Caribbean Canine Academy, a specialized dog training school, makes it their priority to train service dogs and have educated more than 400 students to combat the island’s dog abandonment crisis at a cheaper price than what it could cost in the US mainland.
“I’ve always been passionate about dogs. And as it is known, there is a very big problem of dog abandonment in Puerto Rico. What I wanted to do was try to attack the problem of dog abandonment from another point of view that didn’t worsen the existing problem, but with prevention,” said Cheryl Deloach, owner of the Caribbean Canine Academy.
While CCA asks for a fee of $15,000 to train service dogs, these procedures normally cost $40,000 to $60,000 because of the time they take, which is normally about 18 months. This fee they require covers the cost of everything they might need, such as: the trainers; dog food; materials; vet visits, among other expenses.
In special cases of people that cannot pay the fee, the academy helps by dropping the rate, as well as helping with fundraising.
To help sustain this organization, CCA offers dog training, as well education for people. For three weeks of basic dog training, the cost is $695, and this also varies on other types of training, such as obedience, which is very sought-after on the island.
“I started by making group home visits and with that I grew and learned, while I was also locking down customers. I also believe that the biggest investment for this business has been the time I put into it,” Deloach said.
These days, their services also include training therapy dogs. The trained canines will eventually go visit hospitals, children’s homes, elderly homes, or workspaces. Their goal is to help lower stress levels as well as make people feel better by interacting with the dog.
“I must say that, to anyone who is thinking of opening their own business, I would advise them to dream, but dream big and have a clear goal of what they want to do. Look to start a business in something that you’re passionate about and that you put a lot of effort into,” Deloach said.