Denise’s storied career as an award-winning author, animal care instructor and radio show host has certainly prepared her for this leadership role. She was named one of Pet Age Magazine’s “Women of Influence” for 2018, and a “Most Inspiring Story” in 2017 by Voyage Atlanta Magazine. As The Pet Safety Crusader™, a trademark of her company, Sunny-dog Ink, Fleck has taught more than 15,000 animal lovers life-saving skills. She’s also appeared on Animal Planet’s Groomer Has It and Pit Boss, A&E’s Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, CBS-TV’s The Doctors, CNN Headline News, PBS-TV’s Lassie’s Pet Vet, K9Corner and had made more than 50 appearances on the KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles, as well as on radio and in magazines. She’s also authored ten animal care books...and counting. But that’s just what keeps her busy for her day job. As a volunteer, she’s been working with and learning from shelter dogs for years.
When asked why she chose to join the Grey Muzzle board in 2016, Denise explains, “I have had the privilege of caring for 11 dogs into their senior-hood and more than half of them joined my family as seniors, so older best friends hold a special place in my heart. If there is anything I can do to help dogs in need feel loved and appreciated, I'm there!”
Denise is looking forward to the challenge of meeting the high standards set by Past President of the Board, Jennifer Kachnic, who for the past five years has led Grey Muzzle’s unprecedented growth. In 2013, when Jenny joined the Board, grants awarded totaled about $80,000 to a dozen rescue groups and shelters. Just five years later, Grey Muzzle awarded almost $390,000 to 66 groups in 32 states, marking the organization’s 10th anniversary. At the beginning of her tenure, Jenny was also responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization, until the Board took the next step and hired Grey Muzzle’s first Executive Director. She views that as the turning point for Grey Muzzle’s growth and is ready to continue in a board member role to help further elevate the organization.
Both Jenny and Denise envision growing Grey Muzzle’s funding and thereby increasing grants awarded as well as shaping the organization to be the “go-to” place for all things related to senior dogs. They’d both like to see more mentoring provided to current and potential grantees on innovative and sustainable programs for senior dogs and education provided on a variety of topics including senior dog adoption, hospice and health.
While making the transition from president to board member is bittersweet, Jenny knows she’s leaving her post in good hands. She says, “Denise has a big heart not only for senior dogs, but people as well. She is a strong leader and always has a can-do positive attitude with the background, skills and passion for older dogs.”
We’re looking forward to the next decade of improving the lives of at-risk senior dogs with Denise at the helm.