returning the dog. These are huge challenges for the average rescue organization.
With the mentorship program, people can get a taste of whether they want to get into the industry, how we set things up, what’s working, and what’s not worked in the past,” says Cameron. “We coach people and assist in burnout support. How you run any business is a reflection of your overall process. It really does come back to the core elements we preach about. We are helping people to step up, stay the course, and do right by their dogs.
“We present lots of classes and resources, both in person and online, to resolve behavior issues that often result in a pet being re-homed,” says Cameron. “We have a lot of content available on our website, www.hope2K9.com. We provide video tutorials and community support to educate people.
“We look at social media as a way to give information and empower people to solve their own problems,” Cameron says. “Social media is how the bulk of people are attracted to our business. For us, it’s all about sharing tangible action steps and information about what we do and how we do it to build trust and familiarity in our prospective clients—and for them to feel comfortable about the training and activities their dogs are getting.”
A lot of the content Hope2K9 is presenting is geared toward helping the overall community of rescue find a better way to function and create a more lasting change in the issues around unwanted dogs.
Hope2K9’s goal to educate, empower and support has made a tremendous difference to the people and pets in their immediate area and far beyond.