Space Coast residents love their pets. They also love helping other people’s pets and pets that don’t have a home yet. Meet some of Brevard’s animal advocates to find out more about how they’re helping our furry citizens.

It’s a Dog’s Life at Paradise Luxury Pet Resort

Whoever coined the phrase, “it’s a dog’s life” hasn’t been to Paradise Luxury Pet Resort, a cageless and crateless resort for pampered pooches, located on 12 acres in Palm Bay. The resort provides a stress-free environment for dogs to stay and play. Along with boarding, Paradise also offers day play and professional grooming.

The facility includes two separate houses for large and smaller dogs, large outdoor play yards, two ponds, air-conditioned play areas for those hot summer days, special care rooms for older or special needs dogs, comfortable bedrooms with couches, blankets and plenty of beds for naps and bedtime.

“We know the dogs,” Heather Carelli, who now owns Paradise Luxury Pet Resort, explains. “If a dog is in a cage, you don’t get to know them and you don’t know when there’s an issue. That’s really important.”

Space Coast fur babies are separated by temperament and size after an initial analysis and an introduction to other dogs to see their reaction. Although, Heather explained that even if a dog appears aggressive, the pooch is not immediately excluded from the fun.

“We like to work with the dogs,” Heather explains. “We have certified trainers on staff to work on their socialization.”

Naturally, dogs are also required to have up-to-date vaccinations and flea protection.

Heather herself has a deep love of dogs that originally inspired her to start a day care and boarding facility in Melbourne in 2005. She knew she wanted to start her own business but wasn’t sure what kind.

“I looked around my living room and all I saw were dogs!”

She took a year to learn as much as she could, attending conferences, interning at a veterinarian’s office and acquiring the right certifications including ones from the American Boarding Kennel Association. Once she opened, she quickly found success and was looking to expand this year when she acquired Paradise Luxury Pet Resort in Palm Bay.

The Melbourne site, located at the corner of Eau Gallie and US1, still provides day play and grooming at a convenient location, as well as, large indoor air conditioned play rooms, 1,500 square foot outside yard and a splash pool. Again, with the promise that dogs will never go in a cage or crate.

So what’s a typical day like when you’re responsible (at times) for over 100 dogs?

Heather and her team begin at 7 a.m. Phones start ringing and parents begin dropping off their babies. In the morning, the “big guys,” as Heather affectionately calls them, are sent to the pond to play. Boarding dogs are fed and the little dogs are out in the yard for play. Around lunchtime, everyone “goes inside” for a nap. Then more play in the afternoon with trainers and staff. The dogs are always supervised. All day care pups are picked up by 6:30 p.m., sent home worn out and content. All dogs sleep in bedrooms in small groups of like size and temperament.

As most puppy parents know, boarding can be stressful for animals and their owners. But selecting the right setting will ease the mind of you and your precious companion. At Paradise Luxury Pet Resort, the name says it all! (321) 728-2200.

Rescue Missions with Pilots N Paws


In the spring of 2012, Pat Picornell participated in her first flight for Pilots N Paws.

“A friend called me looking for help,” Pat begins her story. “A group of animal advocates wanted to transport 400 dogs and puppies from high-kill shelters in the Carolinas to local foster homes and rescue groups throughout the East Coast.”

It was the largest transport ever attempted by Pilots N Paws and Pat found herself surrounded by volunteer pilots and rescue groups eager to help.

“It took 60 airplanes,and countless volunteers to pull it off, but what a huge success! Participating in this rescue was life-changing for me,” she remembers.

Since that memorable day, Pat, along with her husband, Kiko, have flown nine more rescue flights, successfully transporting 39 dogs to new homes. “I’ve always been an animal lover, and it feels right to help those who can’t help themselves,” she says passionately.

Pilots N Paws functions because of volunteers like Pat. During the week, she is busy at Sterling Wealth Management for UBS Financial Services as a CFP & Wealth Advisor. Now, Pilots N Paws is her hobby. “Pilots N Paws does not run on charity dollars,” Pat explains. “It runs on the charity of the pilots. It gives your trip a purpose.”

You can find out more information about Pilots N Paws on its website This site facilitates the connection of able pilots willing to provide free transportation to organiza- tions that rescue, shelter and foster animals. This connection has already worked to save the lives of thousands of innocent animals.

“I am proud of the volunteer work I do with this organization,” says Pat. “I look forward to many rescue flights and happy tails.”

Bone Appetit with Hayes Meats

A large photo of three adorable Schnauzers hangs prominent- ly behind the cashier counter in Hayes Meats, Gourmet Foods & Produce. These beloved pets belong to owners Gem and Connie Gurgan. Soon “their kids” will each have an honorary dish at the store, once their shop expands to include a gourmet prime rib steak house in the spring of 2014. “We’ll have Chloe Burgers, Sadie Fingers and Maggie Macaroni on our kids’ menu,” Connie says with a grin.

A contagious enthusiasm emanates from Gem and Connie Gurgan. They’ve envisionedacompletelyuniqueconcept that combines a pet-friendly environment with an exceptional dining experience. “We see customers choosing their own custom cut of steak, then enjoying a glass of wine or beer as it cooks to perfection over an open grill,” Gem explains.

“Often, after working all day, we feel guilty leaving our pets for a night out,” says Connie. “This will be a place that everyone can enjoy. Pet owners will love the doggie play yard we’re planning. We’ve noticed that a more social environment evolves when an event includes pets.”

Avid animal lovers, the Gurgans hosted their fifth Whiskers, Wag, and Wine, an annual outreach held each March, out- doors, at Hayes Meats, Gourmet Foods & Produce. They created this event to benefit the Central Brevard Humane Society in Cocoa. “God gave us a big love for animals,” Connie explains.

This love has extended far into their community who view Hayes Meats, Gourmet Foods & Produce as an iconic part of Merritt Island society. “We’ve become the ‘Cheers’ of Merritt Island,” Gem smiles. “We know our customers by name. It’s all about building relationships and exceeding expectations.”

From Start to Finish at Greyhound Pets of America

Famously dedicated, Dennis and Claire Tyler have facilitated the adoption of over 7,500 retired greyhounds through their nonprofit, Greyhound Pets of America, Central Florida. In the 2011 “People Reader’s Choice Hero Campaign,” Dennis was a featured Hero for “People Magazine,” ultimately leading to $10,000 from Jeep.

But it all began back in 1991, when Dennis saw an incredible need for grey- hound adoption at the Melbourne Race Track. “There were so many dogs that needed homes,” Dennis recalls.

Clairvoyant, his first greyhound rescue, quickly became a beloved pet. She ultimately inspired the vision that would lead Dennis and Claire to become avid advocates for these beautiful creatures. “Her name was well-suited,” Dennis muses.

In 1996, the Melbourne Greyhound Park invited Greyhound Pets of America to be the official adoption agency at the track. Since then, they’ve overseen the medical care, profiling and transportation of these Florida greyhounds, finding homes for them all across the East Coast.

Dennis and Claire transport up to 44 dogs in their trailer a couple times per year. Some of these greyhounds find placement in amazing programs that pair incarcerated juveniles and women who train and socialize the animals for adoption. This partnership helps the animals while simultaneously building compassion and self-esteem for inmates.

“People often have the wrong idea about greyhounds,” Dennis says. “Your backyard doesn’t have to look like a racetrack in order to keep them as a pet. A good walk will suffice.”

Is there any advice for those considering a greyhound adoption? “The danger in adopting a greyhound,” Dennis explains, “Is that once you get one greyhound, you will want more greyhounds.”

You can help by donating to Greyhound Pets of America or consider adopting a greyhound of your own. Schedule an appointment to meet the Melbourne grey- hounds waiting for good homes.

Reconnecting Lost Pets with Owners at

If you’ve ever lost a pet, you probably remember hanging signs on every street corner in desperate hope that your loved one would be found. The heartbreaking fear that somewhere out there in the streets, your beloved companion is struggling to survive and waiting for you to rescue them, sends you on countless trips around the neighborhood and knocking on strangers’ doors. Now, thanks to Lynn Miragelia, is here to aid you in your search.

“Whether someone has lost or found a pet, there is now a common, easily accessible place that can assist with reunites,” she says. “In addition, quite a few pets have been released from shelters at a faster rate thanks to community members and shelter staff who have noticed a lost pet listed on the site and then saw that same pet at a shelter.”

This website was created in memory of Lynn’s mother, Ann Julia Rowe Fee Boyens. “Her influence led me to develop this free resource to help people who have lost an animal companion. She would have been so happy to know how many pets have been reunited with their owners thanks to,” Lynn states.

Lynn has some advice for pet owners. “I urge everyone to get some kind of ID on their companion animals: tags, tattoos, microchips, or better yet two or more of these IDs. Though nothing is fail safe, every bit helps.”