We had the good fortune of connecting with Lesley Brog and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lesley, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe in order to be successful at something, you must believe in yourself and be passionate about what you are trying to achieve. In my case and in the case of Wags and Walks, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to sit back and let dogs suffer due to overcrowding in the shelter. I knew that if I could showcase dogs away from the bars in their kennels, capture images of them around people and families, that barriers and stereotypes could be broken about what shelter dogs truly are. When I started Wags and Walks (and to this day), I never let anyone tell me that something couldn’t be done including working with bigger dogs and helping to change the perception of the larger breed dogs. I started saving dogs, one at a time and enlisted the help of any volunteer willing to join the mission. The passion in me and the people I surrounded myself with built a community of dog lovers that are committed to creating an uplifting inspiring environment, one that shelter dogs can be highlighted in. It has amazed me the transformation of a dog from when they are behind shelter bars, matted, barking, etc to being saved by Wags and Walks with a nice haircut, and comfortable on their cozy beds. It changes the story that people tell themselves and helps them imagine that dog in their home, with their family, snuggled in their bed. To date, Wags and Walks has saved and placed over 5500 dogs from high kill shelters and placed them in loving homes, opened up our first adoption center on the west side of LA and started a branch in Nashville, TN. This success I owe to believing I could do it, not letting anyone/anything get in my way of my passion and creating a positive, inspiring imagery to create change.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Nearly 10 years ago, I was a “normal” dog loving person like other people. I was a pharmaceutical sales rep with two young girls (and a baby on the way) and my best friend, Dunkin. When I adopted Dunkin, to me he was an adorable pup with a pink speckled nose and puppy breath you could bottle up. To others, he was deemed a dangerous pit bull. Loving Dunkin made me a huge pit bull advocate and inspired me to share the message that every dog (just like people) should not be judged by the way they look. I will never forget my first shelter experience, walking up and down the rows to find 100’s of dogs in concrete kennels behind bars.I soon discovered that most of these dogs ended up here due to no fault of their own and were at risk to be euthanized for space. It was at that moment that the course of my life would forever be changed. I started the very next day by saving Hooch hours before he was going to be euthanized. My garage became a “no kill” shelter and one by one I saved a life. I found wonderful humans who adopted and donated resources for medical care and basic necessities. Nine and a half years later, I’m happy to share that over 5,500 dogs from high kill shelters are now safe in homes. I owe that success to believing I could accomplish anything I cared about. I surrounded myself with likeminded, dedicated dog lovers who who were always cheerleaders for the dogs who were stuck in shelters unfairly and belonged in homes. Wags and Walks is unique because we have built a community that is welcoming to all different types (sizes, ages, breeds) of dogs and are equally as welcoming to all people. We love to save amazing dogs, highlight them in their best light (away from kennel bars) and around people and families. We also love to continue building our humane education program in order to teach children at a young age about compassion to both animals and people. My love for Dunkin made it obvious that I would continue to help dogs, but what I could have never anticipated is what an incredible impact Wags and Walks would have on people, our community and myself.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would set an itinerary that included a visit to Malibu beach as well as the town. Hopefully, we would see whales and the water would be calm and warm for swimming. We would have a sunset dinner at Tony Tavernas and try not to eat all their hummus. Another day would be dedicated to hiking, probably in Westridge by Manderville Canyon. Before we set out on our hike we would have to grab breakfast at Jon O’Groats and have biscuits! Strollng down Melrose Ave is always fun and I would suggest a massage at The Now and lunch at Joans on Third. Lastly, we would head down to the venice boardwalk and ride bikes, shop on Abbott Kinney, enjoy some wine for happy hour and have dinner at Gjelina’s.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My success is made possible because of the volunteers and supporters who believed in me from the beginning. Most of them are still a part of Wags and Walks despite the growth in size and I will never take for granted how much they inspired me and where there to help keep going no matter how challenging times would get. To date, my staff is included in recognizing why Wags and Walks is so successful. It amazes me daily how dedicated they are to the dogs wellbeing, lifting each other up and to the overall mission of saving dogs. The working environment at Wags and Walks is an uplifting, upbeat, supportive place and for that I am grateful.
Facebook: Wags and Walks