A widely praised model shelter, Animals for Adoption, has recently under gone some changes. Our theme of “Dogs and People Working Together” is rewriting the rules of sheltering. Yes, we take dogs in and adopt them out. We also go beyond that to give as many dogs as possible functional roles that benefit the dogs, their owners and the community.
We have several unique programs where dogs help people such as:
- special needs children,
- prisoners who serve as trainers,
- veterans who need assistance,
- community members at schools, hospitals and other sites that welcome therapy dogs.
Intake includes identifying suitable dogs even while they are at municipal shelters, where they are at grave risk. Our partners arrange for fostering before they are transported to our Hudson Valley shelter. We evaluate which program below best suits each dog.
- Special Needs Children: A select group of our dogs spends six weeks at Green Chimneys, a nationally acclaimed school for special needs children in Brewster NY. We teach the kids to train the dogs. They gain self esteem and a new skill; the dogs become more adoptable. The bonding and affection is mutual. Every dog in the program (70+ and growing) has been adopted.
- Prison Trainers: Other dogs reside at a prison in Eastern PA where the prisoners learn dog training and behavior, and animal care. Prison officials find that these skills and interactions with the dogs provide a calming influence on prisoners and instill a sense of responsibility. The dogs are so well trained that they generally are quickly adopted after their residence there.
- Veterans Assistance: A few of our dogs with the most exceptional temperaments have been recruited by a veterans assistance organization that trains them especially for meeting the unique needs of veterans who have recently returned from war zones.
- Community Therapy Dog Work: We believe all of our adopters should be offered free training so that as many of our dogs as possible gain Certification as Therapy Dogs. That way many more of our dogs and their adopters can comfort those in hospitals and nursing homes, or help special needs youngsters in their individualized reading programs and serve in other ways.
- Canine Community Center: We also see the shelter as a broader community resource where all dog owners can interact for education and recreation. We are seeking to repurpose and renovate our training building to suit that larger community need.
I am very excited to have recently taken on new responsibilities connected with these programs, as President and Board Chairman. I look forward to working with our many supporters to create more humane communities for dogs and people alike.
President and Chairman of the Board