Patrick Messenger and Kathy Mahoney, who have never met in person.
It really takes a village, a set of incredible connections and a little bit of financial support to help make sure these dogs go from being days away from being put down to having a loving family … This is almost like a calling. Every time we save a dog it’s a miracle. – Kathy Mahoney
LOUISVILLE, Ky. November 14, 2017
When Patrick Messenger, the owner of the Louisville Dog Wizard dog training franchise, got an email from someone affiliated with a central Kentucky shelter back in the Spring of 2014, he was pretty sure it was spam. The shelter representative said she had a tough case dog who needed someone to take him, train him and adopt him out – and she had a sponsor from Boston. Messenger replied with details and a quote, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t going anywhere.
Within a few days, Cash, the at-risk dog, had a new lease on life and a friendship between Messenger and Kathy Mahoney, the sponsor from Boston, had been struck. Now, three years later, that friendship continues and Mahoney and Messenger have saved the lives of more than 20 at-risk dogs from high-kill shelters in rural Kentucky.
“We rescued Cash and everything went well – we adopted him, trained and rehabilitated him, and found him a great home. After that, every few months I would get another email from a Kentucky shelter letting me know there was another dog and another opportunity to work with Kathy. Neither of us are affiliated with a specific shelter here in Kentucky, but we’ve built this great partnership that has saved many lives,” Messenger said. “It’s strange because we’ve never met, but Kathy feels like family. She’s an angel in the wings for these animals who are literally in a life and death situation. It’s amazing to know she’s out there, tapped into the shelter network and willing to help save animals 14 hours away.”
Messenger opened his Louisville Dog Wizard franchise in May of 2013. After three years of growth, he brought on Greg Bloomfield as his business partner and they hired trainer Andy Martin shortly after. Messenger is also an investor and mentor for the Grand Rapids Dog Wizard. The Dog Wizard offers a wide variety of dog training services, including aggression rehab, baby prep, leash walking, obedience, problem solving, puppy classes, rescue rehab, separation anxiety and socialization. Messenger – and his own four dogs – help rehabilitate and train the rescues themselves before adopting them through his own network.
Kathy worked as a math teacher before leaving to raise her family with her husband, who works as a banker. She’s heavily involved with Greyhound Friends of Massachusetts and frequently steps in to rescue animals who are older or dealing with health issues – whether they are Greyhounds or not. She’s loved 18 of her own dogs over the years. Although she says they aren’t wealthy, she makes animal welfare a priority. Navigating the system to find dogs in need has almost become a job in itself.
“It really takes a village, a set of incredible connections and a little bit of financial support to help make sure these dogs go from being days away from being put down to having a loving family. We’ve lost count of how many animals we’ve saved together – Patrick says it’s about 20, but I think it’s more than that. This is almost like a calling. Every time we save a dog it’s a miracle,” Mahoney said.
Since January of 2017, Mahoney and Messenger have been working mostly with Holly Cichelli, the Animal Control Officer at Montgomery County Animal Shelter. Back in January, when Cichelli’s shelter had seven dogs set to be euthanized, she took to the virtual streets for help. Mahoney saw her plea for help on social media.
“I looked at these animals and, even though they were struggling, I saw hope in each and every one. I started networking like crazy to find solutions to saving those 7 dogs. Kathy saw our post on social media and that’s where our relationship started. With her help and a few other resources, we saved all 7 of those dogs,” Cichelli said. “We are a small, rural, open intake animal shelter with a limited budget, no medical care and no trainers. We rely heavily on community support and blessings like Patrick and Kathy to save lives. My job, no matter what I was hired for, is to try to save every animal that comes through the door.”
Messenger has also been a helpful resource when Cichelli finds herself face to face with a behavioral issue she isn’t sure how to fix. She said it’s important to know there’s someone like Messenger she can call for advice. But for Cichelli, the partnership with Messenger and Mahoney goes beyond the number of dogs rescued – it often comes down to just having someone in your corner.
“We see people drop dogs off at our door every day without another thought – even when I tell them we have no space and the dog will be euthanized – and it’s heartbreaking. This job is emotionally draining and it can be expensive to get dogs the care they need. Knowing there are people out there like Patrick and Kathy is just a relief and a blessing on so many levels. It’s like I have a team to boost my spirits and help me find successes, even though I’m facing a constant uphill battle.”
The Dog Wizard Franchise is an emerging and successful dog training franchise system based in Charlotte. The company was founded in 2005 by Gretchen Hollifield, who recently partnered with Franchise Funding Group in Cincinnati to accelerate the franchise system’s growth and help positively impact more dogs and families throughout America. There are currently 20 franchise locations in the United States.
For more information or to schedule a free evaluation for your dog with the Louisville Dog Wizard, call (502)272-6446, email [email protected] or visit http://www.LouisvilleDogWizard.com. Louisville Dog Wizard serves the greater Louisville area.
About The Dog Wizard: The Dog Wizard was started out of love for dogs and a burning desire for a better and more fulfilling life. After graduating from Wake Forest, where she was a point guard on the women’s basketball team, Gretchen Hollifield found herself working a traditional office job 50+ hours a week stuck behind a desk, trapped inside all day, and with very little excitement and joy in her work life. She dreaded going to work and finally reached her breaking point and escaped. Her real passion was being around dogs. So in 1997, with courage and faith, Gretchen became a certified dog trainer. But sadly, the expensive certification company, like most, only gave her technical training and didn’t properly prepare her to market, operate, and grow a successful and substantial business. She struggled until she developed her own proprietary marketing, operating and dog training systems under her The Dog Wizard brand in 2005. Her perfected business model was a success and her income soared as she added more dog trainers to her business. Gretchen then wanted to offer this superior business model and satisfying lifestyle to other dog lovers wanting their own business and freedom. In the summer of 2013, she launched The Dog Wizard as a franchise system. Learn more at TheDogWizardFranchise.com.
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