Canine angels is a nonprofit 501c3 organization started by Rick Kaplan because of his love for dogs and his country.
Rick always loved dogs and trained them since he was a child. He has a gift for training and won ribbons for obedience, handling, best in show, and agility.
After a successful career in the diamond and jewelry business in NYC, 8 years ago he retired and moved to Myrtle Beach. Rick lived the retired life of golf but got bored and wanted to do something valuable. Finding a need, he began Canine Angels in 2011 combining his love for training dogs and love for the military people who give their service for us.
GSH: “Why do you donate the dogs to military service people?”
RK: “I am not a veteran and enjoyed the life that America gave me. I have a good life and want to pay it forward to people are willing to put on a uniform on and fight for our freedoms.”
GSH: “Where do you get your dogs?”
RK: “I go to shelters within a 50 mile radius from Pawleys Island to Wilmington. I evaluate dogs, help the volunteers with obedience training, leash training, etc. I also find and am given strays as well as receive dogs from families who cannot or do not want to train their dogs. I am a firm believer that you give a dog manners, they will get adopted. I also believe that dogs need a job and are willing to work.
GSH: “Training these dogs cost money. Do you charge for your services?”
RK: “I identify which dogs would make great service dogs for vets and get them into the proper homes. But no, I do not charge for my services to veterans, it is my way of giving back.”
“The service dogs go to disabled veterans for free but the ones that do not make it into Canine Angels get adopted by private families for a donation to assist us in getting the free ones to veterans.”
GSH: “How long and what procedures do you use to train the dogs?”
RK: “20 hours a day I spend training always correcting and showing correct behavior, using food as a reward, a stern tone of voice and affection. We want dogs that are a year or older, not in the puppy stage. We use basic boot camp, work in shelters and private homes. After training, many of the dogs can be adopted. Some have something special to give and these are the Canine Angels. We placed one yesterday and now currently have 9. We train them to carry, bring items to people with disabilities, open and close drawers and lights (jump up and hit switch), open doors with special lanyard, which I train them to look for.”
GSH: “What is the mission of the charity?”
RK: “There are two missions:
1. Rescue dogs and give them a second chance at life
2. Give them to qualified veterans to aid in their quality of life”
GSH: “What are the steps someone has to go through to obtain a dog?”
RK: “You have to have either a physical disability, such as lose of balance, hearing, back problems, be in a wheelchair, and have missing limbs, etc. and/or psychological disabilities such as post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.”
“To qualify there is a formal application procedure. Canine Angels need to know who you are. The first allegiance is to the dog; the time and money put into dog is protected. As of now, there are 20 dogs that I have trained and given all to veterans.”
GSH: “Do you have any special stories?”
RK: “River was untrainable. I heard about the dog and asked for some time with him. I purchased him for $1 from the owner who had grandchildren and was ready to put him down. Within 2 or three days, River was well trained. “
“I went to a veterinarian’s office last year to pick up documents and there was a man talking about euthanizing his dog. I thought the dog looked fine and wondered what is wrong with dog. I asked the owner and he said, not that much, he is six, but I am dying. He is too aggressive and I don’t want to leave it for someone to get hurt. I asked if I can work with him. When I took him home, he was aggressive to my dogs. I worked with Barney for 2 months and completely rehabilitated him. We had our share of skirmishes but fixed it.”
“One day I was soliciting for donations at store. A woman walked up to me and said my husband is a 92 year old disabled vet. Today, this man and Barney are best friends. Barney goes with him while he is on a scooter.”
Canine Angels is a tax deductible nonprofit and can be found at www.canine-angels.net. Every dollar you donate goes directly to train and feed the dogs. Rick can be seen soliciting funds by stores that allow him like Walmart. We have also seen Rick with his dogs at fundraisers put on by both locations of Harley Davidson.