ASPCA Gives Shelter Dogs a Second Chance in this Heartwarming Film
Dogs who suffer the horrors of puppy mills and animal hoarding often become highly fearful due to the terrible conditions and lack of love they have endured. This anxiety and fear can drastically reduce their chances of adoption and put their lives at risk.
I met with filmmaker and dog lover Kenn Bell and representatives from the ASPCA at BarkWorld in Atlanta recently. We were so lucky to be treated to a presentation about how they are dealing with these tragic Puppy Mill cases and a special screening of their new film “Second Chance Dogs”. There were very few dry eyes at the end of the film but they were tears of happiness and hope. We can all do with more of that.
“Second Chance Dogs,” which aired on Animal Planet and is now airing on NETFLIX, tells the story of the new ASPCA facility dedicated to giving abused and neglected animals another chance. Through innovative techniques, patience, and complete commitment, the staff at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center is moving these animals — once considered hopeless cases — from rescue to rehabilitation, and ultimately into safe and loving homes. This Center, launched at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., is the first-ever facility dedicated solely to providing behavioral rehabilitation for homeless dogs suffering from severe fear and under-socialization.
The gripping and beautifully shot film follows several desperate dogs in the program over a period of six months, including Alaskan malamutes and dachshunds. We saw their progress as they learned to be out of their cages on different surfaces, to be handled by people, to walk with a leash, to engage in healthy play, and to exhibit appropriate social behavior.
Spoiler alert: all the dogs in the film were adopted and found the perfect forever homes, hence the tears and celebrations at the end of the film. If you love dogs and are interested in behavior modification and uplifting positive happy tails like me, I highly recommend watching the film.
The Behavioural Rehabilitation Center may not save every single dog, but the odds of giving most a second chance seem extremely good so far. The Center has an 87% success rate, and all 185 of its graduates have since been adopted or placed with partners for adoption. The team is also collecting data for a study that will be shared with other animal welfare organizations, and inviting visitors from around the country to come to the Center to learn more. They will be expanding their program and sharing their techniques to help more dogs in need.
Before and After Dogs at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center
Dog Files and Kenn Bell
“Second Chance Dogs” was directed, shot, and edited by Kenn Bell of Dog Files, a talented filmmaker and animal welfare advocate. In 2011, Kenn developed the wonderful documentary “Hero Dogs of 9/11,” which aired on Animal Planet in both the U.S. and Canada. You can see the Dog Files YouTube Channel and videos here.
See more about the film and the ASPCA program on the film site here #secondchancedogs
As the ASPCA says, rehabilitation is great but “the best way to address animal cruelty is to stop it in the first place. In the case of puppy mills, there’s much we can and should do to understand and take a strong stand against them.”