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Nov 9 - Dec 31, 2023



UnChained provides California’s Central Coast youth with the opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth while training homeless dogs in need of adoption.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Clara Counties, UnChained teaches youth how to train homeless dogs in basic skills, manners and socialization, helping the dogs become adopted into permanent homes while the youth learn valuable life skills.

The Big Idea

Running a pilot program with Rancho Cielo to foster dogs on-site during our eight-week program holds immense importance for several reasons. Firstly, it significantly reduces the stress experienced by the dogs. Eliminating the need for transportation minimizes the disruption to their routines, allowing them to adjust more easily and maintain a sense of stability.

Secondly, housing the foster dogs on-site eliminates the logistical challenges of transporting them to and from multiple foster homes. This not only simplifies operations but also promotes eco-friendliness by reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of on-site fostering enables us to allocate resources more efficiently, directing funds towards other aspects of the program.

Moreover, having the dogs on-site enables them to engage in skill-building activities and bonding time with the youth participants outside of class hours. And in return allows us to serve more youth than we have before.

Unchained has been among our most popular and successful programs with our youth population since we implemented the program and its impact in our facility and in the lives of the youth who participate in the program cannot be overstated. We have enjoyed numerous benefits from providing Unchained program services for the youth at our facility. Those youth who engage in the program demonstrate notable progress in their awareness of self and others, increased confidence, and improved interpersonal skills. Additionally, the youth who complete the program frequently report they feel they have grown their patience and enhanced their abilities to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. These new or expanded skills and abilities enable justice-involved youths to cope with challenges and stressors in a healthier manner and often leads to greater participation in other important rehabilitative programs and services.

- Isabel Anderson