ABC7 Solutions: K9 Youth Alliance’s Dual Mission Provides Training for Shelter Dogs While Helping Young Children Grow

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) — Los Angeles County animal shelters are overcrowded.

As cities try to find more funding and staff to meet an incredible need, there are nonprofits like K9 Youth Alliance that provide hands-on training for shelter dogs, teaching them better behavior through basic skills and also putting them in a better mental state. .

“It works their minds, and dogs need it too,” said Kelly Osburn, co-founder and executive director of K-9 Youth Alliance. “They need a whole lot of things to be happy and using their minds is one of them.”

What distinguishes its organization is its dual mission.

Youth from disadvantaged communities participate in a three-week program, working with rescue dogs and professional dog trainers.

Daily individual work where the student becomes the teacher.

“For our kids they not only learn dog training and clear communication and leadership skills around that, we have a graduation ceremony where they give a presentation about their experiences, they get the chance to show what they’ve learned to an audience of friends and family…and for them, that’s really empowering,” Osburn said.

Founded in 2016, K9 Youth Alliance has helped over 100 children gain self-confidence through the shared experience of training shelter dogs.

Now adult volunteers are pitching in, helping large dogs that don’t always show up well in a kennel.

Agnes Sibal-Von Debshitz of LA Animal Services explains why even shy dogs can benefit from the work provided by K9 Youth Alliance.

“When they get shy and nervous, they start doing these things, and it will help calm them down and so these kinds of programs really help dogs, but also when families adopt these animals, because then they have animals that already know some of the basic tricks, maybe some basic house rules, that will really help the animal,” she said.

In collaboration with LA Animal Services and the Pasadena Humane Society, K9 Youth Alliance enriches the lives of dogs and children.

“For kids, it might be from homes where they’ve never had a pet or they can’t have a dog because they’re in an apartment,” Osburn said. “That’s really why we started this program, so these dogs can get out of the shelter and these kids have a chance to have that love.”

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Jennifer R. Strohm