Hero – Giving Dogs Another Chance

Ashley ShelburneAdvocate helps trains and rehabilitates dogs with behavioral issues

By Paula Sparrow

Her name is Ashley Shelburne, but she could just as easily go by Wonder Woman.

As the owner of Shelburne Pet Center and the rescue organization Tyson’s Chance in Shelbyville, Kentucky, she does it all: boarding, training, rehabilitation, grooming, daycare, socializing, and rescue.

At the heart of everything Shelburne does is her passion to provide the best opportunities for animals, including training dogs, promoting responsible pet parenting, and rescuing and rehabilitating dogs with behavioral and medical issues.

The Shelburne Pet Center opened in 2010. Here, dogs can receive training or just spend the day playing with other furry friends—Shelburne says the goal is to send dogs home tired and happy. “This is a place for everything for your dog under one roof,” Shelburne says. “This is where dogs get the help they need, and where dogs can be dogs—something not all boarding facilities offer.”

Helping dogs overcome behavioral problems has presented Shelburne with some challenges. “I’ve learned that most of the time I have to train the [caregiver], not the dog,” she says with a grin. “People forget these are dogs, not people, and they don’t know how to communicate with them. Guardians need to learn how to set boundaries with their dogs correctly, to give them the proper amount of exercise, and to learn to see the world through a dog’s eyes.”

Shelburne admits she used to be that person herself, but when she found herself with a dog who had behavioral issues, she started researching how to properly train him. When she was successful, she decided to spread the word on good behavioral training techniques.

“I like to think I can change one dog, one person, at a time, and promote responsible [pet parenting]. By getting people more involved, we can keep more dogs from being left at shelters because of behavioral problems.”

Her passion for bringing out the best in pets led her to start rescuing and rehabilitating dogs. One of her first rescues, a Pit Bull named Tyson, was what many would call “behaviorally challenged.” Shelburne fell in love with him—seeing a dog that had potential—and decided he deserved a chance. “You could tell Tyson had been given no guidelines, [and] had been allowed to be a bully. He had no manners. He badly needed socialization and training.”

And that’s how Tyson’s Chance began. She was indeed able to rehabilitate Tyson, and he became the mascot for her rescue organization. Tyson’s Chance has since rehabilitated and re-socialized many dogs who otherwise might have been put down.

“Tyson’s Chance is kind of the land of misfits,” Shelburne says. “There’s no challenge I won’t try to fix. Too many times we set dogs up for failure by not learning to communicate; so I get dogs who bite, are aggressive, or have behavioral issues. People don’t always like what I have to say about their relationship with their dog, but I do what works. And if I can’t make the dog perfect, I can at least make the dog manageable.”

While the Shelburne Pet Center is a business with the goal of making dogs happy, rescue is Shelburne’s passion.

“I enjoy it all—it’s all for the greater good of the animals. It’s a lifestyle, and though it’s never done, it’s a way of life I love.”

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