When the ASPCA's Behavioral Rehabilitation in Madison opened in 2013, officials were hopeful that they would make half of the dogs they treated adoptable. They have easily exceeded their original goal.

(Photo credit: ASPCA)
(Photo credit: ASPCA)

The Rehab Center is the first-ever facility dedicated strictly to providing behavioral rehab to canine victims of cruelty who suffer from severe fear and anxiety. Most of the dogs come from puppy mill or hoarding cases.

"There was a need to help dogs that were extremely fearful and not ready for placement in adoptive homes," said Kristen Collins, Senior Director, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation.

The facility has accepted nearly 200 such dogs since the launch of the program. Experts work with closely with the canines until they could be made for adoption.

The treatment process includes enriching them by using techniques to help reduce stress, as well as specialized protocols to reduce fears for situations they would encounter in everyday life. Many of these ordinary things would be no problem for most dogs, but they can be terrifying for the canine victims, who are often under-socialized.

"Things that are not scary to them, but that are terrifying to these dogs because they've never experienced them, like walking on a leash, being petted by people," Collins explained. "All of our protocols focus on very slowly helping them getting used to all of those things that they will experience in a pet home."

"After we've rehabilitated them, we move them to our partner shelters, we put them up for adoption, and they go home."

The Rehab Center works with St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison and Sammy's Hope Animal Welfare & Adoption Center in Sayreville for the adoption part of the process.

"We have found that we have been successful with between 80 and 90 percent of these dogs," Collins said.

The dogs welcomed to the ASPCA's facility have come from 40 different organizations across 19 states. The newest group of dog 'graduates,' who have completed their treatment programs, are ready to be adopted into loving homes.

Here is a closer look at the latest 'graduates':

  • Janet - (sweet & gentle Akita)
  • Patrick (affectionate Jack Russell terrier mix)
  • Nami - (young pit mix rescued from a cruelty case)
  • Dermott - (gentle Shepherd mix looking for a quiet home)
  • Mary Ann - (young Labrador Retriever mix)
  • Bud - (young Australian Shepherd mix)
  • Joe - (young hound mix)

The program has been so successful that it is now permanent, and the ASPCA is building an expanded facility in Asheville, NC.

"To learn everything we can about how to best rehabilitate dogs that are fearful and under-socialized. And then, to share what we learned with organizations across the country."

Find out more about this great cause by visiting the ASPCA's website and Facebook page.

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