PRIORITY Paws: 2013 in Review

2013 was another year of growth for ARLP’s PRIORITY Paws program, which brings therapy Rottweilers and pit bulls to youth in order to promote humane attitudes toward animals and people. Programs such as PP are what ARLP is all about: not just pulling dogs from shelters one at a time, but also working hard in our community to make sure the next generation of dog owners has the tools and knowledge to do things a little differently. A little better.

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The dogs bring smiles to [the kids’] faces, and it's so rewarding to be a part of that.” – Sarah L.

ARLP’s supporters and volunteers enabled PRIORITY Paws to serve roughly 340 youth in crisis this year. That’s 340 youth who will face their future with a new respect for dogs – especially our beautiful breeds – and for themselves, as custodians of animals they encounter in the future.

Being a part of PRIORITY Paws brings me happiness…[We’re] sharing our life book with one another, learning how to trust.” – Harmony G.

The past year saw new partnerships and new supporters. We began partnering with Ain Dah Yung in February in order to serve St. Paul youth ages 5-18, which led us to new and innovative teaching methods that were both fun and informative.

I also remember an older youth who was very tall and seemingly tough who was afraid to be near the dogs.  At the end of the session, he asked if he could give Mercedes a treat.  He gave her a treat and asked to give another for a trick.  I told him how brave he was to overcome his fear...Sometimes we can't reach the youth, but the dogs can!" - Laurel B.

In August, our other facility – the Bridge for Youth in Minneapolis – received a grant that provided funding for PRIORITY Paws and enabled us to boost our services to twice weekly instead of once. This funding is very exciting for ARLP as it also comes with formal evaluation of the success of the program, which we hope to share with our supporters next year.

Tally wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the compassionate action of many people...Serving as a therapy dog team for PRIORITY PAWS lets us pass on all that love and compassion to kids at the Bridge. I find it sweetly appropriate that Tally, who went so long without a safe home of her own, can bring a bit of comfort to kids [in a similar situation].” – Ruth P.

And in September, we were honored to be included in the ABCDOG golf event, which raised a large amount of money to ensure PRIORITY Paws’ continuation.

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At this time of year we also reflect on the outstanding new teams that have joined us this year, each of whom bring exciting new skills and stories to our groups. And of course, we remember the teams who have retired from PRIORITY Paws, whose gifts will be sorely missed.

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As we look forward to continuing our humane programming in 2014, we want to say – simply but sincerely – thank you to everyone who has supported PRIORITY Paws in 2013. Your support means the world to ARLP and those we serve!

These kids are amazing the way they process negative experiences and for a large part have gained insight and wisdom (at an early age) from those experiences. I suspect they have a good shot at being even more amazing than they already are. [Sometimes] I suspect I walk away with more than I brought.” – Seth W.

For more information on PRIORITY Paws, contact Kellie at education@arottalove.org.

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