Program Benefits At-Risk Youth and Shelter Dogs

10-month-old Max has been in the program for about four weeks now. Photo: Glenn Landberg

10-month-old Max has been in the program for about four weeks now. Photo: Glenn Landberg

There are few bonds stronger than the one between a child and a dog.

EPIC Pals (standing for Early Prevention Impacts Community) is a program that's taking advantage of that special relationship and helping both at-risk youth and shelter dogs. The program helps the kids improve their communication skills and better manage their emotions, preparing them to re-enter their community. They get to work with the dogs, helping teach the dogs basic cues and manners, as well as helping to socialize them.

The EPIC Pals program is being offered to at-risk youth in Missouri. Most of the kids have been in a Division of Youth Services facility or on juvenile probation, and are at risk of getting into trouble again. EPIC's mission is to reduce youth substance abuse, and also works to prevent bullying and increase the kids' problem-solving and decision-making skills. There is a significant focus on the human-animal bond, and the kids have plenty of time to play with and spend time with the dogs.

The dogs used in the program come from the local shelter and live in shelter-approved foster homes for the duration of the program. Even if the dogs are adopted before the end of the program, they still complete the full EPIC program. The kids get to see the fruits of their labor as the dogs are adopted-- so far, every dog that has gone through the program has found a forever home.

Read more. 


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