Get a look at the hand-targeting training that helps abused dogs recover from their behavioral injuries
We’ve all seen the stories about innocent dogs being rescued from devastating hoarding situations and puppy mills, but where do these suffering animals go after they’ve been saved?
The Animal Planet special Second Chance Dogs answers this question, providing viewers with an inside look at the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey, a program dedicated to helping these abused dogs gain a new quality of life and find a loving forever family.
Second Chance Dogs premieres on Animal Planet at 9 a.m. ET/PT on April 16, in celebration of the ASPCA’s 150th birthday on April 10, but PEOPLE got an exclusive peek at some of the dedicated work that goes on at the Rehabilitation Center and insight about the program from the center’s Senior Director Kristen Collins.
In the clip, we see a dog going through hand-targeting training, a tactic the center uses to help dogs feel more comfortable around humans, and just one part of the center’s commitment to these animals, Collins explains.
Learn more about how this program helps dozens of deserving dogs from Collins below and by tuning into Animal Planet at 9 a.m. ET/PT on April 16.
How did you become the senior director of the ASPCA’s behavior rehabilitation program?
I was part of anti-cruelty behavior team that we have and that team goes with our field investigation and response teams, all across to the country, to do puppy mill cases and hoarding cases and dog fighting cases. I was on the team of behaviorists who assisted. We do expert handling for removal from properties, we evaluate the dogs’s behavior and we set up enrichment and simple behavior modification programs in our temporary shelters.
The things we were seeing out in the field, when it comes to the behavior of the animals coming from cruelty cases, all of that was the catalyst for the rehab center program. We realized that there was always a percentage of dogs who were not behaviorally-prepared for placement, because of isolation and under socialization.
The rescue from these horrible conditions is a success. The problem is, when you are talking about cruelty case animals, you take them out of those environments and they have sustained behavioral problems. They are terrified of all people, you can’t touch them, you can’t walk them on leash, you can’t expose them to everyday things. We were seeing there wasn’t an answer for those dogs. We needed help, time and space to take our work to the next step. We were taking care of their physical wounds, but we hadn’t yet been able to take care of their behavioral wounds. That’s why the rehab center was born.