In 2012 Zach was nominated and received the American Red Cross Kern County Chapter’s Real Hero award in Animal Rescue.  Zach was recognized for all of his achievements over the past 3 years in rescuing dogs from all over Southern California and finding them new homes.  At the time of the award it was 500 dogs now it is over 600 dogs.

Zach and his father Andrew 









From and Interview with Zach and others with Channel 17 News KGET

Zach Skow was diagnosed with end stage liver disease and given just months to live when dogs came to his rescue. It inspired Skow to dedicate his life to rescuing Kern County’s unwanted dogs.

Skow runs Marley’s Mutts dog rescue in Bear Valley Springs. But, why and how he started it makes him a real hero.

At the end of a dark, dingy hallway, two ten-week-old puppies sit scared and shaking. They are unwanted and dumped like most dogs at the Bakersfield Animal Shelter.

“Most of dogs we take in are scared out of their mind. They’ve all been through some traumatic event like me. They’re all scared like me. They’ve all been in fights like me,” explained Skow.

Three and a half years ago, Skow was diagnosed with end stage liver disease at 28, during a ten-year battle with alcoholism. He thought he would never escape.

“Everything scared me to death. Real life scared me to death. Relationships scared me to death. The most fearful thing you could have ever imagined was that you were removing alcohol from me. If you told me that, the world ends,” said Skow.

Dr. Susan Hall met Skow four years ago. She told him if he didn’t stop drinking, he would die in a few months. “Most of us really thought that was it. He had shot his liver and there was no coming back. He looked terrible. He was gray and yellow. There was no light in his eyes at all. He looked like his belly was pregnant, maybe six to eight months pregnant,” explained Hall.

Skow needed a liver transplant, but wasn’t eligible. “I cried. I really liked him right away. I knew there was something in there, and when I talked to his doctors and found out how bad he was, I was really upset about it. I knew that I was going to have to say goodbye to him,” continued Hall.

But, Skow wasn’t ready to say goodbye. He checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. But ,doctors couldn’t treat him because Skow hadn’t been sober long enough. So they sent him home.

“I was itching. I was vomiting blood for 48 hours, no sleep and just hacking, laying on the floor. Tug and Marley didn’t leave my side the entire time, they just sat there,” said Skow.

His father’s two rescue dogs stayed by Skow’s side while he quit drinking. “They woke up excited every day, licking me in the face, stoked to be alive. I wouldn’t have found any of that joy in my own self, but you look at this creature, it’s so ecstatic to be around you. I needed someone to show me life was still worth living,” noted Skow.

Skow started walking the mutts every day. As his health improved, Skow made it his mission to help give unwanted animals new lives, just as they had done for him.

“It’s a connection you just have to witness to explain. They go right to him. He has that sixth sense. It’s just amazing,” said Kathleen Cunningham.

Cunningham has been friends with Skow since they met three years ago. “It’s great to see the magic happen in the rooms of recovery. But he’s gone past that, what he’s done with the dogs. He gives back so much more. It’s just amazing,” said Cunningham.

Skow spends his afternoons riding through the hills of Bear Valley Springs, with the dogs he rescues by his side. Some are from shelters, while others are found on the side of the road. Skow manages to find dogs who often need the most help. The unwanted animals are burned, abused or neglected, dumped and left to die. Each one gets a new life, just as they helped Skow regain his.

“I’m so excited to be alive. I’m so excited to be functioning and have purpose. I had no purpose whatsoever, none,” he said.

Skow has helped find homes for nearly 500 dogs since starting his rescue.