A friend of mine told me that his cousin currently takes part in a 3-month program in Philadelphia where teenagers learn to overcome certain fears or work on aggressive behavioral issues – by working with shelter dogs. This piqued my interest: I know that animals are used in special therapy and training programs with children and young people, and are very successful.
The story of his cousin motivated me to look for programs where teenagers and dogs have the chance to work together and benefit from each other, and I found K9 Connection, a 501(c)(3) project of OPCC in Santa Monica, CA. It’s an experience-based program which educates and inspires at-risk teens through bonding with and training homeless shelter dogs in basic obedience and developing the skills to become adoptable.
We had the great pleasure of video chatting with Flo Stueck, Project Manager at K9 Connection. Flo introduced us to her organization’s work and answered questions including: Who can apply for K9 Connection’s services and who are considered at-risk teens? What are the key topics students learn? What kinds of things do they do to raise awareness about their organization? Flo also shared with us some of the more challenging aspects of her job and their upcoming events.
About the interviewee: Flo volunteered at The Pasadena Humane Society with their mobile adoption team socializing the animals, and has also worked with Labrador Rescue and The San Francisco Humane society in the Bay area.
She has run two companies that focus on safely shipping animals throughout the globe, and owned a dog walking and pet shipping consulting business in New York City. Currently she volunteers with WLA Animal Services. A few years ago she moved to Venice and rescued Dunkin, a black Labrador/Golden Retriever. Dunkin is CGC certified and in training to be a therapy dog as well!
Visiting the k9 connection “Links” page to find important resources including:
West Side German Shepherd Rescue www.wgsr.org
Los Angeles Animal Services www.laanimalservices.com
Facebook: k9 connection
We also interviewed Erica from PEP last year – her organization visits schools and teaches lessons about responsible pet owner ship.