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.”

Let’s all join the fight to stop Puppy Mills.

See our story about why we must fight to end Puppy Mills and tribute to Puppy Mill Survivor and advocate Harley HERE

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  • So awesome and inspiring! I’m a big advocate of the ASPCA and am also working with them on a post for this as well. This film just touches my heart. And how nice that you were able to meet Kenn in person!

  • “Second Chance Dogs” looks great. I’ll have to check it out now that it’s on Netflix. Thank you for sharing this! I wil also have to look for “Hero Dogs of 9/11″.

  • Great post!!! So cool that you got to meet the guy behind the documentary too!

  • Having adopted a puppy mill rescue who was kept in a chicken coop for 8 years breeding, I saw the consequences of the horrors she suffered. Every time I meet someone who bought a dog I want to scream. I do manage to sometimes say it’s unfortunate because they could have saved a life. This is not something I could ever stay silent about.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      Thank goodness you found each other. Kilo the Pug suffers the consequences of no safe socialization and 4 homes in 2 years and some sort of trauma. hugs S

  • Thanks you so much for this post, Susan!

  • Inspiring! Will absolutely be checking this out! What a great experience for you too!

  • What an inspiring film ~ I”m going to have to see if it’s available in Australia.

  • Baby R.I.P. I adopted from the ASPCA and I think they do amazing work. I do not have Netflix so will have to watch it next time I babysit as they have it there

  • The second video is especially beautiful seeing the transformation in these amazing dogs. Ruby was from a hoarder so this hits close to home for us.

  • What a great post! Stories like this always make me tear up with happy tears!

  • I missed this documentary on Animal Planet but I just saw in on Netflix. It’s fantastic!! They do amazing work at the rehab center, such dedication. I loved the 3 Malamutes best!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • I simply loved the video loved reading about their work. I hope the day dawns soon that puppy mills cease to exist

  • I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll put it on my “to watch list.” I hope that puppy mills become a thing of the past sooner rather than later!

  • This film is so inspiring and I can’t wait to see it! We love working with the ASPCA and we are so glad that they are featured in this great piece. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  • Such a great post.
    All mine are rescues from mills.

  • That looks like an amazing documentary. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Love the idea, I know our senior cats are second chancers who really feel they have landed on their paws!!

  • I’m so glad to see programs like this coming out on major channels! Not only does it spread awareness about the horrors of puppy mills, but it gives hope to pet owners. I think that most people are against puppy mills, but many of them don’t know what they can do about it. Very inspiring show!

  • I need to pull up this movie and watch it.

  • I just watched the trailer – what a beautiful place! I’ll look for this on Netflix this week. I think this is one of the major reasons so many animals cannot find homes -showing them to prospective families is almost impossible since they’re so fearful. These people that work at the ASPCA are angels!

  • This is so amazing. I will be looking for “Second Chance Dogs” on Netflix!

  • Great post! I’m so glad you wrote about this amazing film that we were able to preview while we were at BarkWorld. It was inspiring to watch and I am so excited that it’s now available for viewing on Netflix! I hope it’s wildly successful so it helps the ASPCA in formulating and implementing this program far and wide.

  • I watched this on Netflix the other night. I enjoyed seeing how much progress the dogs made!