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J AC K s o n v I L L e

FREE! { Boop! }


GUARDIAN { n. } a defender, protector, or keeper

2 | We rise by lifting others / Robert Ingersoll

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The DUTY Issue

eDITor’s CoLUMn


MODELS Myka, who was adopted from the Atlanta Humane Society, and her wonderful guardian, Callie. LOCATION Atlantic Beach PHOTOS BY Woof Creative Photography

You weren’t kidding, George—this column is difficult to write. I thought you were just being a pain in the patoot when you’d put it off till last minute or throw your pen up into the air saying you weren’t going to do it (thank you for always doing it anyway). I have no idea what to say here, but I’ll try and get it together—mostly because someone has to—not because I want to tell our readers that you retired last week. It really stinks not having you around the “office”. You were here a really long time.

q w et rp George was the editor of Unleash Jacksonville, but he was also my first foster, first foster failure and my second dog as an adult human. He was a discarded huntn’ dog from Birmingham, Ala., with a tattoo on his ear to prove it. He was born around the year 2000, making him about 128 years old—in dog years— when he retired. His body and mind were very tired; he was ready. We were not, of course. I’d tried to prepare myself for the past year or so—an 18-year-old dog starts to show that they are getting ready to leave in many ways. About six months ago, I asked Constance the Pet Messenger to do a reading for George to make sure he was still happy, feeling okay, and wanting to stick around. She said he wasn’t ready to go at that time; that he felt he still had a job to do—to protect me. That surprised me, as George looked very frail and he was never much of a guard dog. Fast forward to last week when we knew he was dying ... my daughter told me that she’d always asked George to look after me and protect me when she went to Chicago for the summers. What a sweet conversation they’d had time and time again and I never knew. G-man was sticking around to be my gentle guardian. I thanked him for his years of service and let him know that if he needed to go ... he didn’t need to worry. As a hound, George’s very favorite thing to do was run free. I could tell that he felt most himself—most happy—when he was unencumbered by doors, fences, or boundaries. (He was a master at shirking those things in his youth). That gives us comfort now—knowing how happy he is. He can run absolutely anywhere. Baaaroooooooo! (That’s houndspeak), Amy Olivieri, George’s momma I’ll be your I’ll be your I’ll be your The greatest

keeper for life as your guardian warrior of care, your first warden angel on call, I’ll be on demand honor of all as your guardian -Alanis Morrissette



Dog Lovers Only!

Publisher: Woof Creative, Inc. Atlantic Beach, FL Amy Olivieri | Contributors Snout Scout Marie Mack Jessie Miller Advertising We distribute to over 80 veterinarian offices from St. Augustine to Amelia Island and many other dog-friendly places all over Jacksonville. If you want to reach Jacksonville’s dog lovers, raise your hand ... and then contact us. Submit an article or photo for a future issue or blog post, please head to Follow us on Facebook to learn of contests and submission opportunities! It goes without saying (we hope) that all Unleash content is property of Woof Creative, Inc. Unauthorized reproduction in part or whole will result in immediate neutering. ©2018woofcreativeinc

An exclusive website connecting the Jacksonville dog community.

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Unleash Jacksonville magazine is available FREE at distribution points, you can thank our super duper advertisers for that!

Please support the fantastic dog-loving businesses that support us— and let them know you saw them in Unleash! NOTE: Unleash Jacksonville is for entertainment + information purposes only. We do not take responsibility for the content of our contributors, and ask that you always seek professional help when necessary.

snout scout

scout scouted your has been

One-ear-up cutie cute cute. Barks -n- Brews @ Hyperion Brewing

You are correct. This is not a dog. A kind person brought this orphan racoon to get help from the Wildlife Rescue Coalition of Northeast Florida. Compassion always!

Either Chris tells the best jokes or Cooper laughs at everything.

Ready for some cinco de Mayo or royal wedding action ... always.

Barks -n- Brews @ Hyperion Brewing

Quinn is a rescue from Turkey ... where they have a lot of stray Goldens! Ask Google to ďŹ nd you a rescue who helps these dogs.

Lana and Sandy ready to get the heck outta here. Enough of this fun in the sun.

Hobie has eyes for mom only

Kaia loves to be in the water ... but mostly she just likes to be wherever mom is.

Super stylish!

Yappy Hour @Atlantic Beach Brewery

Cute little puppy snout ... awwwwwwww. Paw Prints in the Sand 5K

Follow @unleashjax on Instagram to meet more local dogs caught by our Snout Scout! 6 | It was easier to be brave when someone needed your protection. / Robert Jordan

Don't be bored this summer, little dude! There’s lots to do! Check out for more events + dog-friendly places to visit in Jax.

JUNE | 2018

JULY/AUG | 2018

June 23 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm BARKS & BREWS @ BREWHOUND

July 10 + Aug 22 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm DOG DAY AT THE BALLPARK

Facebook: Brewhoundjax Future site of Brewhound | 2101-ish Florida Blvd, Neptune Beach Get acquainted with the land of the future site of BrewHound dog park bar! All on-leash pups welcome. Donations for beverages support Florida Urgent Rescue, Inc. – FUR.

JUNE 30 @ 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM BANDS FOR BARC DOG RESCUE Cliff’s Bar and Grill | 3033 Monument Rd., Jax Fun and rockin’ benefit to raise monies to help BARC—a non-profit that specializes in boxer rescue. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp | 301 A Philip Randolph Blvd Fans may bring their well behaved, leashed dogs to the ballpark on these days!

August 8 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm HOPS FOR HOUNDS - $15 Atlantic Beach Brewing | 725 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Bch Your $15 donation gives you a fab yoga class, one free pint of ABBC craft beer or one glass of Hogue wine as well as a chance for ABBC swag! Bring your mat and get ready to stretch. All proceeds benefit FUR SISTERS of Jax Beach!

yup! you can post your event:

buy discount gift certificates for Veterans United @ !!!


More than a

Best Friend anonymous

your son is autistic. I will never forget

hearing those words years ago. The doctors said it was mild, but he had become non-verbal and couldn’t be touched—no hugs, no kisses. It was heart shattering. At that time, little was known, and no treatment protocol existed. Being nonpharma, I hit the books and began 12 years of research to help my son. I bought a wooden swingset and I remember watching from my kitchen window, my son swing and drift into his own world, not hearing me call his name. That changed when I got him a dog.

Kelli was a large, border collie mix who was given to us by a couple who said they couldn’t handle her, that she would bite. Kelli quickly gravitated to my son and became his best friend. I remember watching my son on that swingset—Kelli by his side—she kept him in our world, and never bit or nipped. They were best friends. Eventually Kelli left us, and we adopted Buddy, a 25-pound Sheltie. Buddy did just as Kelli had—he watched over my son who, now older, would wander off. Buddy would ‘herd’ him back home when he got too far away. Buddy, also like Kelli, slept with my son, ate with my son, shared food with my son, and sat by that swingset with him to make sure

he stayed in our world.

Buddy was with us for 13 years before he became ill. My son had kept vigil over him for several days, sleeping as closely to him as he could to comfort him. On Buddy’s last day we took him to the beach. Too weak to walk, my son carried him and held him close, crying. Several hours later Buddy crossed the rainbow bridge. It was one of the saddest days of our lives. We now have two new family members, a large mixed-breed rescue, and a red-nose bully breed—both rescues. My son can’t get through the front door without being greeted, hugged, and kissed by them. They gravitate to him as Kelli and Buddy did. None of my son’s canine companions were trained service dogs. They were just loving, compassionate, intuitive, happy, and playful dogs who immediately knew who needed them and what to do. The breed is not as important as the connection between the child and the dog. In choosing a companion canine for an autistic child, I would recommend contacting a rescue organization. These incredible rescuers test the dogs for temperament, how they behave with children and other dogs before being adopted. Bigger is better, as parents with kids on the

10 | My arms would be wrapped around him like angels’ wings./ Jess C. Scott

spectrum know, our kids occasionally ‘melt down’ and you would want a ‘sturdy’ dog for those times. Goldens, labs, border collies, and bullies are some breeds which exhibit the ability to know when they are needed and when to give the child some space. Some of the rescues will even allow a sleepover to see how the child and dog get along outside of a confined area. I always allowed my son to interact with and choose the dog he wanted—the one he connected with. My son had dogs from the time he was diagnosed until present day. Whenever my son is stressed or sad, his dog is by his side, comforting him, and keeping him from retreating into that silent world that we don’t live in. He tells me today that his dogs were always forgiving, and would help him get some energy out that would otherwise annoy humans— my son’s words! They were, at times, babysitters, and even played hide and seek with him. My son, now an adult, is now considered Asperger’s and doing well. I cannot imagine how different life may have been without these canine family members in my home. I am forever grateful for what they have done for my son. •

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Michele Higham committed guardian

Every dog has its own journey. Every single animal that was put on this earth is a different individual—from dogs to horses to chickens. They need someone to look out for them. It’s a


After a spending a few hours with the woman who spoke those words—talking with and photographing her amongst the 12 rescue and foster dogs and 9 foster puppies in her care—I can confidently say Michele Higham, cofounder (with her husband, Kent) of Paw Paws Pet Rescue (PPPR) is one of the most committed people I’ve ever met. She normally gets up between 1:30 am and 2:30 am (you read that right, sleepyhead) in order to get everything she needs to get done, done, and everyone she needs to take care of, taken care of. Michele and Kent started PPPR about six years

ago as a foster-based rescue, mainly helping largebreed medical-needs dogs—those in the back rooms of shelters no one sees because they’re hurt or sick, or those from special cases. These kind of dogs don’t need another human to flake on them or pass them over because their journey has taken a difficult, arduous, or inconvenient turn. They need a commitment. Kyleigh Rose is a prime example of one of those dogs. Kyleigh was on a property with 55 other dogs in rural Georgia, 30 of which were pregnant. From all reports, the owner of the property just didn’t know about spaying and neutering. One photo of Kyleigh was all Michele needed in order to welcome her into the rescue, “Kirby, a rescuer we work with in Georgia, sent me the picture and I said, get her. I didn’t ask questions and I didn’t know exactly where she was going to go. She just looked sick and I couldn’t see anything except her holding her head in shame. Usually I have a plan in place—I had no plan—but I didn’t really think we’d awarded the honor of getting her. I just wanted to hug her and give her a chance to know what a warm home is—what a family is—what love feels like.” Michele knew nothing about Kyleigh’s medical status. She didn’t know she if she was pregnant (spoiler alert— she was), she didn’t know if she could walk (she

12 | Remember you are the voice for those who cannot talk; you are the protector of those who cannot protect themselves.” / Debasish Mridha

Happy freedom ride!

Awesome mama to 9 puppies!

couldn’t, seemingly because she had low muscle mass from repeated pregnancies). Michele didn’t know exactly what she and the rescue were committing to, financially or otherwise. All she knew was that Kyleigh needed help. Michele worked with Jennifer Hardin of Dirt Road Doggies Rescue in Georgia, to get Kyleigh to PPPR. Jennifer had been working with the owner of the 55 dogs to help get them rescued. (Thanks to Jennifer—there are now just six dogs left on the property an they’re all spayed or neutered!) “At that point, after going back and forth with Jennifer for three hours, we found out that Kyleigh was pregnant and couldn’t walk and I thought Oh no, now what? We don’t normally do

The first of Kyleigh’s puppies is adopted!

puppies ... what’s the plan now? And she ended up coming here.” Here, being Michele and Kent’s home. “She wouldn’t eat when she first got here. She was an outside dog that had never been inside of a home, so she didn’t know what to do. The first night I laid outside with her—bug spray and a blanket—with the door open, so she knew it was okay to come in if she wanted to. I had to gain her trust; she didn’t trust anything, except what she knew before, and that was all gone. By the second night she felt comfortable enough to come in. The third night she slept next to my bed and ... then she started panting. We’d had a vet appointment scheduled at 11:45 am the next day anyway to

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have her evaluated, but as we were loading up, puppies started coming out!” Kyleigh had nine beautiful, healthy puppies in seven hours. Thanks to Michele and Kent’s love and patience, Kyleigh has now acclimated to indoor living and is not only walking, but running and playing with her pups. She’s a great mama, but this will be her last litter, as she will be spayed by the time this is printed. And guess what? She has found a home and a family to love her forever! “She’s not going anywhere. She’s my girl. We’re Kyleigh failures.” Yup. She’s staying with Michele and Kent. But the puppies—they do need homes! At press time, there were still five of Kyleigh’s pups available, so if you’re interested in being part of Kyleigh’s family, please contact Paw Paws Pet Rescue. At the end of our time together, I asked Michele, What puts a smile on your face? “Besides my

grandson and granddaughter—these dogs. These dogs. Because they’ve saved me. In return, I’ve been able to give back to them. And when they’re well enough to move on to the next part of their journey, they’re saving someone else and making room for another dog.” Kent concurs, “The dogs make her happiest. You could ask her to ride the Harley or go on vacation, nah. Go save a dog, yah.” Yes, if there’s one thing Michele Higham is, it’s committed. • Michele and Kent will be moving their home and the rescue base to a larger property late this year. They’re looking forward to having more space for intake/evaluation and the housing of dogs, but Paw Paws will still be a foster-based rescue—fosters are always needed! Please go to for more information about fostering, adopting, or donating to this wonderful organization! Learn more about Kyleigh’s story and see more photos of her and the puppies on Facebook: A New Life for Kyleigh Rose.


Susan Towler gets things done. She’s brutally honest, she swears in every other sentence, she’s strong, and she has one of the kindest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met. Her catch phrase when anything goes right is “Winning.” Yah, she’s pretty great. Susan is not the type of person to sit around and let someone else do something if she has the power to do it, especially when it comes to dogs that are in dire situations or those that have special needs. Susan runs Kamp Kritter, a sanctuary and shelter on the west side of town for dogs with bascially no other place to go. She pulls dogs from shelters or takes them in from crazy situations. (PLEASE note, Kamp Kritter does not take owner surrendered dogs, so don’t even ask.) The rescue bug nibbled on Susan way back in 1994, when she went on a pet sitting job and saw a dog near the road in front of a lil champ store. She took him home and called him Sir Little Champ— he was the first Kamp resident. She’d helped animals on her own for many years until it escalated to where she finally incorporated as a non-profit in 2004. There are currently 13 residents at Kamp Kritter, and four that are adoptable. Recently Susan, who has always been a big dog kinda gal, has also sorta-kinda fallen in love with the Boston Terrier breed, thanks to a little hot mess named Ollie. She’s started a Boston Terrier division of Kamp Kritter, called The Boston Brigade.. She will pull, what she calls, “hot

mess Bostons” from shelters and other situations and give them the care they need and deserve, and then find them homes. They currently have three Bostons that are looking for families (hint hint). Susan still runs The Barking Lot, a boarding facility and pet sitting service in addition to Kamp Kritter, and she retired from the Air Force Reserves with just under 25 years service seven years ago. But, Susan is most passionate about animals that no one else will take. “I’ve always been the misfit and black sheep of my family. I identify with misfits. Even though I’m a retired military officer and I was a commander and I’ve had my success; I have a master’s degree and worked in the White House ... at the end of the day, I’m a free spirit, and I want to make a difference. I can make a difference in these animals’ lives, and I don’t have to get dressed up for work or wear a bra ... and you can quote me on that.” Ok, Susan. I will. And I’ll give you a high five. Susan says the hardest part of her job is seeing what people do to dogs. “It’s soul breaking and you can’t save them all. But I’m going to do what I can. I have no idea what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this. I don’t think I would want to do anything else. My background is rich with lots of other types of experiences, but I’m an organized crazy dog lady in my soul.” You’re smart folk—you can surmise for yourself what kind of time and >>

Susan Towler

guardian of misfits

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Hoss came from a situation where 15 hounds were left behind on a property being repossessed. No owner, no family members, nowhere to go. Kamp Kritter worked with several other area rescue groups to help the #liveoak15. She took Hoss in and he’s doing great! Hoss is available for adoption at Kamp Kritter.

resources that caring for a camp full of special for. She’d love a few more serious, consistent volunteers who know it’s not going to be all just needs animals takes. Kamp Kritter is Susan’s fun and petting dogs, but also hard life—it’s clearly her purpose. work like bathing and cleaning. It’s all You can tell by the way the gotta be done! animals in her care look at I asked Susan if there was one thing her. she could say to people on any topic, When asked what is on what would it be? “Do not give up the Kamp Kritter wish list, your dog. Keep your f’n dog. Try without hesitation, Susan everything to help. Do everything says, “Another building. you can to try and keep your dog. We’re looking to add a 10’ That and really think about the x 20’ building to camp, commitment you’re making before where we’ll have a bedroom you get a dog. Can you care for this so an attendant can be on dog for its lifetime? And spay and premesis at all times, but neuter and spay and neuter! And seperate from the residents then neuter again.” Listen to Susan, (who very much enjoy people—she’s winning. • barking and such) and also a Looking for someone to truly love? Kamp Kritter rescue foundation is a receiving area for adopters, Betty needs you! She is a resident as well as an area that’ll help nonprofit 501c-3 no kill animal shelter at Kamp Kritter. Susan doesn’t in Jacksonville, Florida. At their facility, teach residents how to live know her past, but she is one of the dogs who have been abused, abandoned, in a home, and an isolation scarest dogs I’ve ever met ... you can or mistreated often find the first safe area if we would have a dog tell she wants love so badly. environment they have ever known. You with a contagious illness. Betty would really benefit from a can become part of the Kamp Kritter loving, patient home. She is the Kamp Kritter has a few very safety net for misfit animals, inquire about sweetest thing! dedicated volunteers, who volunteering, or donate toward the new Foster or adopt Betty! Susan is enormously grateful building at 16 | We are here because there are things that need our help. Like the planet. Like each other. Like animals. The world is like a garden, and we are its protectors./ B.B.King

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forever loved



It was an utter shock to learn of the sudden passing of our young friend, Steve Flynn (aka, Stevie; aka Stove) earlier this year. For those who knew Steve, they most certainly also know his wife, Manda Jo, as they were a formidable, funny, compassionate, exuberant team—rarely seen apart. They worked together to advocate and care for animals—from dogs everyone else had written off, to abandonded baby squirrels. Let’s just go ahead and make the bold statement that if you were any kind of animal in need—the Flynn squad had your back. With his bright smile and booming laugh, Steve made his presence known in any room, and he volunteered much of his free time where needed. He was an advisor under the events committee on the board for Friends of Jacksonville Animals (FOJA), which is a non-profit dedicated to saving the lives of shelter animals. There was nothing Steve wouldn’t do to raise money for FOJA, and that included waitressing in a tutu and funny glasses. The void we’re feeling from the loss of Steve is absolutely heartbreaking. As Manda Jo struggles to learn how to live life without her most favorite person, she needs the love and support of our community. Steve was one of the good ones who was really making a difference, not just talking about it. Because of his larger-than-life spirit and Manda’s mission to make sure his legacy persists, Steve will live on in the animals Manda Jo will continue to advocate for. We miss you, Stove. Rest in peace, buddy. If you would like to make a donation in the memory of Steve Flynn and save the life of an animal, please go to Your donation is a tax deduction and will help make a big difference in the homeless animal community.

shout outs

All-star guardians Roy Daniel lives in Baker County, where the amount of dogs being abandoned is unimaginable—and it never ends. Roy goes above and beyond rescuing, trapping, and making sure numerous dogs who are abandoned in the forest get to safety. He’s definitely a hero to the many unwanted, throw-away dogs in the forests of Baker County and to the people who have come to know him and his great efforts! - Sally Isom, Fawns Small Dog Rescue

Jason Steedley has spent years helping, not just our shelter, but rescues all over the county and surrounding areas. He helps transport, work events, helps lost and found animals, and also does adoptions. He has his own facebook group where he helps people find homes for their animals rather than turning them into a shelter. Jason always has a kind word and a smile on his face. He is a true passionate animal lover! - Sherry Mansfield, Executive Director Safe Animal Shelter

Fosters creating happily ever afters I’m fostering because every shelter and rescue is full beyond belief. Tyni is a rescue from Pit Sisters but she isn’t going anywhere—she is perfect for our home. Foster fail! We also fostered Kevin from The London Sanctuary— he just got adopted by a wonderful family! Fostering is so rewarding—you get to love them until they find their happily ever after. – Heather Henderson My most memorable foster was Crosby. I met him while volunteering with Pit Sisters at their TAILS Center. He was rescued from a fighting ring in Putnam County and was almost euthanized because he was so scared. He cowered and shook in his kennel when anyone came close, but we seemed to have a connection from the beginning. I brought him home to meet my pack. This former fighting dog loved playing with other dogs and he learned to trust me. To earn the trust of Crosby is something that I will never take for granted. And yes, he made me a foster failure! Crosby is now a happy member of our family. - Lisa Graham

My first fostering experience was when I lived on St. Thomas, USVI. A friend who worked for the Humane Society told me about a dog who had been returned several times because he didn't bark enough! I fostered and found him a home with an incredibly loving family. Their two little boys had asked for a dog for Christmas that "needed them" and not a puppy that they would buy. They named him Skittles and that’s his happily ever after story! - Jen Stafford My most memorable foster was a throw-away 5-week-old deaf and blind hound puppy named Journey. I trained her, and found her an amazing home by the time she was five months old. She is four-and-a-half now, and her adoptive mama and I keep in touch very often. So rewarding! Little Journey taught me so so much and I am grateful for my time with her. - Joann Perez Guardian m | 21


a ‘lil Q&A with

Dee Zagari

Guardian of the Galaxy (In Neptune Beach)

Dee and side kick in-house animal control kitty, Fat Cat

What is a typical day for you? I get in at 7am and leave at around 6:30pm. I always come in to make sure they haven’t put any new animals in over night, then I take care of the house cat, Fat Cat. Then I clean and normally head to patrol the beach. After that, I do a parameter run of the whole city and Jarboe Park. Then it’s all about calls. Neptune Beach is usually pretty quiet. Everyone looks out for each other.

What kind of calls do you respond to? We mainly handle domestics—cats and dogs. We I want to be an animal control officer when I only help wildlife if they’re injured. Nuisance wildlife is grow up ... says every little girl, right? Okay, maybe not handled by Florida Fish and Wild Life or the Wildlife every little girl. It’s not a job that most little people maybe Rescue Coalition of Northeast Florida. If it’s sick or even know exists, I would imagine. Many adults may injured, we will bring it to Shorelines. If they can help it have a negative connotation when they hear “animal they will. Certain times of year, we have rabbits. People control officer” or see the truck with the cages drive get them for Easter and find out they’re a lot of work and past. I gotta come clean here—I used to be one of those release them. Then we have to go out and try to catch people. I’d be hunched over, wearing a black hoodie, these domesticated rabbits who don’t belong/won’t reaching to sneakily let my dog off leash on the beach survive in the wild. [ Don’t do it, people. ] and then continue on, not enjoying our time because I was so stressed out, keeping vigilance for the evil “ticket Do you have a most memorable call? lady.” I thought animal control officers hated animals During my time in Neptune Beach, it would be the and truly relished giving out citations. goat running loose at the five-way. It took us about 45 I needed to get to the bottom of why someone would minutes to catch her—every time we would get her want this job. I had some questions for Dee Zagari, fenced in, she’d go right through the slots of the fence. who’s been the Neptune Beach Animal Control Officer Dealing with traffic and everyone looking to see what for the last six years (and was with Atlantic Beach was going on—that was crazy. Goats are not allowed in Animal Control prior to that) to find out why she’s so the city, so I’m sure her owners didn’t want to claim her mean and why she hates animals. Turns out, neither of because of the fine. Her name is now Annabelle, and we those things are true! Whaaa ... how can this be? relocated her to Ponte Vedra. She’s very sweet! Dee ... why do you hate animals? I don’t. I don’t believe you. Prove it. I actually have an animal background. I have a associates in equine training and a bachelors in equine science. Animals—especially horses—are my absolute passion. What made you interested in animal control? I’ve always been interested in the structure of law enforcement, but for me, it’s all about the animals. I can really make a difference in their lives.

What’s the most difficult thing about animal control? When I have to deal with neglect and cruelty. Some people just need education because they honestly didn’t know. But when it’s a blatant lack of food, water, or shelter—common sense things—that’s difficult to deal with. It’s not a big thing in Neptune Beach, but there are some tough cases. The part that I hate the most is writing people senseless tickets, but it’s my job and I have to do it—if you’re breaking an ordinance, I have to write a ticket. People always say Don’t you have something better to do? No. This is literally why I’m here. To keep people and pets safe.

22 | Let us be protectors of all of Gods Creatures / Pope Francis

What are the citations? We do three stages—first offense is $50, then it goes to $75 then to $100 for everything except cruelty/ neglect, leaving dog in a hot car, and dog bites.

Atlantic Beach Animal Control 904-247-5866 Neptune Beach Animal Control 904-270-2411 Jacksonville Beach Animal Control 904-247-6195

What is something you’d like people to know Wildlife Rescue Coalition of NE FL about your job? (904) 779-5569 The number one thing is people always say I must hate animals. I’m not in this job for money, it’s not If you’re interested in becoming a Volunteer for the Neptune Beach Animal Control, glamorous ... so, it’s all about the love of animals. I please contact Dee Zagari at 904.270.2411. would do anything to help an animal. I can’t even think why someone would get into this position if they didn’t love animals. It’s all for the love. None of needs as well. In Neptune, we need volunteers to us enjoy driving the beach and writing tickets. But help in the kennel on my days off—if you’re over 18 and can pass a drug test—come help! I encourage it’s part of our job. people to reach out to their animal controls to find Do you have any hot tips for people who’ve out what’s needed. lost their pets? C’mon Dee ... Why can’t dogs be off the leash on The first thing to do is go on Next Door and the beach? Facebook and then—of course, the cities don’t It would be great if they could, right? But, the main particularly care for them but—put up flyers with thing is safety. You have control of your dog when at least one good photo. Each beach has their own it’s on a leash, and you don’t have control when animal control, so if you’re at the beach, call them all and bring a flyer to each one ... we work together. it’s not, no matter what you think. With birds and I like to know what each animal control has in their kids (some kids like dogs and some kids don’t) kennels. I’m constantly on Facebook in the Lost and and cyclists ... and other dogs—your dog may Found pages trying to help reunite pets with their be friendly, but there may be a dog walking on a people. We want an empty kennel. And also go to leash that is not and your dog runs up to it and it the vets—and bring your flyer. may get hurt. The rules are truly there for safety. I always use my mom as an example—she loves What is the process when a dog or cat is dogs, but if she was approached by a dog she picked up as a stray? didn’t know on the beach, she’d most likely have a Here in Neptune, we hold for five days. 95% of our heart attack. We try to be as accommodating as dogs that come in as strays go home that day or we can, but our objective is to keep everyone safe. the next morning—which is great. We don’t have very many people who don’t claim their animals. What do you do when you’re not working? I love being at home hanging out with my three How many times have you been bitten? Just four times in 15 years. I’m very cautious. [Read: old pups. I also just started riding horses again, good at what she does.] Once was a cat—all four which I’m extremely excited about.

teeth into my calf, and it twisted it’s face and shook. Is there anything else you’d like people to That hurt. I’ve also gotten bitten by a Chow, a know about being an animal control officer? Husky, and Fat Cat. We’re not mean! We’re very approachable. We loooove talking about animals, and each one Is there anything the public can do to help of us are specific to the kind of dogs we love. Animal Controls at the beaches? I personally LOVE old dogs, and my breed of We always take donations—anything from old blankets, towels, and sheets, to pet food donations, choice would be Belgian Malinois. I do what I do treats, and toys—if we can’t use it at the beaches, because I love the job. Next time you see me, wave or say hi! I’m really not so bad. we take it to Animal Care and Protective Services downtown or the Humane Society. We reach out to Thank you for clearing up those misconceptions for other rescues to see if they can use it as well. us, Dee, and for all you do to keep us and our pets Each animal control also has their own volunteer safe! We appreciate you. •

Guardian m | 23

living well

What’s the deal with

CRUELTY FREE? Hey everyone! It’s Gretel, your new Unleash CrueltyFree Correspondent, here. I want to tell you a little about myself and where I come from. I’ll warn you, it’s not a good place and it may be hard to read about. Thankfully, I’m in a wonderful place with a doting mommy now, but I want to tell you about some bad stuff that you may not know about to help and try to keep other animals from seeing what I’ve seen. I was purposefully bred for research—that means I was born specifically to have household products, beauty product ingredients, or pharmaceuticals tested on me. The only times we come out of our cages are when researchers take us to perform their often painful and sometimes lethal tests on us. Tests range from having shampoo or other chemicals poured into our eyes, spots of our hair shaved to have substances put on our skin to see if it burns us, masks placed over our mouths and noses so we are forced to inhale toxic fumes. Most often, these painful experiments end up either killing us, or at

the end of the tests we are euthanized when we’re no longer useful or the researchers need to dissect us to study the effects of whatever was tested on us. It’s an awful existence. We have no guardian to save us from the pain we endure. It is not required by law in the United States to test beauty or household products on animals. The only law we have is for pharmaceuticals, which I wish wasn’t a law, but that’s a fight for another day. Every year between 60,000 and 70,000 beagles alone are used in experiments, mainly for chemical testing. Let those numbers sink in. That ‘s a lot of needless cruel experiments are being performed on animals every day. We need to change this! I’ll be helping you learn to live cruelty free in coming issues and on the blog—so please check that out. We’ll do this together! Thanks for reading. Love, Gretel

YOU CAN BE A GUARDIAN! • Only buy products that have not been tested on animals. Use your wallet to say you don’t want animals to be hurt! Write companies! Let them know that you won’t buy their products until they vow to stop animal testing for good. • Look for the Leaping Bunny symbol on the products you purchase • Check out • Download the FREE Cruelty Cutter App in the Apple or Android store and simply scan barcodes as you shop! YOU can be a defender for all of the animals like me who have spent time in, or are still in laboratories all across the country. YOU can easily be the voice that we don’t have. YOU can be our guardian just by making smart purchase choices. >> Learn more at <<

24 | Man is not the lord of all the world’s animals. He is the protector. / John Forsythe


one leg at a time.

maRIE maCK

One Saturday morning in March I took off from

Atlantic Beach to Palm Coast to pick up a pup named Sally. Sally was being cared for by a pointer rescue in Miami and had been adopted out of state. She needed transportation to her new home in Brunswick, GA, and the lucky pup got just that, thanks to a network of volunteers through Doobert. My leg of the trip was Palm Coast to Jacksonville. This was my first transport, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, and admittedly, was a bit anxious. The coordinator of the trip had all driver’s phone numbers and kept us informed along the way. Sally was coming a long way and if one driver was running behind, the coordinator would reach out and let the rest of us know—it was all very organized. I arrived at our pre-determined meeting place in Palm Coast, and the other driver arrived shortly afterward. He introduced me to Sally, handed me her paperwork, and off he went. I gave Sally some love and walked her around for a good leg-stretch. When it was time to go, Sally eagerly jumped up in my truck and we began our trip to Jacksonville! When I arrived at the meeting spot in Jacksonville, the next driver was waiting on me. I introduced her to Sally, handed her the paperwork, and my job was done. It felt awesome to be part of helping this sweet girl get to her forever home! To volunteer or for more information, please visit


Julie Marco guardian of jet set pets

What distinguishes Jet Set Pets (JPS) from other train/ board/daycare facilities? In this humble interview’s opinion, it’s the absolute passion co-owner, Julie Marco, has for dogs. In the actual planning and construction of the Jet Set Pets facility—her research and attention to detail—has created a space that is beautiful and intuitive, with the comfort and safety of other peoples’ dogs being the ultimate goal. And, now that JSP has finally opened, Julie is there pretty much every day, making sure all their furry guests are happy, and that her care and customer service standards are being met. Let’s talk about Julie’s standards for a sec. Where a lot of facilities will take on more and more dogs to maximize profits, Julie has purposefully placed their capacity at about 60 dogs. She wants to be able to know all the dogs’ names and have the time to look at each one at least 10-15 times per day—whether they’re in play group, enjoying their personal suite, eating a Kong, listening to music specific to helping relax animals, or sleeping restfully. “I can’t cuddle and hug 100-150 dogs each day. I’d feel burned out. I can, however, learn the names of 60 dogs and provide them excellent care.”

River thinks every day is magical at Jet Set Pets

them play and run, or train them. Whatever you prefer—because that is all we do. We are here for you and your dog.” Julie and her carefully chosen staff want to be able to write a report card that is truthful about who your dog’s friends are and the things they enjoyed while at JSP. Was it the ice cream they loved best, or hanging out with best friend Stella, or the cuddles from the staff? Julie opened JSP about nine months ago with her husband, David, an avid aviator, for people who like to travel and can’t always take their dogs. “We know that a lot of people feel the same way we do about our dogs—they’re family—and we wanted to give our beach neighbors and friends a lovely place to bring their dogs that would be a vacation for them as well.”

Training is another passion for Julie, who has been a trainer herself for a decade. She has also competed quite successfully with her own dogs in dock diving, agility, protection sports, lure coursing, rally, and competition obedience. Having a trainer that has actually competed in dog sports can be an advantage, says Julie, because they put their own dogs in situations most dogs don’t go into and they have to figure out how to make the dog successful no matter what fears, excitement, or confusion exist. “We get amazing results from all our training options from our 2- and 4-week training camps (where the dog lives with us while learning), to private lessons, or group lessons—there is something for every type of situation. We’ve been getting a lot positive Julie is adamant feedback that the training we provide has worked about giving for our clients and their dogs in the real world! It personal attention, thrills me beyond measure to know we are making “We’re the local a difference. When a dog knows what to expect place that will know and what is expected, it not only makes the family your name and happier, but the dog is much happier, too!” your dog’s name, and even your dog’s Remember when we mentioned that Julie has chosen quality over quantity by capping their idiosyncrasies! capacity at 60 dogs? Yah, well, word has gotten We can cuddle out about that. People seem to really appreciate your dog, let

26 | When we love someone, we make it our business to protect them. / Donna Goddard

Jet Set Pets’ Small dog play group action

Roy and Derek are new daycare BFFs

that kind of attention, and lately, JSP has been full every day. Julie doesn’t want to let anyone down, so she’s asking that if you know you’re going out of town, to please make advanced reservations. “We are so excited that people like our service, but we are now asking all customers to book in advance if possible, to make sure you get the dates you need. Again ... we do not want to run a place with hundreds of dogs. We want to take excellent care of the amazing dogs entrusted to us. We’re achieving that goal and will continue to be the best dog care guardian at the beach.”

Cowboy, taking a soothing jaccuzzzz

Jet Set Pets is a beautiful and thoughtful facility with lovely, local owners. I would encourage you to take a tour when you get a chance—and say hi to Julie! •

(904) 372-4608 • 949 12th Ave South, Jacksonville Beach

Guardian m | 27

the trip of a lifetime

Anyone who can dust themselves off daily from the red sandy earth of Utah after a day of caring for parrots, cats, dogs, puppies, pigs, horses, and goats should be considered a lifelong guardian, or animal angel on earth. And that’s what you’d definitely call those working at Best Friends Animal Society, a magnificent sanctuary for any animal who wants to experience unadulterated love. I was able to visit this unique place in Kanab, Utah, on a recent trip, and it was nothing like I’ve ever experienced! Utah absolutely blew my mind with her amazing views, but for this Florida girl, adjusting to life in the canyons was difficult. I wasn’t prepared for above-sea-level running, so I was left gasping for air while on a run, due to the altitude. And let’s not forget about the dry atmosphere—wow, was my nose happy when I came back to humidity! The reason for the visit was to experience the animals, soak up the love, and embrace this place I get to call my dream job (I also work remotely for Best Friends as a human resource recruiter). For 20 years I’ve dreamed of visiting this sanctuary, and it exceeded my expectations. I won’t spoil all the nooks and crannies, except for one thing that utterly amazed me. I was lucky to take a Grand Sanctuary tour, and if you do nothing more than take a twohour tour, you will be beyond satisfied. We stopped in Dog Town and went inside one of the many brick buildings. From the outside, it looks like your typical kennel housing homeless dogs, similar to the ones we see here in Florida. The magic unfolds once inside. It is shaped like an octagon with all the kennel runs facing the middle. They (the dogs) can see all that’s going on, each other, and who comes and goes—genius! This cuts down on the constant


Jessie Miller, Julie Castle, Sandy Golding, Gregory Castle

barking that is typical of any facility that houses dogs, much less dogs with unsettled pasts. Imagine being in a place that is familiar and not being able to see anything only hearing lots of noises and wondering what the heck is going on? That’s what most animal shelter facilities are like, no wonder many dogs don’t adjust well. Not at Best Friends. They have put considerable thought into making sure animals have a place that caters to them and their needs. This is just one of the oodles of nuggets that illustrates Best Friends commitment to animal welfare. Put this place on your bucket list and go visit, I mean really go and see for yourself the magnificence it presents. Not only is the sanctuary itself full of goodness, but the people, staff, and volunteers that you encounter are dedicated souls who embrace hard work to give animals a better life. I am truly grateful I get to call myself one of the guardians at Best Friends Animal Society. When you combine a bunch of like-minded people set on a mission to wake up every single day committed to saving lives one paw, one tail wag, one nose at a time, you get a group of hearts that get busy making a flipping difference from kennel designs to community programs! The Best Friends Animal Society team is committed to Save Them All and they are doing it Nationwide, every day, all year long! • The mission of Best Friends Animal Society is to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets. They do this by helping end the killing in America’s animal shelters through building community programs and partnerships all across the nation. They believe that by working together we can Save Them All. For more, please head over to:

28 | I was misplaced air that cradled all around you, held to cobalt skies to shelter your fledgling wings. / Phen Weston

Guardian s | 29

ALL DOGS ALL DAY, BABY Looking for a restaurant patio, coffee shop, or brewery where your dog is more than welcome? How about an awesome new vet, specialist, groomer, or trainer? What about a dog-friendly realtor? Jump on our dog-friendly directory and we’ll show you all the best. Want to find a dogfriendly activity for next weekend? Check out our sweet dog-approved calendar. Dog parks? Yup, search our Outdoor Romp category. Looking to adopt? (You know you can adopt any breed, right? We don’t have to keep saying it?) We’ve got local rescues + shelter resources for ya. Oh! And swag. Get your Adopt Play Love + Single Dog Lover stuff in our new store! DECALS!


30 | For every soul there is a guardian watching it. / The Koran


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Give w| 31

Looking for summer email for more info on these love? fantastic love-of-a-lifetimes! FreCKLes

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AGE: 12 years BREED: Beagle-Cocker Spaniel ABOUT ME: My world has been turned upside down in the past few months. My human and I lost our home in a fire. Then my mom became ill and the family took me to animal control — I lost the only mom I’d had since I was a puppy.

AGE: 3 years BREED: Black and Tan Hound ABOUT ME: I’m house and crate trained. I have a good amount of energy, so would do best in an active family. I enjoy car rides, other dogs, and older kids (cats and young kids unknown but can test). I have a sweet temperament!



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AGE: 1-2 years BREED: The bulldog mix ABOUT ME: I love having a playmate my size to run and play chase with! I’m very loving and enjoy cuddling up and giving my human all the love I have to offer. I’m fully vetted—utd on vaccinations, rabies, spayed, microchipped and heartworm negative. Woop woop! CONTACT: POOCHIE’S PET RESCUE

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AGE: 1-2 years BREED: Lab mix ABOUT ME: I will always greet you with a big beautiful smile and wagging tail. I love attention so much that I’m eager to come every time I’m called! I’m very friendly, love to be petted, and cuddled, and, BONUS! I’m housetrained! CONTACT: POOCHIE’S PET RESCUE

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BONDED PAIR-MUST BE ADOPTED TOGETHER These pretty poodle ladies were surrendered together when their family no longer had the financial ability to care for them. Muddy (12) is “mom”— she has cataracts but navigates well. She loves everyone, loves to play with toys, and has a sunny disposition. Her good humor is contagious! Candy Crush (11) is very sweet and loving! She’s reserved when first meeting new people, but warms up quickly. She loves treats and is very bonded to her mother, Muddy. She loves car rides and is housetrained. Both ladies are excellent with men, women, children, and other dogs; cats are unknown. CONTACT: COASTAL POODLE RESCUE, INC.

WATerMeLon AGE: 2 years BREED: Calico ABOUT ME: I’m a very sweet indoor cat. I am NOT a dog. I get along with others and love to cuddle. My owner sadly surrendered me because he lost his house. CONTACT: SAFE ANIMAL SHELTER

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LADy PrIss ✓ Dogs ✖ Cats ✖ Kids AGE: 5 1/2 years BREED: Rottie Mix ABOUT ME: I am a very dedicated and loyal dog. My owner recently passed away. Please come and get me so I can have a new furever home. CONTACT: SAFE ANIMAL SHELTER

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AGE: 4 1/2 years BREED: Ridgeback/Redbone Coonhound ABOUT ME: I’m about 60 lbs., playful, good with most other dogs, great on leash, maybe ok with cats. I like a medium activity level, and am ok with older kids. Adopt me! I just want to be loved so badly! CONTACT: FLORIDA URGENT RESCUE (FUR)

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34 | Guardian

Smitten | 35

Deliah Morrisseau, 6

36 | We rise by lifting others / Robert Ingersoll

Guardian Issue  

An issue dedicated to those that defend, protect and keep dogs that need them!

Guardian Issue  

An issue dedicated to those that defend, protect and keep dogs that need them!