‘Hardcore’ dog shelter announces executive director and groundbreaking schedule

The most up-to-date rendering of the approved front view of Unconditional’s permanent installation on Laguna Canyon Road. Image courtesy of Unconditional Inc.

Amy and Julian Mack, founders of Unconditional Inc., a new Laguna Beach nonprofit dog shelter focused on saving vulnerable and neglected dogs, announced that Peter Chang will serve as its executive director.

The nonprofit said the shelter’s mission is “to build a world where people see the value in senior and special dogs and to ensure that everyone has a chance to find a loving home.”

Chang, the former chief executive of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC), was hired as the nonprofit organization completes its final licensing stages with the city of Laguna Beach for construction of its brand new passage on Laguna Canyon Road.

The existing building has already been demolished and construction should start before the end of the year.

Designed to look more like a home than a rescue facility, the two-story, 8,000 square foot building will house up to 40 dogs as the organization works to find homes for them. Unconditional anticipates that on a large scale, it will rescue and adopt over 1,000 senior and special needs dogs each year.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have earned Amy and Julian’s trust,” Chang said. “What they’ve created in Unconditional is a mission that the community really supports in a big way as word of it spreads. It is extremely tragic what is happening to senior and special needs dogs in shelters across the country, and people don’t realize it. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to infuse the community with positivity and to come together as we work to support these amazing dogs.

As CEO of PMMC, Chang helped form a new operational leadership team, including a nationally recognized thought leader in marine mammal science. He expanded local community educational programs for children’s hospitals to a national audience, expanding PMMC’s reach to more than 26,000 a year. He has forged creative partnerships with local brands such as Vans, international companies such as Dell Computer and various celebrities. He also led PMMC’s largest capital campaign of $7.5 million to fund the expansion of the facility and the addition of a water reclamation system.

Prior to joining PMMC, Chang was the founding executive director of the Child Creativity Lab, which continues to serve approximately 20,000 children each year with programs aimed at helping build problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The association is now in its 10th year.

“Peter is this rare and exceptional person who attracts talented people with a magnetic attraction,” said Amy Mack. “You feel his passion and energy the moment you meet him. Launching a new organization requires a full arsenal of skills and is one of the most challenging tasks. Peter brings all of this and more. We are more than honored that Peter has chosen to partner with us to build Unconditional – what a huge win for senior and special needs dogs.

The non-profit organization expects the medical costs for an at-risk dog population to be significant. Therefore, the Macks are building a sister entity, Rise Pet Care, to ease this burden. Through a partnership, Rise will provide pro bono medical care to Unconditional’s dogs, ensuring they are in their best health for adoption.

Unconditional was also recently selected to be the recipient of this year’s Chef Masters event to be held October 16 at the Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach. This outdoor food and wine tasting event will bring together over 300 attendees interested in Unconditional’s journey. The event will feature approximately 40 renowned chefs and a dozen wineries. Guests, including community leaders, will have the opportunity to mingle directly and sample their creative dishes for the evening. This will be the organization’s launch event and its main fundraiser for the year.

For more information about the nonprofit, visit www.unconditionalrescue.org and www.chefmasters.org.

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