Meet the Founders
Julie Madden – I’ve loved and owned multiple dogs most of my adult life, from Yorkshire Terriers to German Shepherds and a Labrador mix. Two of them were rescues, and I was always struck by how grateful they were for little things that our other dogs took for granted.
My interest in dogs always had to fit around my day job, though. I spent 32 years with the federal government, starting in the U.S. Army, then as a civilian employee working for Department of Energy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As I got closer to retirement, I began thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had fallen in love with a dog training activity called K9 Nose Work® that I started in 2013 with my reactive German Shepherd Mocha. It was transformational in how it helped Mocha by giving her a job, burning energy and building trust between us. I decided to complete the requirements to become a certified nose work instructor (CNWI™).
I became an associate instructor in 2016 and a full CNWI™ in 2017. I retired from CDC in December 2016 and started teaching nose work classes and volunteering at a local shelter. I quickly learned that the shelters do the best they can, but there just isn’t much time or space to conduct enrichment activities to help the dogs.
In the summer of 2017 while looking for a larger space for my nose work training classes, Tom and I stumbled onto the former United Cerebral Palsy building in Anniston. It was much bigger than what I needed. But as we walked through it, we were struck at just how perfect the facility was to bring in shelter dogs and provide enrichment activities. We came to the decision that this was meant to be. If we were serious about wanting to help shelter dogs, and if we were willing to commit our own resources and work very hard, we could help make a difference. We started this journey and hope you will join us in helping shelter dogs!
(seen with Lucy, adopted September 2018)
Tom Madden – I always wanted a dog when I was a child but my father refused to get one. As I learned years later, it was because he had a dog when he was young and the dog ran out into the road and was killed by a car. The pain he went through was something he didn’t want his own children to experience. It’s ironic, because I have owned dogs almost my whole adult life, and have experienced time and again the sadness and pain of losing them. But I feel that the pain is not an unreasonable price to pay for the joy, laughter and silliness they bring to us their entire lifetime.
I started my career in the U.S. Army at the ripe age of 19. I earned my second lieutenant bars through Officer Candidate School, my jump wings through Airborne School, and my flight wings through Flight School. I spent 10 years in the Army.
I received both my bachelor’s and master’s degree from Jacksonville State University. I’m proud of my accomplishments from a 37 year federal government career, including my final assignment as the Chief Information Security Officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once we were retired, we began looking for ways to give back to the community and we thought that working with shelter dogs was a great match, given how much we both love dogs and how much we have learned over the years in raising multiple, sometimes problematic pets. We volunteered at a local shelter and we realized something big was needed to help them be able to provide socialization, basic obedience, and other enrichment activities.
So we decided we have one more big adventure left in us, and we established the Encore Enrichment Center for Shelter Dogs. I hope you will join us to share your passion and your skills at the Center. We need your help to make it work!
(seen with Sophi, adopted June 2018)
Meet the Crew
Charley Jones – My passion for animals began early in life, thanks to Tippy, the cat I had when I was a little girl. I’ve loved animals ever since. In my adult career, I’ve held positions in the animal field for over 16 years. My journey first started at the Pell City Animal Shelter (ASPCI) in 2003. I was the kennel manager for 12 years.
I realized my career choice was not going to be easy. There just aren’t enough adopters and homes open for each animal. Unfortunately, euthanasia was the main solution for overpopulation during that time. But over the years things took a turn for the better, with a spay/neuter program and partnership with PetSmart to promote more adoptions. We also started coordinating with rescue groups and even more lives were saved.
However, in 2015 ASPCI did not renew their contract with the city. So I moved on to Cheaha Regional Humane Society. I worked there for almost two years as the director. We had some successes, especially in the areas of rescue animal transport and ensuring spay/neutering of adopted pets. But we also faced overcrowding and resource constraints that kept us from being able to place more animals into good homes.
Now I apply my shelter dog training experience as director of Encore Enrichment Center for Shelter Dogs. I love bringing shelter dogs to Encore to give them some time in a clean, quiet, FUN facility and a break from the stressful kennel environment! I know it improves their quality of life and increases their chances for adoption.
(seen with Harley, adopted August 2019)
Whitney Martin – My mother’s job choice brought out my compassion for animals. (Whitney is Charley Jone’s daughter.) She introduced me into the shelter environment when I was four years old. I started actively volunteering when I turned seven. Between cleaning cages and dishes, socializing animals that are beyond scared of humans, assisting in the rescue of puppy mills, and promoting adoptions, my love for animals grew and grew.
Growing up, I always wanted to become a veterinarian. In both the vet and shelter environments, the people make a huge impact. The difference is the shelter animals do not have a permanent home or family. Some never even experience the touch of a loving hand. I came to the conclusion instead of working in a vets office, I would rather be involved with the shelter animals.
I’m attending Jefferson State Community College. After completing my first year of basics, I’ve chose biology as my major. I’m not sure where my career will take me but I plan to work with shelter animals during my spare time. The Encore Enrichment Center gives me that opportunity.
(seen with Athena, adopted December 17, 2018)
What Encore is About
We are a retired couple who live in Jacksonville, Alabama and have owned many dogs over the years. In 2017, we volunteered at a local animal shelter for six months and learned so much about the challenges shelter organizations face every day. Our time spent volunteering helped us to understand just how hard it is for shelters to find the time and space needed for enrichment activities that help dogs get adopted. We wanted to do something to help.
In September 2017 we purchased the former United Cerebral Palsy building at 301 EA Darden Drive in Anniston and completed needed renovations to ensure it is in good condition. The building is 8000 square feet and has large inside classrooms and a six-foot fenced outside playground area. We established the Encore Enrichment Center for Shelter Dogs as a 501c(3) charitable organization, and its activities are held at this facility.
We partner with three animal shelter organizations in Calhoun County on a rotating basis:
- The Animal Shelter – Calhoun County Humane Society
- League for Animal Welfare
- Rockin P Rescue
- We work with the same group of 4-6 dogs for two weeks, to prepare them for adoption or rescue. We drive to the shelter in the morning, pick up the designated dogs, bring them to the Center and spend the day working with them. We return them each afternoon.
Our activities are tailored based on each dog’s needs and temperament and can include:
- Basic obedience (sit, don’t pull on the leash, don’t jump on the human)
- Supervised play time outside (with multiple dogs for those that get along, individually for reactive dogs)
- Getting used to having a human near them, talking to them, touching them
- K9 Nose Work®
- Playing with enrichment toys alone or with a human
- Bathing or nail clipping
- We established a volunteer cadre, provide orientations, and lean heavily on our volunteers to help with different activities. We have been also been fortunate to get support from business groups in Anniston and Oxford to provide employees for specific projects on a volunteer basis, like re-painting our classrooms and hallways!
We take photos and short videos of the dogs throughout the week and post those to social media and on our website. This helps the shelters whose dogs we are hosting, to use them to promote the dogs in their adoption marketing.
We provide crates and a van for the dogs’ transport, and we have crates in the building so the dogs can get some down time and snacks in between activities.
You have our commitment that we train using humane and positive reinforcement methods. We follow a dog training curriculum developed by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers specifically for shelter dogs. Shelter staff and the public are welcome to stop by and observe us in action. We also welcome your suggestions and input on how to make our services better. This is an evolving journey and we hope you join us in making a difference in the lives of shelter dogs!
Thomas P. Madden, M.P.A. Julie A. Madden, M.A., CNWI™