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At Risk Youth Training Dogs

Updated on June 1, 2013

Project Second Chance

In Monroe, Michigan, a special type of charity works to reach out and make the community a little better place. It reaches out to ones that many in today's society would rather not think about: troubled youth who are sentenced by the court system to stay at a local youth center, and abandoned dogs.

What It's About

The concept began in a simliar program in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The founder, Marji, visited there and brought the idea back to Monroe a few years ago. Children at the youth center work with 2 or 3 rescued dogs for six weeks, being totally in charge of their care: feeding and watering, exercising, and training.

A dog trainer works with the youth and the dogs on socialization and a few commands. A counselor meets with the youth in round-table discussions twice a week. A rescue group works to select the dogs and match them with forever homes.

Each teen writes a letter to the family that will be adopting the dog. During the "graduation ceremony" the teen shows what the dog has learned and is presented with a certificate and recognition. Then the youth presents the dog to its new owner.

Happy dog graduates of Project Second Chance
Happy dog graduates of Project Second Chance

The charity hosts fundraisers to raise the money needed to set up and maintain kennels at the youth center, to pay for all of the training, and to pay the expenses of taking care of the dogs, as well as, to raise awareness of the program.


The youth learn empathy and responsibility. The dogs become more adoptable. Both get a second chance.

The youth have to earn the right to participate in Project Second Chance. Surveys are taken of the youth who are completing the program and data is collected. The youth center is supportive of the program as it has grown over the years. The graduation ceremony is sometimes the first type of positive recognition that the boys and girls have ever received in their lifetime.

The dogs are adopted through different programs, including a new collaboration with Pets for Vets. This special service is provided for United States veterans who benefit from having a dog who is helpful in their healing process - physically and emotionally - as they return to civilian life. Some of the dogs from Project Second Chance go to live with veterans. What a wonderful idea!


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    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      Obviously this is a good program for the dogs, but I don't think you can say enough about how important it is for the teens. It teaches them responsibility and they end up with a good pet they love. Excellent hub. Voted up and awesome.

    • farmloft profile image

      farmloft 5 years ago from Michigan

      One of the youth commented that his dog was difficult at first because she wouldn't listen to him. The youth had trouble getting the dog to pay attention. He said it made him realize what his mom felt like with him. The young man said his dog became a good dog because he didn't give up on her and he asked the adopting family to be patient with her, too.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hi farmloft what a beautiful idea and what a good Hub this was to read! Congratulations. Voted up and everything else except "funny". Actually thinking about the youths and the dogs made me sad. But happy for the "second chance"!

    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      What a wonderful program for both the dogs and the youth!