ASPCA Opens Behavioral Rehabilitation Center To Help Animal Victims of Cruelty

New Jersey center to rehabilitate victims of puppy mills, hoarding, neglect
March 12, 2013

Madison, N.J.—The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the opening of the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J., the first-ever facility dedicated strictly to providing behavioral rehabilitation to canine victims of cruelty, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding cases. The Center’s findings will be the basis of a research study that will be shared with shelters and rescue groups across the country.

"For some animals, the reality is that after a lifetime of neglect and abuse, the rescue is just the beginning of their journey to recovery," said Dr. Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. "The ASPCA recognized the need for a rehabilitation center that will provide rescued dogs customized behavior treatment and more time to recover, increasing the likelihood that they will be adopted. We partnered with St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center and identified the unique opportunity to utilize their space and collaborate with their behavior and care experts for the rehabilitation of victims of cruelty and neglect."

"St. Hubert's is proud and thrilled to work with the ASPCA on this groundbreaking initiative to help the neediest victims of animal cruelty and the untold numbers of animals in the future who will benefit from the lessons learned through this program," added Heather Cammisa, president and CEO of St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. "On behalf of all of us working in the trenches every day rescuing animals, we thank the ASPCA for investing in and launching this lifesaving effort."

Dogs eligible for treatment at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center will be those rescued from animal cruelty investigations conducted by the ASPCA as well as by other shelters and rescue groups. Dogs admitted to the Center will undergo an intensive rehabilitation regimen, with the goal of improving their well-being and helping them become suitable for adoption.

ASPCA Anti-Cruelty behaviorists will implement customized behavior modification treatments to reduce fear and anxiety in the mistreated dogs. Treatment plans will incorporate the use of scientifically sound techniques designed to reduce the dogs' fear of people and other dogs, acquainting them to unfamiliar objects, sounds, living areas, and real-life situations that can induce trauma and severe stress among this population. Working daily with these dogs, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty behaviorists will be supported by behavior and care experts as well as volunteers from St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. Dogs that graduate from the rehabilitation program will be placed within ASPCA's network of Response Partner shelters across the country, including St. Hubert’s, to be prepared for adoption.

The work conducted at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center will be featured in a research study evaluating successful methods and treatment protocols for rehabilitating undersocialized, fearful dogs. The findings will be documented by the Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team and shared with animal welfare organizations and scientific communities nationwide.

"Many shelters around the country are doing great work in terms of rehabilitation and behavior modification, but often times they are stretched thin and may not have the resources to work with animals who need more time," said Kristen Collins, director of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation. "Our goal is to not only rehabilitate the dogs we admit into the program, but to also collect data for our research study so we can share these findings with other animal shelters and rescue groups. We want others to be equipped to better treat those undersocialized dogs in their care so they can save more animals."

The ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team works with animals seized from cruelty cases, including puppy mills and hoarding situations, to help them recover from abuse suffered at the hands of humans. Additionally, the team provides evaluations and counsel on disposition and placement of animals held as evidence while their abusers are being prosecuted. This includes making recommendations for environmental enrichment to reduce the effects of long-term housing that may be needed in a criminal case. For more information on the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team, please click here.

Learn more about volunteering at the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center.