Sometimes we seek out a career field intentionally and hope that it becomes something we have a true talent and genuine love for. Sometimes a career finds us when we’re not looking, and while taking opportunities as they come, we can find a passion and talent that guides us to a cause we genuinely love. This was the case for Brandon Surratt as his initial pursuit of a career in the medical field changed directions completely to a career in law enforcement that led him to find a cause that he believes in so much that he has made it his new full-time business.
When Surratt was twelve years old he moved from NC to the Earls Grove Community in the Seneca area. After graduating from West-Oak High School, he went on to play college football at Coastal Carolina University, until moving back to the home he grew up in. It was here that Surratt had a series of life and career changes that ultimately led him to where he is today. Surratt was taking Nursing classes at Tri-County Technical College, where he met his wife, Brittany. Deciding that he wanted to change his career pursuit from Nursing, Surratt began taking Radiologic Technician classes at AnMed.
“After several months I felt the Lord speak to me. He spoke to me and told me that I needed to go into law enforcement. I argued with him for several weeks before I took a job with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office as a Dispatcher,” recalls Surratt.
After being a Dispatcher for almost a year, Surratt applied at Anderson City Police Department and accepted a job as a Police Officer and eventually transferred to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. After a short stent on patrol and the Ace Team, a Canine Handler position became available to which Surratt applied and was offered the position. It was in this position that Surratt got his dog, Hyco. Hyco was in the news when he was shot and killed in a 2015 incident involving a false police report about a carjacking near Anderson Regional Airport. Four men pled guilty to various roles regarding the shooting of Hyco. During this time, Hyco was a well-known name in Anderson and surrounding areas.
“I’m not sure where Hyco got his name from. He was from Holland and was a fully trained dual-purpose dog when I received him. He was trained by a world-renowned trainer named Charlie Kershner. I went through a short school with Hyco with Kershner. I had no idea what I was doing. I continued my training weekly to gain more knowledge of how to be a handler and to better Hyco. During my years as a handler, I worked to become a Trainer with North American Police Work Dog Association and I am still a certified trainer with the organization,” says Surratt.
After Hyco was killed, Surratt transferred to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, and after completing field training, he was moved to the canine division, and given Mack. Surratt worked with Mack until he hung up law enforcement in 2023.
For Surratt, making the transition from Deputy to civilian was an easy decision and one that has left him with no regrets. Says Surratt,
“The transition has been very smooth, and I have not regretted it at all. I had a very successful career, and I was able to accomplish more than I ever thought I would. I made the transition to spend more time with my family. I was tired of missing dates with my wife, missing practices, rodeos, games, and events at my kids’ schools. We only have a short amount of time with our families, and I wanted to take full advantage of being with them.”
Through his career in law enforcement and the skills he developed in dog handling, Surratt found a passion for dog training and helping dogs to be the best companions they can be for their owners and to train them to help people with a variety of needs.
“I love to work with dogs of all breeds. I also enjoy working with any dog with aggression or environmental issues. I have been able to help folks with their dogs in becoming search and rescue dogs as well as therapy dogs. Working with dogs is a passion that I have been blessed to pursue for a living,” says Surratt.
Surratt offers a two-week, four week, and six week board and train. This is where the dogs come and live with Surratt and his family. During those weeks of training, Surratt will work off leash obedience if the owner desires that.
In addition to his own dog handling business, Surratt is volunteering his dog handling services to the G.E.L.A Foundation. G.E.L.A stands for Get Extraordinary Love Adopt. The mission of the G.E.L.A Foundation is to share with others the extraordinary love you can both give and receive from adopting a pet. Surratt is helping train dogs who may have trouble getting adopted due to aggression or obedience issues.
“I love how the G.E.L.A Foundation is helping dogs find their fur-ever home. There are a lot of dogs without a loving home, and they are helping find those homes one dog at a time. I am looking forward to helping them with the dogs that have been having trouble finding their new home. This might be teaching the dog obedience or helping the dog overcome their fear of some type of environment. They do an amazing job by loving on those dogs until they find their fur-ever home,” says Surratt.
Surratt has come a long way from his early days of training Hyco when he, “had no idea what he was doing,” to now running his own dog handling business and working with the G.E.L.A Foundation to prepare dogs for adoption. His success stems from a passion that he found in a career that found him while he was busy pursuing another field. We never know where life is going to take us or who is going to find us. But with the help of Brandon Surratt and the G.E.L.A Foundation, there are some very lucky dogs who will be amazing companions when the right owner finds them.
To learn more about Brandon Surratt’s dog training services, contact him at [email protected].
To learn more about the G.E.L.A Foundation, visit their website at www.gelafoundation.org.