A special program in Plano, Texas, is pairing at-risk, troubled youth with homeless shelter dogs. The Second Chance program is a collaboration of efforts between the Human-Animal Interaction and Education Advocates (HAIEA ), Plano Animal Services and Collin County Truancy court judge John Payton.
The Second Chance program works by matching up at-risk students, who are in need of community service hours to complete court-ordered requirements for truancy violations, with shelter dogs who could use some basic obedience skills in order to better their chances for adoption.
The selected student trainers have some stiff requirements to fulfill during the five week program. Participants are required to attend scheduled sessions (three evenings each week) 100 percent of the time, and they are responsible for caring for the shelter dogs (grooming, walking and more), in addition to teaching them a variety of commands, including come, sit and stay. The student trainers also help the shelter dogs with manners – a critical component to making the dogs more adoptable.
The program has a huge impact on the dogs, as well as the at-risk students who dedicated their time and energy to the training program. Glen Gager, one of the student participants, told the Plano Star Courier his thoughts about the Second Chance program, “All I knew was that we were going to train a dog for a few weeks, and I didn’t know that five weeks was going to be, probably, the best five weeks of my life, honestly.”
Students who participate in the program learn to care for something (more specifically, “some dog”) other than themselves. They also learn about hard work, responsibility, compassion, dedication and commitment.
According to the GoFundMe fundraiser which was created to help keep this program going, the shelter has confirmed that canine “trainees” have an above-average rate of adoption…a win for the at-risk students, and a win for the shelter dogs.
The fundraiser touched on the importance of training for a shelter dog:
Even though most people would prefer to adopt a dog from an animal shelter rather than a breeder, one of their reservations is that shelter dogs have “problems” with behavior, socializing, or aggression. Programs like ours have the potential to change this reputation and make adopters feel confident that a shelter dog will be well-adjusted, socialized, and a perfect forever pet.
Read more about this program, and the fundraiser to support its continuation, here.
Learn more about Haiea here.