UnChained pairs at-risk youth with homeless dogs in need of training and adoption. The youth prepare the dogs for adoption and in the process develop respect, responsibility and compassion for themselves and others, while improving the chances of adoption for the dogs by 50 percent.
Teachers have reported that participating youth were more engaged academically and that their truancy rates were down; and rival gang members have successfully worked together for the benefit of helping a dog in need.
The Big Idea:
Canines Teaching Compassion
The Canines Teaching Compassion program offers an innovative way of instilling positive values in at-risk youth. In the upcoming year we hope to expand this successful 8-week program by adding three more programs in Santa Cruz County.
UnChained offers an affordable, effective solution to reducing violence among youth through dog training and relationship building. The youths train the dogs using reward and praise versus force and punishment. This method supports positive interpersonal relationships with humans, as well. When the youth are given the opportunity to change the lives of homeless dogs who share similar experiences of neglect, abandonment or abuse, they can begin to see the possibility of their own second chance.
What I’m most proud of is that I accomplished something. My dog Bear is going to a good home and I can be calmer. I’ve learned a lot of stuff. Just to be patient and be me. It feels good to help people, because you’re doing something right, making up for some of the negative stuff.
— Youth Trainer, Luis