Students at the Hillsides Education Center (HEC) partnered with a charity, K9 Youth Alliance, to help dogs living at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA find homes.
Seven teens were matched with shelter dogs and then spent three weeks teaching the dogs skills to help the canines get adopted, such as how to sit and stay. In addition, students were educated on how to be a responsible pet caregiver, the importance of spaying and neutering animals, and the importance of advocating for dogs living in the shelter
Their efforts were well-rewarded: Over the three weeks, seven of the dogs they trained found permanent homes.
The students also acquired skills beyond dog training: “The experience helped me learn how to be more patient and respectful of boundaries,” said one student. Another said that interacting with his two shelter dogs, Guerro, a Chihuahua mix and Giselle, a miniature pinscher mix, inspired him to be “calm, competent, and brave.”
HEC Director of Education Alicia Jennings praised the three-week course as being meaningful for the students on many levels. “It helps them develop confidence and leadership skills as well as process their own history of trauma all while helping the community,” she said.
The program culminated with a graduation ceremony where the students showed off their handling skills by leading their partner dogs though an obstacle course. They also gave speeches about their experiences, and encouraged the audience to open up their hearts and homes to the animals.
“These dogs have kind hearts and are loving,” said one student. “Please think about adopting one – no one wants to feel alone or left out in life.”
In a further partnership with the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA, the school is currently running a Read-A-Thon benefiting the Humane Society.
HEC is a nationally accredited therapeutic non-public residential and day school offering individualized education for students with social-emotional, learning, and/or behavioral challenges for children in first through 12th grade.
K9Youth Alliance is a nonprofit that strives to enrich the lives of young people as they help prepare abandoned dogs for permanent homes.
The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is a donor-supported, nonprofit organization that provides animal care and services for homeless and owned animals in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The organization is dedicated to promoting humane treatment and compassion and care for all animals.