PERSONAL JOURNEY: Nonprofit is advocate for responsible pet ownership

Founder of Pets First Nationwide wants to be voice for animals.

Animals have no voices that we can understand. And with an estimated 63 million households in the US owning dogs, these animals, in particular, need advocates.

But many people decide on animal ownership without doing research. They choose a dog breed, for example, based upon popularity or appearance. Once they bring a new pup home, they realize that it is not always easy.

Adam Pinon of Franklin is on a mission to change the way people think about dog ownership.

“I relocated here in 2015 from West Texas,” Pinon said. “But I’ve always wanted to do something to give back to the community.”

Pinon’s non-profit organization, Pets First Nationwide, was founded in Lubbock, Texas the year before he moved to Ohio. He was hoping to bring people and dogs together and educate everyone about dog ownership.

“The dogs I’ve had for years are technically called wolfdogs,” Pinon said. “I was always getting messages and questions about them, so this was the reason I started the organization.”

The wolfdog breed is technically a combination of several northern breeds and wolves. They can be controversial because while they can be good companion animals, they can also be troublesome if not trained properly.

“Our organization is all about education before buying an animal of any kind,” Pinon said. “If people actually know what they are buying, they may decide not to buy, and it would start to reduce breeding and ultimately reduce the number of animals going to rescues.”

Pinon says that many animals being sold online, in particular, are being misrepresented. This includes wolfdogs but can also include more exotic animals like tiger and bear cubs.

“You can’t just buy a bear cub online and bring it home without first knowing how to take care of it,” Pinon said. “Most people have no idea what goes on in the mind of a bear.”

That’s an extreme example as most people would likely not be bringing a wild animal into their homes. However wolfdogs sometimes have a higher percentage of wolf and Pinon said people need to get the facts about what they are getting and bringing home.

“What got me into the breed was ignorance,” Pinon said. “I was in my 20′s, had a great job and could go anywhere and I wanted a challenge.”

Pinon was thinking a pit bull or Rottweiler would give him that challenge, but he spotted an ad for wolfdog puppies and immediately thought it would be cool to have one.

“I’m just like anyone else,” Pinon said. “When I got my first wolfdog, I didn’t know much about them.”

All dog breeds actually descended from wolves and are genetically the same species. Because of this, a dog and a wolf can mate and produce offspring that will have characteristics of both the wolf and the breed of dog in varying proportions. Most wolfdogs are a combination of Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute or German shepherd.

“Many people get them as a status symbol,” Pinon said. “Money is also a driving factor as is ego.”

After getting several wolfdogs, Pinon said he realized that they weren’t suitable for his lifestyle. But he knew that he couldn’t just toss the dogs away.

“People buy animals and if they don’t work out for them, they end up rehoming them,” Pinon said.

And that’s what he and his organization are hoping to prevent. He wants to teach people that when you by a puppy or any animal, you are making a commitment to raising that animal until it passes away.

The mission of Pets First Nationwide is to be a voice for those that have no voices and can’t be heard.

“There are too many people that mistreat animals,” Pinon said. “If we don’t try to help and do something to change this, then we aren’t being humane.”

Part of what Pinon and his organization does it take wolfdogs out in public and allow people to socialize with them. Many of his animals look the part of 100% wolf so it can be unsettling.

“We are hosting events at our property and inviting people to come out and ask questions and interact with our animals,” Pinon said.

Pinon said that although he has wolfdogs, he doesn’t want people to think he is promoting the breed through Pets First Nationwide. His goal is to work closely with humane societies and animal rescues and put an end to puppy mills and over breeding of all animals.

“I want the community to understand that this is a movement,” Pinon said. “Everybody should be working together for the same cause. Animals don’t choose their fate, so we encourage everyone to look out for mistreated animals and report it. We are trying to better the lives of animals of all kinds.”

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