Building a Pawsitive Future

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Making a pawsitive impact on the future of our youth is a new program from the Naperville Area Humane Society.

This is Iris. She’s a one-year-old pit bull who’s completed her basic training and is ready for adoption at the humane society. But before she was ready for her furever home, Iris was helping incarcerated youth become dog trainers.

It was all a part of Project Pawsitive Future, the humane society’s new Animal Assisted Therapy program partnered with the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville. For four to six weeks, youth at the center are learning how to train a dog, and picking up many other life skills.

“It keeps moral up, I know they use the dog through other therapy sessions with other youth who are not part of the program. And the underlying theme is to teach empathy. So when Iris left, the kids missed her, that’s showing that they care. And when the dog leaves, she comes back with these skills.”

Funk goes to the youth center once a week for duration of the program to meet with the youth trainers, who are chosen on good merit, and teaches them how to train the dog in basic commands.

Currently, Faith is the two-year-old mixed breed in the program and is being taken care of by the youth trainers at the center.

Funk hopes that Project Pawsitive Future will expand to eventually having more dogs and youth trainers.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports