Every dog has its day with EPIC program

Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's amazing to see what goodness animals can impart on humans.

And it goes well beyond viral videos of cute cats and dogs that can be found in your Facebook feeds.

The latest example is demonstrated by the EPIC Pals program, which pairs troubled youths and shelter dogs.

According to a story by Ruth Campbell recently published in the Southeast Missourian, the EPIC Pals program helps train dogs to get them more "adoptable." It also goes a long way to help take the edge off of their human counterparts.

The program is being offered to at-risk youths who have been in a Division of Youth Services facility or on juvenile probation. The curriculum, according to Campbell's reporting, focuses on achieving awareness; finding feelings, encouraging empathy, cultivating cooperation and dealing with decisions.

"The curriculum builds on the human-animal bond ..., so it's all about animals and developing messages based on things that have to do with animals to help increase these qualities in the kids, or help kids identify these things," said Shelly Wood, project coordinator. Every dog that has gone through the program has found its "forever home."

The Missouri Foundation for Health funded the program at $160,000 over four years.

Not long ago, the Southeast Missourian published a similar story on the "Puppies for Parole" program, that pairs dogs with adult inmates. The result of that program is that it fosters empathy in hardened souls.

These programs are terrific examples of the positive power of people and animals. Congratulations to those involved.

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