could call Gina Protocollo the friend to anything furry, or
for that matter scaly or feathery. The fact that she also
runs a mobile pet grooming service is only incidental to that
fact. "I guess you could say that I'm the voice of the dog,"
she says. "I will do whatever I can when I find a dog that
always been a dog person, really an animal person," she
says. "I've had pigs, birds, even an iguana."
years ago, Protocollo, who has operated K-9 Cleaners in
Valley Center since 2004, came across a dog named Vito,
an adorable Pitbull who didn't look all that adorable when
she first saw him in December 2013.
owner, who lived on the Rincon reservation, had neglected
him to the point where he was covered with Dimodex mange.
The owner reached out and asked Protocollo to help. The
dog was so afflicted by the mange that he could barely see,
and that was his condition when he walked in front of Protocollo's
mobile van. She told the owner, "I'm not leaving without
the dog." She didn't.
"I took him. I treated him, with the help of a veterinarian
technician. If we had taken him to a vet at first, they
would have put him down," she recalls.
It took a year of treatments before anyone could touch Vito
without their hand coming away with blood on it.
Protocollo and her vet assistant friend gave the dog, who
was about six months old at the time, cold laser treatments
to promote hair growth. She had to put medicine in his eyes
constantly to fight the infection that threatened to make
Vito permanently blind.
he progressed enough that she took Vito to Dr. William Hernandez,
an Escondido veterinarian. He was able to treat Vito's mange
Today when she shows up at the office of Dr. William Hernandez
all she has to do is say "Hey, it's Gina with Vito," and
the veterinarian will stop what he's doing and come out
to greet the friendly pooch.
condition is Vito in today? "He doesn't look normal but
at least he's healthy," says Protocollo. She still calls
him "Stinky Boy," although he doesn't smell bad anymore.
Another rescue dog that came from Pala is Peanut, a Chihuahua
whom Protocollo met six years ago.
also occasionally finds homes for dogs that need them. "If
there is a need, I will do it," she says.
continues to work with Dr. Hernandez to provide low cost
spay and neutering services to attempt to reduce the population
of unwanted animals.
Lisa Protocollo has five dogs and all of them are rescues.
They include Vito the Pitbull, Peanut the Chihuahua, a Terrier
mix, a Queensland Heeler and a Doberman.
just acquired Button, a Maltese-Poodle, who needs a home;
and recently found a forever home for Lily-Ann a Weimaraner.
figures that a woman who cares this much about dogs also
gives tender, loving care as a groomer.
basic grooming, Protocollo offers therapeutic grooming,
including massage, laser and Reiki treatments. She also
does bath, brush, ears, nails, teeth-and grooming always
includes a haircut.
She doesn't have "regular" hours and, although she doesn't
like to work every day of the week, it is possible to make
appointments for any of the seven days. "My schedule is
flexible," she says. She does all the work herself, from
a converted van.
She often does fund-raising dog washing, and has raised
funds for the American Cancer Society, Angel's Depot (a
now defunct organization that used to provide elder care
for veterans,) and for the Humane Society. "It breaks my
heart to go down there and I see these dogs and I just want
to take them home," she says.