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Youth Services Center

Canine Therapy Program To Launch Pilot Program Called "The Paz Project"


Weekly pet therapy visits have been an active program at YSC for almost 16 years, and these are our perhaps most dedicated group of volunteers. In an effort to align directly with our mission of public safety, in January of 2016, YSC intends to expand the program based upon a concept called "The Link," which refers to the established correlation between maltreatment of animals and community violence.

Some sobering statistics as cited by the American Humane Association, longstanding national experts in child maltreatment and animal welfare:

  • 88% of homes with substantiated cases of child abuse also had confirmed cases of animal abuse, and over 80% of juvenile-justice involved youth were previously involved with child protective services as victims;
  • 71% of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also threatened, harmed, or killed their companion animal;
  • Children who witness animal abuse are at greater risk of becoming abusers themselves;
  • And violent adult offenders were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have had committed childhood acts of cruelty towards pets.

The Paz Project

The youth and families served by YSC are those essential to target if traction is to be gained towards reducing violence, and this pilot will be named The Paz (Spanish for “Peace” and sounds like “paws”) Project – an initiative aimed at:

  1. educating at-risk youth about the devastating and multi-dimensional effects of animal maltreatment on community safety, and equipping them with resources and support so that they can choose to serve as change agents in the future;
  2.  identifying and offering clinical counseling for youth exposed to animal abuse – as victims or aggressors;
  3.  and providing youth with opportunities to experience the positive value of civic engagement related to community health and safety.

The Paz Project will do this by becoming an effective youth-driven/staff-directed foster and adoption vehicle for homeless pets. More specifically, select staff and teachers will voluntarily become certified foster parents for a partner animal adoption agency. This core team will be permitted to bring their foster pets to work, where during the day, facility youth will have the opportunity to participate in structured activities such as positive socialization, pet grooming, games, agility, basic training, feeding, and walking. And with proper judicial permission, select facility youth eligible for the Community Custody Program (CCP) but not yet released will be permitted to participate in supervised off-site adoption clinics held every Saturday morning.




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