Teen Animal Welfare Enrichment Program
In January of 2014 St. Hubert’s introduced its Teen Animal Welfare Enrichment Program, a week-long day camp session for at-risk teenagers in recovery for substance abuse. Program participants, 14-18 years of age, from around New Jersey are undergoing residential treatment at Daytop Village of New Jersey. Daytop provides comprehensive treatment for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. The program is a “win” for the students, and for the animals. The students receive nonjudgmental, unconditional love from the dogs, and immediate positive reinforcement as their training efforts produce success. They also experience the benefits of working together to help others, while dogs awaiting adoption benefit from the additional socialization and training afforded by the program.
In this video, shot at the conclusion of the January 2015 session, participants and leaders discuss the ways in which the Teen Animal Welfare Enrichment Program has a positive influence on teens and shelter dogs.
One of the major components of the 20-hour course is a daily training session with dogs awaiting adoption in the shelter, designed and led by the Center’s certified dog trainers. Classroom time with presentations and open discussions on animal welfare topics, and volunteer activities to benefit homeless animals and pet families in need round out the course.
On the final day of the program, St. Hubert’s staff and Daytop counselors and residents gather to applaud the participants’ accomplishments during a graduation ceremony. Each team performs a training demonstration with “their” dog and talks about their canine partner, sharing information about his/her special individual personality traits, their progress in teaching and their thoughts on why the dog will be a good adoption choice for someone. Each student receives a certificate of graduation from the program, which closes with a celebratory meal with program staff.
St. Hubert’s hopes to expand the Teen Animal Welfare Enrichment Program, which will require additional financial support. We hope to be able to increase the number of participants and create an even bigger impact to inspire at-risk teens to stay strong in their recovery and continue their efforts to be a voice for animals.
For more information, including ways you can help support the Teen Animal Welfare Enrichment Program, please contact us at 973.377.7094 or [email protected].