By Liz Wu, February 27 2012
Feel good story of the day: A juvenile hall facility in Texas is using foster dogs to teach its teens compassion, respect and responsibility.
The Victoria Adopt-A-Pet Center and the Victoria Regional Juvenile Justice Center joined together to launch the Dream Seekers Animal Rescue and Training Program, which seeks to teach incarcerated teens about care, safety and training of pets. The hope is that through this program, the kids will develop patience, tolerance, responsibility, accoundability, dependability and compassion. The program is an extension of a previously established community service program where the teen inmates volunteer at the Adopt-A-Pet center once a week.
Two of the participants, Devin Olguin and DeAndra Moffett, were featured in this recent AP story about the program and its impact. They are currently taking care of a daschund/terrier mix named Alice. From the article:
Every day, Devin is responsible for taking Alice to the bathroom; making sure she has adequate food and water; taking her to class with him; making sure she gets enough exercise; and, most importantly, providing her with love and attention.
Excerpts from Devin's journal tell the story of his growth as an animal trainer and the growth of his relationship with Alice:
Day 1: "Working with Alice today was wonderful. I already taught her how to heel, go to her kennel ... She's a real fast learner. She also knows when to sit on your lap and when to get off. I'm still working on her sitting."
Day 11: "Well, Alice loves me, and I love her 10-times more. We got a wonderful bond. She's got her paws on me right now wagging her tail. I'm really going to be sad if I have to give her up and not take her home."
As Alice playfully licked his hand, Devin said she has taught him responsibility.
"I don't see her as my friend. I see her as my daughter," he said. "She has really opened up my heart and made me a calm person."
After taking care of Alice, both boys said that she motivated them to get their lives on track. DeAndra is now interested in pursuing a career as an attorney and Devin wants to be a veterinarian.
Devin, who will be released this week, hopes that he will be able to adopt Alice. However, financial issues could prevent that from happening. After the article was published on the Victoria Advocate, a number of commenters wrote in saying they were interested in donating to Devin or the program to make sure he could afford to adopt Alice.
Commenter henryc82960 said:
I'm willing to help Devin adopt Alice if he keeps his nose clean and finishes the program. I think this is a very good responsibility teaching tool for kids that still have hope for change.
And commenter mofortune added:
We too are willing to contribute towards a fence and adoption fees for Devin whenever he becomes eligible to adopt Alice. It is important for both Alice & Devin to maintain the bond they have formed.
Those interested in supporting the program, can donate to the Dream Seekers program at (361) 575-7387.
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.
Topics: Juvenile Justice Reform, No bio box, Rehabilitation, Texas
Updated: February 08 2018