Kids Helping Dogs Helping Kids – Pasadena Now

Luna gets the attention of her partner dog, Apollo. [Camille Stemmons/PCF]

Luna, a ten-year-old participant in the K9 Youth Alliance (K9YA), and her shelter dog, Apollo, recently participated in an obstacle course showcase as part of the program’s graduation ceremony. Luna and Apollo were among seven student-dog teams who graduated from the K9YA program, a local organization that was recently awarded one of Pasadena Community Foundation’s 2023 Animal Welfare Grants.

The student-dog teams showcased their skills during the graduation event on April 28 at the Boys and Girls Club Mackenzie Scott Clubhouse in northwest Pasadena.

Another student participant, Allison, also guided her dog Helsinki through the course with the help of professional dog trainers and volunteers who have been instrumental in the success of the program.

Allisson guides her dog Helsinki during the K9 Youth Alliance graduation showcase on April 28 at the Boys and Girls Club Mackenzie Scott Clubhouse in northwest Pasadena. [Camille Stemmons/PCF]

The K9YA program, which operates under the motto “Kids Helping Dogs Helping Kids,” pairs shelter dogs with local youth for a three-week afterschool training program. The innovative initiative allows these dogs to learn essential skills from their young partners, which improves their chances of adoption. Simultaneously, the students gain confidence, self-esteem, and leadership skills while learning the value of trust and relationship building.

Kelly Osburn, Executive Director of K9YA, praised the positive reinforcement and force-free training emphasized in the program. 

“Our experiential program allows youth and shelter dogs to learn and grow with the encouragement of our dedicated adult team members,” said Osburn.

Kelly Osburn, K9YA Executive Director, on left, joins Boys & Girls Club CEO Lisa Cavalier (center) & VP of Strategy & Impact Quartney Cervantes (right) at the April 28 K9YA graduation showcase. [Camille Stemmons/PCF]

The generous grant from PCF is expected to significantly contribute to the fulfillment of K9YA’s mission. 

Osburn said, “Thanks to PFC’s generous grant, K9 Youth Alliance will make significant strides in providing opportunities for homeless shelter dogs to get the socialization and enrichment they deserve, as well as offering growth opportunities for youth from under-resourced communities.”

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