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‘Aim High’ is life’s goal of area's new kennel owner and trainer

Published: Wed, April 15, 2009 @ 12:04 a.m.

A North Carolina woman hopes to give a fresh start to the kennel shut down over animal cruelty last year.



  Aim High K9 Kennel

New Boarding and Training Kennel in Youngstown

New Boarding and Training Kennel in Youngstown

Aimee Markle is hoping the past doesn’t come back to bite her.

The 30-year-old has moved here from North Carolina to open a kennel and dog-training facility at 1516 Coitsville-Hubbard Road, where another kennel was shut down last fall because of animal cruelty charges.

Animal owners were shocked last October when they found seven dead dogs at the kennel and 12 that were starving.

Steve Croley, 38, owner of High Caliber K-9, was convicted in January of four misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to four months in jail and a $1,000 fine. State legislators from the area were so outraged that they introduced bills that would make animal cruelty charges a felony.

Markle is banking on animal owners being grateful that she has opened a new business on the site and hoping they won’t be afraid to stop in.

“It has a stigma, but I think you can overreact to that. The place didn’t do anything wrong. It was the people,” she said.

Her new business is called Aim High K9.

Markle, a native of Albany, N.Y., has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Kent State University but always saw herself as a dog trainer. She worked at a kennel to help put herself through college.

She moved from Grafton, Ohio, to North Carolina in 2005 to attend Tarheel Canine Training. After learning how to train dogs, she stayed on for an intensive, one-year internship and then was hired as the school’s head obedience trainer.

Janet Dooley, head trainer at Tarheel, said Markle developed good relationships with clients and was able to work with all kinds of dogs.

“She has an ability to adapt to an individual dog, to really get the feel for what will work best with that dog,” Dooley said.

When Markle decided it was time to open her own business, she looked north, so she could be closer to her father, who lives in North Canton, and her extended family in Albany.

Last fall, she heard from people at Tarheel that the Youngstown kennel might become available. Before she could arrange a visit, however, the dead and starving dogs hit the news.

She was devastated by the treatment of the animals but she liked the location of Youngstown and knew she couldn’t afford to buy a successful kennel.

For advice, she went to her father, Dan Markle, who is a retired supply chain specialist for Goodyear. He was unsettled by the bad publicity the Youngstown kennel had received and wasn’t sure how to guide her.

“I told her that it’s going to be a real hard road to come back after something like that,” he said.

His daughter, who always had dogs growing up, decided to take the plunge and rent the kennel and adjoining house.

In late November, father and daughter started the cleanup.

“It was a disaster,” Dan Markle said.

The house, which is owned by a landlord in Virginia, had been vandalized extensively. Water spigots had been left on. Pipes had burst and 2 feet of water was in the basement. All of the carpets needed replaced, words such as “kill” were written on the walls and all of the windows were smashed.

Dan Markle admitted to being worried about his daughter. She was determined to make it work.

By March 1, they had fixed up the house enough so she could move in, and then they started working on the kennel, which has inside and outside cages for 20 dogs.

“I bleached everything,” said Aimee Markle, who has four dogs of her own.

They put new wood floors inside and fixed the doors, gates and fencing.

They also turned a former two-car garage into a carpeted, indoor training room.

Aimee Markle is trying to build her business by leaving fliers at the offices of area veterinarians and sending letters to area dog owners.

She is boarding several dogs for a friend who is moving from North Carolina to Kentucky, and she recently received her first paying customer. A person stopped by, liked what they saw and left a Great Dane for two weeks of obedience training.

She charges $500 for the two-week course. A dog stays at the kennel and receives training two or three times a day to learn basic commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and how to walk on a leash. Training on how to act off a leash is additional.

Markle charges $12 a night if a customer needs only boarding.

Although she still has to build up a clientele, Markle said she has been encouraged by the people who have stopped by. The visitors often are people who boarded their dogs there in the past and say it used to be a good facility.

“I know it can be a good place again,” Markle said.



1DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I wish them all the luck in the world, hopefully something good will come out of this and replace all the sorrow that the past owner created! Good Luck.

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2ads(109 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I am with Dragon, hopefully something good will come out of that hell. I wish her all the luck too. She has 7 angels with her!

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3animallover(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I have to disagree. Nothing will ever replace the sorrow the Croley created for people as Dragon seems to think. Personally I think that house should have been condemned or used as a shelter of some kind.

Just imagine this, there is a day care center in your neighborhood, 7 children are tortured and killed there. Now 6 months later a new day care opens - what would you think? I would never step foot near that place again and i dont think it is any different because it was dogs.
Just because you fix something up does not mean the memories are gone. Oh yeah let me board my dog in the same kennel run that 7 dogs were murdered but its ok because you put a new floor.

This woman knew what she was getting her self into and im sorry but i do not wish her any luck.

I feel like she is using this horrible horrible situation to her benefit and that is disgusting. From the video I feel like she is playing with peoples emotions, come check me out and by the way feel sorry for me, try me out.

I do have one question for her in particular. How could you even live in that house or walk in your yard and not see dead animals? Did you see any of the pictures? Maybe you are not a true animal lover?

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4wakeboarder(17 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I have to tell you I find your comments a bit harsh. If we never re-established businesses or homes on land where people (or animals in this case) were once killed, we would have no where to live. Think about it, wars fought on our own land, are now the places were we live.

Aimee is trying to make an honest living and turn something awful into something great. I think her heart is in the right place....

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5ads(109 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

no one is forgetting the great loss that occured there. We are hoping she can turn the bad into good. And I certainly am not saying it's any less significate because it was a kennel for dogs. I have both animal babies and a son. And believe me I am an animal advocate. I am hoping for the best and wish luck to Aimee.

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6wakeboarder(17 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I totally, whole-heartedly agree.

May I also add that I spoke with Aimee today about training my pups. She knows her stuff.

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7scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Wakeboarder has a great point. We shouldn't punish the new owner because of what happened on the site before. It sounds like she's done alot to fix it up. I wish her the best of luck........in fact double that to make up for lack of luck wished by animallover. (that comparison was very harsh)

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8jgm820(133 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I wish her luck also - I drive by often and am glad to see the place cleaned up and productive again.

If we do get a dog this summer, we'll stop by and see her for some training tips.

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9animallover(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I agree businesses and homes need to be re-established but to a point and i think this may have crossed the line. You dont really see homes or businesses just reopen, they are torn down and changed drastically (not that it makes much of a difference to me) and may not reopen for a long time. This place had a "good hose down" nothing has changed.

I dont find my comparison harsh at all. For all animal lovers what if your dog was killed there? How would you feel? and for the non animal lovers what makes my comparison harsh because its "just a dog"?

We are entitled to our opinions and this is mine.

After this experience I will never bring my dog to a kennel again, you never truly know the person or what is really going on.

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10animallover(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

By the way bleach will never remove the dead images in my mind and i am sure many others.

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11ads(109 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I am an animal lover and I believe she deserves a chance to make good. Let's stop being so negative and make something positive out of it. Steve Croley inflicted the abuse on those animals not the grounds.

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12scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

So animal you're saying if she would have torn down the house and kennels - then rebuilt them you'd be Ok with it?
And as for the comments about being "too soon", how long would you have suggested she wait?
1 year?, 2?, 5? 25?
If the scars are truly as deep as you make them out to be nothing will ease them.
Again I wish her luck, and I too am an ANIMAL lover......but they are just dogs.

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13ads(109 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

come on scrooge, just when i think your a nice guy/girl?? you throw in a bad comment.

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14DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

ANIMALLOVER- IF you dont move on and keep living in the past, what good will that do?? You will be a depressed person for the rest of your life. She is trying to make that kennel a better place to take your dog. I wish her the best, at least she is doing something to better that area! What would u do??? I bet nothing.

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15redvert(2240 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

ads,I think you missed the point of what scrooge is saying. My take is that he is reminding us that some people seem to have a different standard for animals. I especially refer to dogs and cats on the whole that will treat humans better than we treat them.

When you see cases of dogs attacking people you can in most cases look at the owners to see why the animal was aggressive.

Maybe I got his meaning all wrong but I don't think so!

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16animallover(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Scrooge, like i said it wouldnt make much of a difference to me, maybe i need to "speak" slower for you. I do not think it is OK regardless of the amount of time or aesthetic changes.

This is my opinion just as you have yours. She knew what she was getting into when she even considered the place.

Dragon i can live wherever i please thank you. Think as you please. I know if I could I would have opened a no kill shelter instead of taking this horrible incident and making a profit from it.

I know if i ever stepped foot into that house all i would hear is the dying cries of those dogs. As i went to sleep out my window dogs begging for help. Gives me chills and the creeps. I wonder what type of person could do that?

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17animallover(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

redvert, if you ever go back and look at the posts scrooge has made in the past about the Croley case you will see his true colors and is no animal lover. Animal lovers see their pets as their family. To scrooge its just property. very sad.

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18ads(109 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I was simply poking fun at "scrooge".

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19DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Dragon i can live wherever i please thank you ??? re-read what I said will ya, animallover! Everyone is intitled to there own opinion, yours is just negative, there is a no-kill shealter in Salem. In this day and time with everything closing up and being boarded up, thanks to this wonderful economy, give her support will you, NO one said you have to go there. But dont wish her to fail, you open a no-kill shelter then.

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20scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I do like animals (especially when properly cooked! - LOL I couldn't resist that) but I can't comprehend anyone that puts them on an equal plane with humans. Animals are a lesser species than humans and I defy anyone to tell me they would save an animal before they would save a child.
I've had dogs as pets since I was a kid as well as birds, reptiles, fish etc (NO Cats!) and couldn't/wouldn't ever mistreat them. I just don't get the bizarre mental capacity for people to equate them as "their children".
When it's all said and done dogs are still a lower species than a human.......an animal. after all WE are THEIR masters-not the other way around.

Hopefully she can make the property a place where Animallover can hear dogs playing instead of crying when she opens the window. Isn't that the point - to move on and replace the bad memories with good ones?

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21scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

By the way ads, I got the poking fun even if they didn't.
LOL I am a nice guy! Well, kinda anyway.

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22animallover(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Dragon i never wished her to fail. YOU REREAD what i wrote.

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23DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

YOUR words say it all animallover! You are a angery person arnt you?

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24luvsdogs(70 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Honestly I wasn’t going to comment here but some of what is written is just wrong. While I don’t wish Aimee back luck or anything I can’t imagine anyone thinking this was going to be easy and she probably should have listened to her father’s advice and not start at this location. Some of the way this story is written is absolutely crazy – “extensive renovations” , maybe there were extensive renovations done inside of the home but definitely not in the kennel and quite frankly that is where I would be putting my dogs if boarded so I really don’t care about renovations made inside the home. “2 car garages converted into a training room”? It was a training room for over 2 years. I could see stating extensive renovations if they put in a fire sprinkler system. “Overreact”? I don’t believe anyone is overreacting 7 dogs were killed here and 12 more starved, customers were coming and going but because of the way this is set-up no one could see into the kennel/yard area so they didn’t know anything was wrong or a dog owner would have called and alerted the authorities. Is this “new set-up” different than before? “New Laws in the works” well we’ve all heard that before, nothing ever changes, and let’s face facts our local authorities didn’t enforce the laws that are already on the books so we all know now how that works too. Croley took people’s money for a service, boarding and training and didn’t feed or care for the dogs. He killed other people’s dogs and yet he was never charged with any type of fraud charges? Where is the consumer protection here? Where is there any sort of protection for our family members? Do any laws bring your dead family member back to life? “Landlord in Virginia”? this is the same landlord that stated Croley was 6 months behind in rent and that didn’t raise a red flag problem to him? How would kennel customers know a business was 6 months behind in rent? Heck, I didn’t even know the previous guy didn’t own this place. Did this landlord ever check on this kennel and his property periodically? Obviously he didn’t, so how can a customer feel comfortable knowing that?

I’ve kenneled my dogs in the past but after what happened at High Caliber I would never kennel my dogs again. I would strongly recommend to anyone considering of boarding their dog to think twice and then think again of turning over a family member to any kennel.

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25jgm820(133 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

You know, Angels for Animals is a beautiful facility, with a beautiful mission, but does anyone know what business was that site before theirs? A slaughterhouse. Ironic - I know.

The Crowley situation was reprehensible, hopefully this young lady will turn the place around again. There were other owners who ran kennels out of there before Mr. Crowley. I grew up in that area and it has been a kennel at least since the 80's.

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26luvsdogs(70 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

jgm820 yes I agree with animallover and with your post. This location, just like Angels for Animals, should have been turned into a shelter with a beautiful mission.

Lord knows many of them could use a proper kennel. I think a shelter would be very welcome and accepted by our community at this location.

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27redvert(2240 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Something I learned a long time ago is if you watch how a person will treat a defenseless pet it is usually a good example of what they are capable of when it comes to treating a human.

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28DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

U are so right Red!

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29scrooge(563 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Luvsdogs, while I understand your compassion, you're going a little psycho here. Extensive renovations means just that-to the house AND kennel. Judging from the picture you have full view of the kennel and it appears new decking was installed around it.
I know in your perfect world the kennels would have clean linens and turn down service in each cage, but the way the owner lives is a much greater impact on the puplic than hot and cold running water and new bidets in the kennel. If she lives in a run down shanty the perception is that she would treat the dogs accordingly. Most of the renovations was to repair the vandalism caused by being empty and, I would guess, people hoping to "make Croley pay" by destoying his home. You also don't know the extent of the garage renovation so please don't criticize.
Since no-kill shelters are totally privatly funded in most all cases if this had been turned into a shelter you would most likely still be whining and complaining. Dogs would most likely still die there - but at a much greater number.
As I've said many times here - give the girl a break!

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30DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I really dont think "some" people will ever be happy with anything, no matter how hard someone tries. Kinda sad...

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31luvsdogs(70 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Scrooge I would suggest being you have obviously never been to this facility and you have such an opposite opinion you visit the kennel when the trees are full. You cannot see the kennel/yard and because of this reason Croley was able to hide dead and starving dogs for quite some time. I am most definitely not going psycho and I do not mean Aimee any harm I am simply stating facts, not fiction. I am not expecting white linen turn-down service or dog bisquits on pillows at bedtime. Dogs do require clean drinking water and in the event of a fire, a sprinker system would be a valuable life-saving "extensive renovation" which many kennels have in place now. How could anyone expect 1 person to save 20 boarders in the event of a fire? I know first-hand the decking in the kennels is exactly the same as before and I know first-hand the renovations done in the garages training room are very minimal. "Some" of us love and value the care, health and safety of our family members very much and "Some" of us learned a valuable lesson from the tragedy that occured at High Caliber K9. I think it's very sad that kennels aren't inspected nor monitored, humane agents aren't trained/authorized, the authorities don't consider animal abuse a serious crime and the laws don't protect us. Not many changes were made at this facility as stated and "some" people who truly love their irreplacable family member deserve to know the facts before boarding.

Of course I know non-kill shelters are primarily privately funded as I am a contributor to many and I am fully aware that shelters kill animals but they do many wonderful things and afford the opportunity of a new home to many very adoptable animals.

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32JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

(animallover: By the way bleach will never remove the dead images in my mind and i am sure many others.)

That's because you haven't tried drinking bleach...I suggest you do.

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33Ken(153 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I am not an animal lover nor an animal owner..but when someone like Aimee (whom I do not know) takes a risk by owing a business in this area...more power to her. I certainly hope she succeeds and I'll bet her love for animals will show through as she look after the animals left in her care.

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34GSD1(1 comment)posted 6 years, 11 months ago

I boarded my dog with Aim High K9 a few weeks ago and could not have been happier (neither could my dog). I love animals and baby my dog way more than I probably should. She invited us to bring him out for a visit before booking an appointment. We watched her interact with him and spoke with her. Aimee is very knowledgeable about the training and care of dogs. The kennels were clean, the yard was clean and the dogs that were there all looked great. We were impressed. We also opted to have her do some training with off leash recalls with our dog.

When we picked him up he was happy and healthy. He was actually in better shape than we left him. He had developed better stamina and some more muscle tone. Better yet, he was giving Aimee big kisses and was not in anyway fearful of her. His training results have been remarkable, he now comes when we call him, even if chasing a squirrel. She matched him with one of her dogs and let them play in the yard. She gave him time to run around and played fetch with him. She had even taken him to the park to practice his recalls. Which is all great because he did not just sit in his kennel all day everyday. A few days after leaving, Aimee contacted us to check on his progress and offer tips to help his recalls continue to go well.

And if you love your dog like we do ours, she encourages you to check on them throughout their stay. She has facebook and twitter which are updated and answered daily. Her website is just as impressive.

We couldn't be happier and would recommend Aimee and Aim High Kennel to anyone. We checked out several kennels before leaving our dog at Aim High K9 and after this experience, I would not hesitate to leave him there and use Aimee again any time.

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