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Loosen the Leash promotes positive behavioral changes in At-Risk individuals by developing the life-skills, compassion and self confidence gained through rehabilitating, training and grooming rescued dogs.
"Loosen the Leash is a creative intervention presented in an engaging, novel and safe process with the use of dogs being therapeutic. The hypothesis is that if one can learn these skills of behavior management and relationship management, they will have the self-efficacy to apply them to other human relationships".
-Dr Russell Hoffmann III, Head of Pediatric Psychology, Children’s Hospital, St. Louis-
Loosen the Leash (LTL) is a unique opportunity for incarcerated youth between the ages of 13 and 18 aimed teaching valuable life skills, providing vocational training toward the goal of reducing recidivism rates from juvenile offenders. Rescued dogs who are carefully screened,
live with and accompany a pair of teens throughout their day for 9 weeks. The teams attend class 5 days a week and receive intensive training and mentorship. The students, facility staff and Loosen the Leash track their behavior, academic and dog training progress daily. The curriculum cycles in 9 week sessions, adding new teen/dog teams each 9 weeks as well as retaining the most outstanding youth for further, more advanced training and leadership responsibilities. A minimum of 40 youth successfully complete the program each year. The curriculum is taught and practiced in the center where youth take over responsibility for obedience training and complete care of dogs, preparing them to be placed in permanent loving homes. The care and training closely relates to parenting skills as it teaches responsibility, compassion, patience while it also improves interaction with peers and authority figures.
"They develop the ability to care. They develop the ability to love. They develop the ability to be responsible for something when nobody has been responsible for them. What an amazing thing."
-Judge Jimmie Edwards-
Loosen the Leash is currently implementing Phase I of a four phase program. The first two phases fully employ a dog training program with youth who are living in the Fort Bellefontaine Campus, a medium security detention facility which operates under the Missouri Division of Youth Services. We provided services in 2009 at Hogan Street Regional Youth Center. The first phase focused on behavioral and academic improvements while dogs learn to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. The later phases will include opening dog training and care facilities that provide employment training, apprenticeships and career opportunities for at-risk youth.
- Cindy Vickers
- 314 323 2004
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