What is K9 Youth Alliance?
K9 Youth Alliance is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Our programs are based in the greater Pasadena area. We partner with youth service providers and animal shelters to bring homeless dogs and young people together for immersive programs of learning, enrichment and empowerment.
How did K9 Youth Alliance get started?
Co-founders Karen Rosen and Kelly Osburn met while participating in a similar program, k9 connection, on LA’s Westside. Inspired by their experiences and impressed with the transformative power of the program, they enlisted the help of k9 connection’s founders Katherine Beattie and Pat Sinclair to bring a similar program to LA’s east side.
What happens in program?
Our in person programs typically run for two hours a day, M-F, for three weeks at a time. Students work one on one with their dog-partner, teaching him or her basic behaviors, tricks, and agility. Students also participate in group activities centered on humane education, animal safety, animal advocacy, and personal development.
Our virtual programs can be customized as needed to include our full three-week curriculum or select one-day modules. During our virtual programs, our kids receive a custom K9YA dog training kit with tools, tips, and a realistic stuffed dog. After learning from a professional dog trainer, our students then work virtually with foster dogs and their parents to teach these parents basic obedience and agility training for their dogs.
All programs end with a graduation ceremony where students give a presentation about their experiences and showcase what they and their dog have learned.
How many programs do you have in a year?
We have a minimum of 3 programs each year. As a grassroots organization, we are gradually expanding the number of programs we hold. Our goal is to maintain high-quality, high-impact programs as we grow our capacity to serve.
What is your dog-training philosophy?
Our dog training instructors use only force-free, rewards-based dog training methods. Our emphasis is on the process – a two-way communication between student and dog where empathy, problem solving, and patience are key. Success hinges on building trust and clear communication.
Do students adopt the dogs they work with?
Typically no. Many of our students live in homes or situations where they are unable to have pets. The dogs in our program remain in the shelter and adoptable. In fact, many students will work with more than one dog because their original dog-partner was adopted or rescued. And while it is always hard to say goodbye, it allows our students the chance to help another dog live a happier life while they wait for their forever home.
Who runs the program and do you need volunteers?
Our program staff includes: a program director, a dog training instructor, an educational facilitator, a dog handling/transportation assistant, and LOTS of volunteer mentors. Mentors work one on one with student-dog teams, encouraging them in their process of self-discovery. Mentors are a VITAL part of the program and make a significant impact on the students and the dogs they work with. If you are interested in learning more and being a part of our team, please complete our volunteer application here.
How do you know you are making a difference?
While quantitative research on human-animal activities is still in its early stages, there is evidence to show high-quality interventions like K9 Youth Alliance do make a difference. In 2013, researcher Jessica Thomas at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology studied data collected from k9 connection’s programs over the course of a year. Thomas found that participation in the program resulted in increased empathy, self-awareness, and emotional IQ, and decreased antisocial and self-serving perceptions.
K9 Youth Alliance collects anonymous surveys from students at the end of each program to gauge its impact and continue to refine the program. In the words of one K9 Youth Alliance graduate, “Thank you for accepting me! I love all of you guys like a family. Can't wait to come back next year as an intern.”
Dogs who have not been adopted are eligible for future programs, and we continue to advocate for their adoption. Shelter staff and volunteers tell us that being able to tell a potential adopter that a dog has worked with a young person in a group of other dogs goes a long way to getting him or her a second look and finding a family.
Who runs the organization and how are you funded?
K9 Youth Alliance is governed by a diverse, all-volunteer, working board of dedicated, talented individuals. Our board members make an annual financial commitment to the organization and are responsible for fundraising and fiscal stewardship. A public charity, K9 Youth Alliance accepts individual donations, holds several fundraising events throughout the year, actively promotes corporate sponsorship opportunities, and has begun to seek additional funding through foundation grants.