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Organization Mission

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

For 10 years, UnChained has served more than 350 youth who have helped train, socialize, and find homes for over 170 dogs — unleashing the youth’s potential one dog at a time!

The Big Idea:
Youth-Canine Learning Community

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

To broaden the impact of our innovative animal-assisted therapy programs, we are piloting a Humane Education program to build a learning community for Santa Cruz County youth through canine-themed topics, dog training, and community-service learning projects. This learning community will enable youth to learn from each other, improve relationships for youth and dogs, and inspire hope for their common future.

Our program includes 25 classes, 90-minutes each (to conform with lockdown restrictions; virtual as needed) covering dog training, the biology/science of dogs, relationship skills, civic skills, and more. To help youth recover from the added trauma of the pandemic and wildfires, UnChained offers the healing capacity of dogs.

Being with my UnChained dog helped me learn new things about myself, like I have more patience than I realized. I love my dog and I love making his life better.

Thomas, Santa Cruz, 17