Elmira/Corning Regional Airport


Capone’s Second Chance

Written By: Candice Cole
Capone’s Second Chance

      He's described as a big goof ball who just wanted to love people. Capone is a rambunctious, warm, fun loving dog and you would've never known that just a few months ago, on August 2, 2013, he was found wandering on a rural country road, bleeding with no where to go.
      Thurston Dog Control Officer, Randy Akins said when he saw Capone, "He was a little thin, he had probably been running for a few days. He did have a pretty good wound on him, I believe it was on his forehead."
      The wound on Capone's forehead is believed to be a gun shot wound. It's highly suspected that someone, possibly his previous owner, tried to kill him.
     When Amie Burnett of Tanner's Paws Animal Shelter in Corning saw Capone's wound, she said, "It looked as though a bullet had grazed his skull and left a wound that was partially healed over."
     Capone had been picked up from a driver in the area, who called Officer Akins to come pick the dog up. He then took Capone to the animal shelter in Rathbone, where he would get his wound cleaned and await his fate.
      Officer Akins looks back on the time, saying, "It looked as though a bullet had grazed his skull and left a wound that was partially healed over."
     He says that says it's the hardest part of his job as a Dog control Officer, but luckily for Capone, Officer Akins took the two-year-old pup to Tanner's Paws instead of putting him down. Accoring to Amie Burnett, there is no time limit there. She says, "We are a no kill shelter and we don't euthanize."
      Capone would stay in the care of Tanner's Paws for seven months, until December 2013. That's right around the time Angie Hoaglin, a service dog trainer for Pathways to Peace was in need of a new dog. She was referred to the shelter by a colleague and the rest was history.
     Angie says, "He [Capone] was one of the first dogs they showed me. They said he was really special, and he sure is."
     Pathways to Peace specializes in matching up dogs with disabled vets. Angie says that when she met Capone, she knew had found the perfect match for her client. She said, "He sat 15 times in the first 30 seconds that I met him, jumping on me. That's highly trainable, you don't often see a dog so eager to follow commands after you first meet them."
     Capone, who was later re-named Gunner, is being trained for his handler Timothy who served overseas in Korea and during the Iraq war for three-and-a-half years.
     Timothy, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, says that 'Gunner' helps him out emotionally and keeps him calm. Angie Hoaglin says, "Gunner's main purpose is anxiety reduction and to keep his handler calm and from having to do to much work on his own."
     He also helps to keep a safe perimeter between Tim and other people and can help Tim back on his feet should he fall or become unconscious.
      Angie also said she chose the name Gunner because, "A gunner is someone that watches out for and protects everyone in the unit. They've got the watchtower position, and that's kind of what he does. He's there to watch out for his handler and make sure everything's calm and ok." It will take up to a year before Tim and Gunner are a full team.
      Angie Hoaglin's husband Daniel was diagnosed with PTSD 14 years ago, after serving in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq. He says his service dog Jake helps to keep him on an even keel.
      Retired Veteran, Daniel Hoaglin says, "Every time I start to get ramped up, he brings me back down. And it allows me to get a longer fuse when I'm dealing with the public, or dealing with family, or dealing with friends. And that's very important for a lot of the combat guys coming back, their fuses can be somewhat short."
     From running for his life to living a life with purpose, Capone-now Gunner, has certainly come a long way. It's a second chance at life for him and one of our beloved heroes.
     Amie Burnett of Tanner's Paws says, " It's amazing to see these dogs come on from a situation like that and then find, like I said, a purpose. It really make us happy."
      Dog Control Officer, Randy Akins agrees, saying, "I think that's just awesome and that's what makes my job worth while, seeing something like that happen and knowing that a lot of good is going to come out of this dog."    
      For more information about Pathways To Peace, you can visit them on Facebook by visiting https://www.facebook.com/pathwaystopeaceservicedogtraining . And, for more information about Tanner's Paws Animal Rescue & Shelter, visit http://www.tannerspaws.org/ .