Daily Local News — Chester County SPCA starts partnership with New Leash on Life

May 28, 2014


Photo courtesy of Jack McMahon III Carrie, a pit bull, came to the Chester County SPCA after she was rescued from a drug and dog fighting house. New Leash on Life USA pulled Carrie, and three other dogs, from the CCSPCA to give them 12 weeks of obedience and socialization training.

By Chelsea Reyher, Daily Local News


Photo courtesy of Jack McMahon III Aretha, a border collie and Australian shepherd mix, was pulled from the CCSPCA and given 12 weeks of obedience and socialization training as part of New Leash on Life’s Second Chance Companion Dog Program.


Before Carrie, a pit bull, was rescued, she was living in a very small crate in a drug and dog-fighting house. Her leg had been broken, and she had seemingly never received medical attention.


Carrie was held at the Chester County SPCA, but she was under socialized, had difficulty walking on several surfaces and had no basic obedience skills. But in November 2013, New Leash on Life USA pulled Carrie from the CCSPCA to give her 12 weeks of training in the Second Chance Companion Dog Program.


“We placed her in our third cohort at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford (SCIG) Prison. She caught on to basic obedience within a few weeks but the socialization took about 12 weeks,” said Linda Loi, director of resource development & communications for New Leash.


New Leash on Life USA is a nonprofit organization that gives dogs and inmates a second chance. The dogs that go through the Second Chance Companion Dog Program are trained by inmates in Philadelphia-area prisons. New Leash on Life pulls dogs from shelters in the region for this program, and it recently entered into a partnership with the CCSPCA.


“I think it’s great for every aspect of the entire program,” said Ashley Dec, operations manager at the CCSPCA. “It gives the dog that they choose a whole new opportunity. The bond between an animal and a human is completely powerful. Certainly people that have never worked with a dog find out a lot about themselves and their capabilities.”


New Leash on Life has pulled three dogs – Carrie, Aretha and Abigail – from the CCSPCA. It focuses on pulling dogs at risk of euthanasia that have had difficulty being adopted.


“When you’re long term residents at the shelter, and it’s not looking promising … at some point you have to make a decision,” said Rob Rosa, director of operations at New Leash. “Supporting the dogs that are having a tougher time being adopted, we will take them into our program.”


Once the dogs graduate from the 12-week training, they are adopted out from New Leash.


The partnership between New Leash and the CCSPCA is two pronged. After the inmates have served their time, New Leash helps place them in an internship, and the CCSPCA has agreed to hire interns from New Leash.


“It provides an outlet for that particular person who would be entering the intern program. It gives them an opportunity that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Dec. “I think it has a positive influence on their future and it helps them achieve a lot of goals.”


Those interns already have experience with animals, as they have trained dogs through the Second Chance Companion Dog Program. The CCSPCA will have its first intern from New Leash by the end of the month. He/she will be doing things like cleaning kennels, greeting customers, working with employees and volunteers and doing enrichment training with the animals.


“Having an animal in general is a learning experience in itself, you learn about that animal but at the same time you are leaning about yourself,” said Dec.


And in enrichment training, the intern will be working with animals that have behavior problems and difficulty living in the shelter environment.


“The really cool thing is that prisoner in that program can directly relate to that animal,” said Dec.

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