Humane program working with juvenile detention center to stop animal cruelty

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juviThe Humane Society of Huron Valley is reaching out to at-risk youth to educate them about the proper care of animals and hopefully stop the cycle of animal cruelty. The humane society was able to start the program in October thanks to a $44,000 grant from the James A. and Faith Knight Foundation.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley investigates approximately 500 reports of animal cruelty each year. “It is well documented that early abusers of animals often go on to engage in violence and other antisocial acts,” said Karen Patterson, director of Humane Education. The Humane Society is hoping to help break the cycle of animal abuse by reaching out to at-risk youth.

Every Sunday Karen Patterson and Alex Ball go to the Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They teach the kids there how to care for pets and give them an opportunity to interact with one of the shelter dogs. The program covers topics on pet safety, animal communication, caring for pets at home, showing respect and compassion for animals and dog cruelty.

The Humane Society hopes the program will benefit the troubled youth. “Our goals are to educate, and we want to rehabilitate too,” said Ball. “We want to show we have animals here that are always compassionate. They don’t judge, they don’t see jumpsuits, and they want to be loved.” The kids at the center love the program. “It’s a nice treat for them,” said Youth Counselor Kevin Lockhart.

The kids have been learning a lot from the program and have enjoyed having dogs around. “It just gives you that warm, cuddly, comforting feeling that you can’t get from a human,” said 14-year-old Unique. “Dogs just have it, they just have that demeanor about them. It helps.”