Saturday, November 29, 2014

Canines honored for training received at Dalton youth detention center

November 25, 2014

There were no caps and gowns, or even a band, for a graduation ceremony Monday, but there were plenty of dog treats.

The morsels were enough, evidently, for Bella and Panda, a pair of hound-mixes who, through a partnership between the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia and the Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC), became certified “Canine Good Citizens.”

The dogs were celebrated for having completed 12 weeks of obedience training that earns them the American Kennel Club designation.


The ceremony was also an opportunity to honor the pups’ unlikely trainers — a group of youths from the detention center.

According to Bobby Hughes, director of the Elbert Shaw RYDC, the center has for several years housed a small number of dogs at any given time to help offset crowding at the Humane Society and provide the youth with an opportunity to connect with dogs and learn responsibility.

For the first time, this year a small number of students were provided the opportunity to work with Brooks to provide the certified training.

Every day, during recess, and once a week with the trainer, students worked to teach Bella and Panda.

Chrissy Kaczynski, an animal program coordinator for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, said the program — officially called “Rescue-2-Restore” — was set up to not only make dogs more adoptable, but teach children lessons they’ll need long after their stay in detention is done.


Kelly Lewis, also an animal program coordinator, said, “It also helps to alleviate depression and those kinds of issues that we sometimes see. We have kids, a lot of times, that are able to satisfy a need to connect thanks to the dogs.”


The graduation ceremony also provided an opportunity for one of the youth trainers to share his appreciation for the program.

“The dogs have made a big change in my life. I feel like I can succeed, now, thanks to learning patience with these dogs. I had no patience before getting in here,” he said. “I’ve learned that if you work hard at something, you can achieve. I love (this program). I didn’t think I liked dogs that much, but now I love them. I’ve learned how great they can be and I hope they go to a good place where they’re taken good care of.”


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