“How can I do more?”
Whether Rocky Kanaka has built a new shelter or found a forever loving home for a rescue, this is a question the pet rescue advocate asks himself every day.
Rocky’s passion for animals started from a very young age, with his mom taking in any stray they may have found around his hometowns in Hawaii and in Kansas City, Missouri. He and his family didn’t grow up with much, but when it came to rescue animals, his mom was adamant on giving them a forever loving home.
“We were always helping dogs,” said Rocky. “It’s really the only thing I know and I’m blessed to have had that in my childhood.”
After graduating from Southwest Missouri State, Rocky took his entrepreneurial spirit to the big city of Los Angeles. He started out working odd jobs including one as a copy machine salesman, before following his true passion of helping dogs in need.
Rocky opened a dog bakery as a passion project in hopes of using that business to help homeless dogs.
“I really love baking and I love dogs and I love the connection that you get with the animal when you’re baking for them. They can feel that love, especially when you include them in the process.”
The Dog Bakery has now been open to the public for almost 20 years, with multiple stores across the South Bay area. To top it off, Rocky’s bakeries ship thousands of birthday cakes all over the country so dogs across the U.S. can feel the love Rocky believes they all deserve.
“It’s such a good feeling of happiness to see all of these messages and see all of these customers that are having such a positive experience with their pets.”
After years of success with the bakery, Rocky was asked to host a show on the CW Network called ‘Save Our Shelter’ where he would help reform struggling rescues and shelters by coming up with innovative solutions. Rocky and his team traveled across North America helping animal shelters and the animals that they work so hard to take care of.
After two seasons, Rocky and his team took their passion for helping rescue animals to YouTube and created a similar series to the TV show.
“I felt like there were other people out there that wanted to do what we were doing so I just turned on the camera and started sharing about fostering and adoption … It turned out there were a lot of people out there that believed the way that I do. Every animal deserves love and respect in a home and as a community, we can all help these animals.”
With close to 2.5 million YouTube subscribers, Rocky has been able to make a positive impact on animals and people all over the world. By making these videos, Rocky helps encourage others to help make a difference and save more animals.
“I think the most inspirational thing is everyone that’s a part of this community also wants to help and when I get messages that say, ‘hey, I adopted a dog this weekend,’ man, that keeps me going.”
Rocky has worked with so many different dogs in various situations, but the one that continues to stand out to him the most is a little dog named Blossom. Rocky and his team helped rescue this sweet pup from a hoarding situation in Bakersfield, California. The owner had over 40 dogs living with him in a very unsafe situation, which led Rocky to rescue her from the horrendous situation.
“I thought it was going to take me maybe a month or two to rehabilitate this dog and it took me almost a year. I learned more from that dog than she ever did from me.”
“The most neat part about this experience is people to this day still come up to me and ask me how Blossom is doing and I’m just blown away because of the impact she not only had on my life, but on everyone’s life.”
While Rocky and his team get to celebrate many wins like the success they had with Blossom, they face the constant challenge of there always being so much work that needs to be done in the animal welfare community. While it can be easy to sometimes get cynical, down, or sad, Rocky remains encouraged by the amount of people who believe like he does, that as a community, they can really make a difference.
One of the most common questions Rocky receives is, ‘how do you do what you do?’. To Rocky, it’s plain and simple; start by heading down to the local shelter and asking them how you can help.
“If other people want to do what I’m doing, just get started and start small. If you don’t fit in with one shelter or if you’re not a right fit as a foster, don’t let that get you down. Find another shelter, adopt another rescue, and just find another way that you can get involved and help animals. Small actions will lead to big things.”
For the future, Rocky hopes to continue to advocate for animals and get more people involved in the animal rescue community. Just being a good person to the animal that you have at home goes a long way in helping the animal community. Animals can feel the love and like Rocky did, we too can learn so much from them.
We can’t thank Rocky enough for all that he and his team have done for the CUDDLY community. Check out all that he’s done for the Pasadena Humane Society and the Seal Beach Animal Care Center at www.cuddly.com/rocky.
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