‘Dogs just need a chance:’ Trainer helps shelter dogs get a chance at finding a loving home

Tracy Cooksey has rehomed more than 500 unwanted animals

ORLANDO, Fla. – Local animal shelters are full, but this week’s Getting Results Award winner is helping many unwanted pets get a second chance at finding a loving home.

Tracy Cooksey is using her skills as a dog trainer to correct behavioral problems and in some cases teach shelter dogs valuable skills.

Over the years she’s found homes for over 500 shelter dogs.

Tracy Cooksey, Owner/Lead Trainer for Diversity K9. (WKMG-TV)

Cooksey is the owner and lead trainer at Diversity K9 Services. The dog training and boarding center offers behavior modification, obedience, service and odor detection training.

But it’s what she’s done to help unwanted pets find new homes that earned her this week’s Getting Results Award.

“Right now shelters are completely full. All the rescues are completely full,” Cooksey said. “Right now if you were to take a dog to the shelter they would more than likely deny you. There’s just a lack of space,”

Cooksey’s motivation is to keep those dogs from being euthanized.

“I’m really big into rescue,” Cooksey said. “We do our best to help any rescue dog that we can. We pull dogs from shelters and we help them out. Most of the dogs we see have some sort of behavioral issue that needs a bit of modification. Then we can make them adoptable.”

Cooksey said she’s probably trained and found homes for 500 shelter dogs since she opened her business in 2017.

Cooksey has been an animal lover all her life. She spent years as a trainer for Sea World’s Pets Ahoy show.

“Yeah, I’m super passionate about animals,” Cooksey said. “My first job, I used to walk to a veterinary clinic and I was a kennel technician. I’d walk to work when I was 15.”

Cooksey was nominated for the News6 Getting Results Award by Matt Fitzgibbon.

“I just think that your viewers should know what Tracy and her team do. They’re helping dogs and people and it’s having an incredible impact on our community,” Fitzgibbon said. “The tagline of your award is getting results and they’re getting results here.”

When asked about her success stories, Cooksey named a number off the top of her head.

“There’s Fritz. His owners couldn’t keep up with his intense energy so they decided not to keep him. Ralph is a chihuahua that no rescue would take because of his bite history. Doby was tied up That was a sad story. She’s the best dog ever. We found them all fantastic homes,” she said.

UCF Ofc. Jerad Engel with K-9 Blue. (WKMG-TV)

Another success story is Blue, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador. Blue was donated to the UCF Police Department by Teufel Hunden Kennels. Cooksey trained Blue to search for explosives.

“She’s a great dog with phenomenal drive. She just wants to work,” Cooksey said.

Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) recently announced they are caring for more than 200 dogs and are at capacity. OCAS is asking the community to help adopt and have even waived adoption fees for animals that have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. They designated them “ready to go.”

“Shelters across the country are struggling with capacity issues as the number of dogs leaving with adopters, foster parents, rescue groups and their owners aren’t keeping pace with the number coming in,” said OCAS manager Diane Summers in a news release.

For those who have found a stray dog, the shelter is asking finders to first try to locate the owner.

“In reviewing our data, we discovered the majority of lost pets were within one mile of home,” said Summers. “Taking the time to post flyers, post on social media, have the pet scanned for a microchip, can make all the difference in getting that pet back home, and quickly.”

“I’m just really passionate about dogs and I think dogs just need a chance,” Cooksey said. “I think there’s a huge need for people to just help these dogs so they stop being euthanized.”

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About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.