Project POOCH's mission is to provide opportunities for youth in corrections to develop the personal and vocational skills they will need to become responsible, productive members of the community. Incarcerated youth learn patience, compassion and responsibility by caring for, training and finding adoptive homes for shelter dogs.
Project POOCH works with two at-risk populations: incarcerated youth and homeless dogs. Project POOCH accepts dogs who need training and socialization so they can be adopted, and youth who want to turn their lives around. Youth and dogs at Project POOCH often come from a background of abuse and neglect. For some youth and dogs, this relationship is a first experience of unconditional love, and it helps them develop the self-confidence and hope they need to build future relationships.
The relationships, emotional support and mutual trust and friendship established between the trainers and their dogs are pivotal to the success of the program. Youth practice the principles of positive reinforcement and reward-based dog training. The dogs learn to be well behaved companions. As the trainers manage their dogs, they learn how to manage their own behavior and develop emotional maturity in the areas of patience, responsibility and compassion.
Incarcerated youth learn skills that are needed to become caring, productive citizens in the community once they are released from corrections. Increased skills and emotional maturity contribute to a youth's success once they release to the community, reducing the likelihood of them re-offending. Shelter dogs find loving, forever, adoptive families and are less likely to be surrendered to shelters.