Canine Commandos Inc
Melbourne, Florida

Canine Commandos Inc is an American charity in Melbourne, Florida. It was founded in 2003.
It started as an idea by the founder, Virginia Hamilton, who has two passions, teaching fifth and sixth-grade elementary students and helping the ever-growing population of local animal shelters.

The shelters were steadily increasing in numbers and killing dogs and cats due to space.
Although there are plenty of humans looking for dogs, they are less ‘attractive’ to potential adopters because they are depressed or frustrated and many overlooked due to lack of training.

The founder is a teacher of gifted elementary students, where they were always looking out for opportunities to teach kindness, compassion and giving back to their community.

As the founder already volunteered with animals in shelters and spay/neuter organizations, the plan was drafted out with the students, and the Canine Commandos Inc charity was born.
The main goal of Canine Commandos Inc is to provide an opportunity for elementary students to interact with the shelter dogs.

They help the dogs become less depressed, stressed and trained in basic commands to increase the rate of adoption.
The Commandos also reflect on their shelter experiences by creating projects about pet responsibility.

The students bus daily to three shelters and spend time with the dogs.

During this time it ranges from reading to the dogs while they are in their kennels, walking the dogs and spending time training basic commands (watch me, sit, down, stay and come).
During the training, the Commandos fill out a comment card displaying the mastered commands.
The school that trains the next day reviews the commands with the dogs then proceeds to the next.

The Commandos also write comments about the dog to help the adopter make the best decision for their family. The bright gold cards flag the public that the dogs trained are great with kids.
And not only do the Commandos work with shelter dogs, but they socialize cats too.

What do the students get out of it?
It has been well documented for some years students that read to dogs gain more confidence at reading and speaking in public.
They learn patience and selflessness when training the dogs, the feeling of success when the dogs learn from them.
When the Commandos learn of the dogs’ adoption, they celebrate with lots of cheers!
They exude with pride knowing they are giving back to the community.

I contacted the founder Virginia Hamilton for a comment, and she replied with:

“…I'm an animal lover, all kinds, in fact, I don't eat, wear, or use them because they have emotions and feelings and deserve the right to respect, care, and love that only humans can provide.
I volunteer(ed) with animals including shelter animals, spay/neuter organizations, and greyhound racing.
I am fortunate to be allowed to combine two loves, kids and k9’s, to make a change in our community.
The Canine Commandos formed because of this passion.
Saving shelter animals is shared with students in 27 classrooms which became contagious throughout our county schools, and we continue to grow.
I have learned by giving kids the tools to decide for themselves the importance of giving back.
Sharing my passion with excitement comes alive each time I discuss the topic and opens them to learning and expanding their world of compassion and empathy.”

To find out more about Canine Commandos Inc visit their website: