When Carol Skaziak was starting Throw Away Dogs, a nonprofit that trains strays into K-9s, she didn’t imagine the group getting national attention.
But all that will change Friday, when the latest episode of Cesar Milan’s new show "Dog Nation" airs, featuring his visit to Philly and work with Throw Away Dogs.
“I never thought it would take this route,” Skaziak said. “I didn’t expect it. We didn’t reach out to him, he reached out to us.”
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"Dog Nation" is the latest TV show from Cesar, known worldwide as “the Dog Whisperer,” and focuses on communities built around dogs.
The new episode, airing on Nat Geo TV, prominently features his work helping Throw Away Dogs train a difficult K-9 candidate, Sting, during Cesar’s visit to the city of brotherly love last September.
“He was exactly the way you see him on TV,” Skaziak said of working with the Dog Whisperer in person, whom she described as a “mentor,” and his son Andre, who also trains dogs.
“There’s no camera tricks,” she said. “When you see him fix a dog immediately, he really does fix a dog immediately. It’s done right then and there.”
Skaziak, the wife of a Philly police officer, and Throw Away Dogs cofounder Jason Walters, a SEPTA K-9 cop, started the organization in 2014 to help stray dogs with untapped potential.
So far, the group has trained 17 stray dogs to become K-9s and donated them to police departments around the country. Those dogs are mostly German Shepherds and include some Belgian Malinois.
Graduates include K-9 Sonji, a drug detection dog who works for the Logan County Sheriff's Office in Paris, Arkansas, and K-9 Laika, who now does bomb sweeps at the 9/11 Memorial and Statue of Liberty for the U.S. Parks Police.
Throw Away Dogs is currently training two dogs, said Skaziak while driving to pick up a new German Shepherd that was being surrendered to her by a family. Many dog-lovers support the concept of dogs being trained to serve the public.
“We’re saving a dog, then we’re saving the department money, but what’s happening after that is we’re making a difference in the communities,” Skaziak said. “This is huge. This is completely re-purposing an animal, with a great outcome.”
Having quit her job at the pet hotel to focus full-time on Throw Away Dogs, she said working with Cesar was a milestone in the group’s development.
“It’s a learning process, but the passion and drive that I have growing inside of me is indescribable,” she said. “We have been to hell and back, and I still want to do this.”
Throw Away Dogs will be featured on Dog Nation's newest when it airs on Nat Geo TV at 9 p.m., April 14.