By Ed Carroll
Last year K-9 Adoption and Mentoring Outdoors—KAMO, by its catchy acronym—was founded by lifelong sportsman Trent Leichleiter for the dual purpose of adopting out dogs from the sporting industry and introducing more people to outdoor pursuits like hunting, fishing and shooting.
Leichleiter, a managing partner at Pheasant Bonanza Hunt Club & Kennel, in northeast Nebraska, has seen the need for both missions during his many years as a hunting guide, dog trainer and shotgunning instructor. According to Leichleiter: “There are a lot of people—and it’s not just kids—who don’t have the means, the exposure or even the opportunity to get outdoors.”
KAMO’s mentorship program is set up to raise money to offer “scholarships” to applicants in experiences ranging from deer, waterfowl and upland hunting to shooting instruction—each supported by Pheasant Bonanza, adjoining landowners and the many hunting guides Leichleiter knows and works with.
In its first year KAMO offered two deer hunting scholarships and received applications from as far away as Texas and Colorado. This year plans call for offering at least one deer hunt, five upland and waterfowl hunts, and 15 opportunities for shooting experiences and instruction.
The dog-adoption mission had a similarly effective inaugural year, finding “furever” homes for 10 of the 11 dogs that were available. These were predominantly retirees and washouts from the commercial hunting operations Leichleiter, his board and his partners have been around for years. Adoptions offer a lifeline for hunting dogs that age out of the daily rigors of guided hunting or that have suffered an injury or proven gun-shy or temperamentally incapable. According to Leichleiter, many of the dogs otherwise would be euthanized.
Until finding adoptive homes, KAMO houses the dogs in Pheasant Bonanza’s kennel, subsidizing the costs of spaying or neutering, shots and food. The organization charges only a $200 adoption fee—which is waived for military veterans.
KAMO is seeking donations and has a fundraiser planned for early summer. Leichleiter is hoping to defray the costs of the mentoring program but especially wants to raise money for an off-site kennel to serve as a quieter shelter for the adoption-program dogs.
For more information, visit kamoinc.org.