As Cape Coral awaits the completion of its first-ever large-scale animal shelter, a smaller rescue operation has been flying under the radar in the city for a couple of years.
Bo Nose Rescue is a not-for-profit organization that saves unwanted dogs, especially high-drive ones, by rehabilitating and training them, then adopting the dogs out to homes. Founder Crystal McClaran is a behavioral specialist who owns and operates Bo Nose K9 Training and Daycare in the same facility.
"Since I'm a trainer, I work with problematic, high-drive working-type dogs," she said.
"I get contacted a lot from different shelters about dogs that are on death row," McClaran added, noting that in some cases the issue is simply overcrowding. "A lot of times, we're the last resort for the dogs."
Founded four years ago, the organization rescued approximately 125 dogs in 2016.
She explained that many of the dogs go to families, while others receive more extensive training to become law enforcement or agency canines, dogs used for therapy or even competitive athletes.
"Last year, we had 12 emotional support dogs go out," McClaran said. "We had five that went to search-and-rescue, four that went into police departments for detection work and nine that went into sporting homes, like for dock diving or agility."
The rescue can house a maximum of 15 dogs at a time.
"We average about three or four adoptions a week," she said.
Training is case-by-case and can last from two weeks, up to one to three months.
"If they're just a happy-go-lucky puppy, they just get everyday life skills," McClaran said, adding that adopters are given discounts for her training services. "We do encourage them to continue training."
She first began training dogs in 2002 at her first rescue in South Carolina.
"I was the first pit bull rescue in South Carolina," McClaran said.
Originally from the Cape, she moved back to Florida in 2010 and opened Bo Nose K9 Training and Daycare. Her training services range from social skills and behavior modification, to protection.
The business is named after one of her rescues from South Carolina, Bo.
"He is now a seven-time dock diving world champion," McClaran said, adding that she and Bo have been featured on the Discovery and Lifetime channels. "He's still No. 1 in the world."
On Feb. 24, Bo Nose Rescue will host the 2nd Annual Bow Wow Bash from 6 to 11 p.m. at the La Venezia Ballroom. Proceeds from the fundraiser will help cover the non-profit's costs and more.
"It pays for pull fees to get the dogs from the shelters, transportation fees - dog food, heartworm and flea preventatives, any maintenance," she said. "Anything and everything that supports our rescue."
McClaran is also looking into buying a building to house her business and the non-profit.
Last year, the event raised about $8,000.
"This year, we're hoping to raise around $10,000," she said.
An estimated 130 people attended last year.
"This year, we're hoping to beat that number," McClaran said.
The event will have a country-theme and guests are welcome to dress up. Entertainment will be provided by an acoustic band and a deejay. There will also be silent auction, raffles and such.
"We have so many amazing donated items," she said.
Some prizes include tickets to Disney, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Sun Splash Family Waterpark, gift baskets from the Wicked Dolphin and Red Sox, and a weekend beach getaway.
"We probably have, just as door prizes, over 100 restaurant gift cards," McClaran said.
There will be a 50/50 drawing, as well as raffles for gift baskets.
"We also are doing a wine cork pull," she said.
For even more fun, a photo booth and Tarot card reader will be on site.
"That was a big hit last year," McClaran said of the Tarot.
Tickets are $65 each or $125 per couple; tables of 10 are available for $500. The prices includes admission, an open bar, appetizers donated by the Lobster Lady Seafood, dinner and dessert.
"The bar is a full bar, not just beer and wine," she said.
"There's going to be vegetarian items, as well," McClaran added.
Attendees will also receive an event shirt.
The tentative deadline to purchase tickets is Wednesday.
For tickets, contact Celia Rubin at 239-823-2193. Those interested in adopting a dog can visit online at bonoserescue.com.
Links to the canines available for adoption can be found on the website, as well as an adoption application.
Adoption fees range from $100 to $300, depending on the training put into the dog.
"We're more personal than your everyday shelter," she said.
"We thrive on making that right match for somebody," McClaran added.
Bo Nose Rescue, along with Bo Nose K9 Training and Daycare, is at 4832 Candia St.
The La Venezia Ballroom is at 4646 S.E. 10th Place.