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UnChained

Organization Mission

UnChained fosters empathy, respect, and responsibility in youth through the human-animal bond.

The Big Idea:
Dogs-in-Residence Program

UnChained works with two vulnerable populations in Santa Cruz County: homeless dogs and at-risk youth.

Our principal program, Canines Teaching Compassion, teaches youth to train shelter dogs in basic skills and manners. The youth help the dogs find homes while developing patience, respect and responsibility. The youth identify with their program dog because they too may have been neglected by caregivers or lived behind bars. Evidence shows that when youth learn kindness and empathy toward animals, they transfer those skills to their human relationships.

Your donation will help to develop a Dogs-in-Residence program in 2020 with select partners so that teams of youth can provide foster care and training for rescue dogs to be adopted. Living with a dog provides young people with a greater bond and responsibility for the dog’s well-being while learning to work with peers for the dog’s benefit.

With waiting lists at several partner locations, this program will enable us to serve more youth, and support animal rescue organizations. Over 90% of our dogs are adopted within 30 days of graduation, and with training, are more likely to stay in their new homes.

Since 2011, UnChained has served over 350 youth who have helped, train, socialize, and find homes for over 170 dogs — unleashing the youth’s potential one dog at a time!

This program has been so inspiring. It’s opened my eyes to how dogs are like humans and it brings out the soft side in all of us. I hope the program doesn’t stop because it gives us a chance to do better.


Caleb, Santa Cruz, 17