Stanbridge College Occupational Therapy Assistant student and founder of Outlaw Dogs, Kaycee Concepcion speaks for those who cannot. As she sits for our interview, her dog Smuckers, once a foster dog and now a Certified Therapy Dog, sits patiently by her side as a testament to her work and her passion for the last 10 years.
“I started volunteering after I went to the shelter to get a dog,” stated Kaycee. “I was about to buy a dog from a pet store not knowing where these puppies come from. My friends told me not to buy a dog but to adopt one instead. From that day on I’ve always made people aware that adopting a dog from your local shelter or rescue group is the way to go.”
Since her experience at the pet store, Kaycee has volunteered her time helping homeless, neglected and abused dogs at animal shelters including the Orange County Animal Care Center and Irvine Animal Care Center. Since 2009, she has helped rescue and find new families for nearly 100 dogs that were malnourished and in danger of being euthanized.
“I do dog rescue because I like to help those who cannot speak for themselves and I know dogs give so much joy and happiness to people. I helped a foster dog once, who was so malnourished, she was supposed to be 6 lbs and when I rescued her she was only 1.5 lbs. When I nursed her back to health it made me feel really happy to help this dog. Now she weighs 8 lbs and her new owner sends me a picture of her every month. I tell people this story because you see the good and the bad, but also you make lifetime friendships with the people who adopt your foster dogs. It’s a great feeling.”
In 2012, Kaycee and a friend created Outlaw Dogs, a non-profit dog rescue located in Orange County, California. Their mission is to rescue abused, endangered and neglected animals, assist with placing dogs in foster and adoptive homes and educate the public on preventing animal cruelty.
“Outlaw Dogs is a dog rescue dedicated to unwanted dogs. We do educational programs talking to students at elementary schools to help teach children that spaying and neutering is an important part of ending euthanasia in animal shelters.”
In September of 2012, Kaycee started in the OTA degree program at Stanbridge College. Her volunteer work in animal rescue has made her accustom to training dogs as service animals to help patients through recovery and rehabilitation.
“My foster dog, who is my dog now, Smuckers, is a Certified Therapy Dog. He can go to nursing facilities, hospitals, and schools to help entertain seniors and disabled people. We went to a nursing facility in Yorba Linda and the patients there was so happy and entertained by him. They told me stories of how they used to have dogs, how they missed owning a dog and that they were so happy that we visited with them.”
From her service work, Kaycee understands just how important it is to help promote animal adoption.
“What makes me feel better is when foster [families] pass on their experiences to their friends and families. It helps encourage more people to be interested in fostering and adopting animals. I believe that community service is a must for everybody. It helps a person be compassionate and to help people who don’t have much or dogs who have been neglected and abused.”
Kaycee hopes to continue to expand the success of Outlaw Dogs and serving those in need for the rest of her life.
“Do what you love and volunteer to share what has been given to you.”
To learn more about dog rescue and adoption Outlaw Dogs, please visit www.facebook.com/outlawdogs. For more information about the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Stanbridge College please visit www.stanbridge.edu.