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Unchained

Organization Mission

To foster empathy, respect and responsibility in youth through the human-animal bond.

Since 2012, UnChained has served more than 400 youth who have helped, train, socialize, and find homes for over 200 dogs — unleashing the youth’s potential one dog at a time!

The Big Idea 2023:
From Ruff to Ready

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

UnChained offers innovative animal-assisted therapy in an 8-week Canines Teaching Compassion program (CTC) program for youth and dogs twice a week, teaching teens to train dogs in basic skills, positive socialization, and good manners. Our youth help place the dogs into adoptive homes after having achieved values of patience, respect and responsibility for themselves and others.

When youth develop a sense of purpose and self-worth through our CTC program, this trickles down to the whole county, through their high school graduation, employment, reduced recidivism rate (staying out of juvenile detention), and overall contribution to the community.

Beginning in 2021, UnChained introduced a licensed mental health therapist to be a part of every CTC program. The addition of a therapist has increased the cost of our program however, experience has shown us that this is a key component for a successful outcome among the youth we serve. UnChained currently subsidizes 60%-70% of the costs of the CTC programs offered in Juvenile Hall and schools and the addition of a therapist increases those costs further. Please help us expand the services of the mental health therapist to every CTC program we offer and ensure the best program outcomes and impact for our communities!

My dog Petey needed somebody who understood him. He was returned twice to shelter before he was 1 year old. I’ve always been the reject, too. I thought, “He’s just like me. I have to work with him.” He was a perfect dog, he’s just been misunderstood, like I have been. I’m now doing things I’ve always wanted to do, but never thought I could. It’s the best-scariest feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life.


Martina, 18 years old, Salinas


We Did It!

The 2022 campaign is finished. To see the campaign, close this window.

And please come back in November, 2023!