Unsung Hero: Streetsboro woman rehabilitates hostile canines

Photo by Matt Hafley.

Photo by Matt Hafley.

Matt Hafley

Mr. Mack is a two-year-old Rottweiler. He was en-route to be euthanized on Feb. 26 after a biting incident involving a child. While on the way, the owners had one last glimpse of hope when they dropped Mr. Mack off with Hollie Toner, the owner of Paws N Claws Academy in Streetsboro.

Toner would later find out that Mr. Mack had been involved in 12 previous biting incidents involving humans in the past. The Rottweiler was extremely sensitive to humans, especially males. When Mr. Mack was brought to Paws N Claws, Toner couldn’t even so much as look at him without causing the dog to respond negatively.

Toner became serious about canine training about five years ago after a close friend and colleague named Dr. James Akenhead told her to quit her day job as an editorial writer and start training canines. She quit her editorial job that same day and never looked back.

She immediately sought out her Certification for Professional Dog Trainers, which requires a minimum of 300 hours of experience working with canines and a recommendation by a veterinarian, which she obtained easily from Akenhead.

Toner became a promoter for a newer, scientifically based way of dog training, which uses safe, humane and effective methods for training canines. She’s also the co-founder and a member of the Northeast Ohio Positive Dogs Trainers, a group that promotes the psychologically based method of training.

Working with Mr. Mack daily in this style of training has produced noticeable results over the last eight weeks. He is now able to be in the presence of other people on a specialized leash. Toner will continue to work with Mr. Mack for another six to eight weeks. “If it has a pulse, it can be trained” is Toner’s personal motto.

Contact Matt Hafley at [email protected]