Both foster children and shelter dogs are simply looking for a loving home that will provide them with unconditional care.
These two groups are working with each other to help find their new homes in the Humans and Animals Learning Together, or HALT, program.
This 20-year-old program helps bring foster children together with abandoned dogs. HALT provides classes twice a year, so dogs and children can learn from each other. Children come from foster care, residential treatment centers, and some have behavioral problems or mental-health needs.
Children help the dogs learn obedience skills that can make them more adoptable. The foster children and at-risk teens learn patience, discipline, love and social responsibility while training the dogs.
â€œWe really stress kindness, we stress patience and we stress consistency with the animals,â€ said HALT President Candy Wansley. â€œItâ€™s not just taking a stroll in the woods with a dog. We are very frank with the kids. We tell them because they were willing to work with these dogs, these dogsâ€™ lives have been saved.”
Over 600 children have participated and around 300 dogs have been saved from euthanasia and adopted since HALT started in 1987.
â€œThese kids learn how to do something good and let it go,â€ said Kat Coy, HALTâ€™s agency coordinator. â€œThis gives them a sense of stewardship. They learn that yes, you have had a rough life but you can give back.â€
Photo: Chad Greene