They didn’t fit into society or failed to live up to standards.
This might be a description of teens living in the juvenile justice system. Or, it just as easily could characterize one of the homeless dogs in the Youth With Faces PREP Dog Training Program. In PREP, the two groups meet, build skills and, along the way, mutually improve their outlooks for the future.
PREP stands for Patience, Responsibility, Empathy and Partnership – the principles at the core of this structured curriculum designed to benefit both teen and dog. Youth are assigned a homeless dog to train, increasing the animal’s adoption potential and teaching them valuable life lessons.
Teaching New Tricks
- Therapeutic benefits. By steadily working through the dogs’ challenges and seeing the progress that results, the youth clearly witness the power of committing to something or someone – and sticking to it. They experience a living being looking to them for guidance – without prejudice for what they may have done in the past. It is an invaluable lesson in responsibility, relationships and leadership.
- Violence prevention. Working with the dogs provides a hands-on lesson in gentle leadership and addressing challenges with empathy and compassion. Research documents the benefits of using animals in treating victims and violence prevention.
- Pet-related job skills. Youth in PREP gain a certification and the skills for employment at dog walking services, shelters and other pet-related businesses. We offer post-release support to connect graduates with job leads once they are back in the community. Our graduates that have secured post-release jobs as vet techs, as well as in pet stores and shelters.
- Job readiness skills. The curriculum also includes interview training and job searches with applications for any job track.