New Leash on Life is one of what is proposed to be many, many community service learning opportunities for at-risk kids and their families. When kids get in trouble for their actions, it provides an opportunity to help diagnose and heal problems that may have caused or contributed to the choices the kids had been making.
The People’s Advocate, a nonprofit organization based in Southwest Louisiana, advocate against family violence and campaigns against cruelty. As part of that campaign, People’s Advocate Attorneys, Counselors, Social Workers, and staff represent children caught in the juvenile justice and family court systems. It became clear that many times a child will take actions with bad results as a symptom or consequence of what they have been subjected to, or have learned, at home. It became clear that kids needed real support and rehabilitation to help them learn new behaviors and new ways of thinking early in their lives if there was a chance for them to grow into productive adults who contribute to their community.
New Leash on Life pairs Calcasieu Parish Animal Services abandoned and homeless dogs with kids at risk for becoming repeat offenders. The program at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) has the dogs living with the kids 24/7 at the facility. The kids volunteer and then must be selected for the program by the JDC staff. Once in the program, the care and training of their dog is in their hands. The dogs learn trust, that life might actually hold joy again, that people are basically good, and basic obedience skills. Once the kids train their dogs to pass a basic obedience test, the dogs are then put up for adoption, becoming much more adoptable because they are now obedience trained, socialized, good with kids and other dogs, and happy to be with people.