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About the Film

“Second Chance Dogs” explores the innovative work at the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, launched at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J. The Center is the first-ever facility dedicated solely to providing behavioral rehabilitation for homeless dogs suffering from severe fear and under-socialization.

Since 2013, fearful dogs rescued by the ASPCA and other animal welfare groups have been brought to the center, where they undergo an intensive rehabilitation regimen to reduce their fear and anxiety and help them cope with unfamiliar objects, sounds, living areas, and other stress-inducing conditions. The ultimate goal is to improve their quality of life and help them become suitable for adoption through ASPCA’s network of partner shelters.

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.

Due to the success of the pilot program at St. Hubert’s, the ASPCA announced in 2015 plans to build a permanent ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Weaverville, N.C. The 35,000-square-foot facility will be custom-fitted with individual kennels, outdoor pens and indoor treatment areas, and is scheduled to open in 2017. The expanded program will focus on innovation, education, and mentorship that will support the development and expansion of behavioral rehabilitation in shelters and rescue groups across the country.

Learn More
More about the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center
Common dog behavior issues

 

About Kristen Collins

Kristin Collins, Senior Director of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation, oversees the operation of the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, located at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey. An Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB), Collins works with her staff to design and implement behavior modification treatments to reduce fear and anxiety in severely undersocialized and mistreated dogs, making adoption possible.

Prior to working at the Rehabilitation Center, Collins worked with victims of animal cruelty as part of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team, where she conducted specialized behavior evaluations to determine the best outcome for animals rescued from dog fighting, puppy mills, and hoarding situations.

Before joining the ASPCA, Collins started her career as a private animal behavior counselor and group class instructor in 2000. In 2005, she joined the Richmond (VA) SPCA’s Behavior and Education Department and was responsible for designing and implementing behavior modification and enrichment programs for shelter dogs.

Collins holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior from the University of Illinois. In 2005, she graduated valedictorian and with honors from the San Francisco SPCA’s Academy for Dog Trainers. Her home includes two dogs: Wink, a ten-year-old border collie, and Toefu, a mystery mix from a Tennessee hoarding case.

 

About Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations, where profit is given a higher priority than the well-being of the dogs. Most dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, where they are usually housed in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization.

Dogs in puppy mills typically don’t get exercise or basic grooming. Some spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, while others are crammed in filthy structures where they never get the chance to feel the sun or breathe fresh air.

It is not uncommon for these dogs to live in cages with wire flooring, sometimes stacked up in columns, which can injure their paws and legs. In order to maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When breeding females are physically depleted and can no longer reproduce, they are often killed.

Puppy mill operators usually fail to remove sick dogs from their breeding stock. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects and congenital disorders, such as epilepsy, heart and kidney disease, and respiratory issues.

The first months of a puppy’s life are a critical socialization period for puppies — spending that time with their mother and littermates helps prevent puppies from developing problems like extreme shyness, aggression, fear and anxiety. But puppies born in puppy mills are typically removed from their littermates and mothers at just six weeks of age, sometimes resulting in fearful behavior and poor socialization with humans and other animals.

In order to raise awareness of the fact that most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, the ASPCA launched its national No Pet Store Puppies campaign in 2011.  The campaign highlights the fact that while many commercial breeding facilities are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), cruel conditions persist in them anyway due to inadequate standards of care that do not actually protect the dogs. To show consumers what it’s really like inside commercial breeding facilities that supply puppies to pet stores, the “No Pet Store Puppies” website highlights over 20,000 photos taken by USDA inspectors inside USDA licensed breeding facilities.  In some cases, the website links pet stores with the specific licensed commercial dog breeders that supply them with puppies.

If you’re looking to bring home a new pet, the ASPCA encourages you to consider adoption first. Know that when you adopt from a shelter, you’re saving an animal’s life — moving it from a life of suffering to a life of safety and love. If you have your heart set on a purebred animal, keep in mind that many purebred dogs can be found in animal shelters as well. If you can’t find what you want through a shelter or breed rescue group, please learn how to recognize a responsible breeder. Be sure to meet the puppy’s parents or at least the mother, and see where the breeding dogs live. Never meet a breeder at an off-site location, and never have a puppy shipped to you sight-unseen.

Learn More
What is a Puppy Mill?
The ASPCA’s Guide to Fighting Puppy Mills

 

About Animal Hoarding

Animal hoarding is a complex issue encompassing mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns. Oftentimes, animal hoarders display an inability to provide minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care for their animals, which can result in starvation, illness and death. They are sometimes in denial of their inability to provide this minimum care and the impact it has on the dwelling’s animals, household, and human occupants.

Signs of animal hoarding include not providing basic care for numerous animals; a home in deteriorated condition with a strong smell of ammonia; and floors covered with dried feces, urine and vomit. Animal hoarders often insist all animals are happy and healthy — even when there are clear signs of distress and illness.

Sometimes, animal hoarders set themselves up as “rescue shelters,” complete with 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status. Signs that a rescue group or shelter may involve a hoarder include an unwillingness to let others visit the location; not disclosing the number of animals in its possession; making little effort to adopt animals out; and continuously taking in more animals, despite the poor condition of existing animals.

Learn More
What is Animal Hoarding?

 

About the ASPCA

Founded in 1866 and celebrating its 150th birthday this year, the ASPCA® (The American Society for thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. The ASPCA was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. More than two million supporters strong, the ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA is a national leader in the areas of anti-cruelty, community outreach, and animal health services. For more information, please visit www.ASPCA.org, and be sure to follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

About Animal Planet

Animal Planet, a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world’s only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment.

Animal Planet consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 94 million homes in the US; www.animalplanet.com, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; Animal Planet L!VE, the go-to digital destination for round-the-clock, unfiltered access to the animal kingdom; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service, and merchandising extensions.