Humane Rescue Alliance Participates in ASPCA Learning Lab Program to Help Behaviorally-Challenged Shelter Dogs

Newly launched Learning Lab at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center provides critical training to help homeless dogs nationwide
September 14, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Humane Rescue Alliance today announces its partnership with the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) to participate in their Learning Lab program. The program, based at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Weaverville, North Carolina, teaches scientifically-based rehabilitation techniques and sheltering protocols to help homeless dogs overcome behavior that prevents their adoption.

The Humane Rescue Alliance is among the first animal welfare agencies to participate in the ASPCA Learning Lab program and will be applying key learnings to integrate behavioral and psychological support for homeless dogs into its entire sheltering operation. As part of the Learning Lab, shelter professionals from select animal welfare organizations visit the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center and participate in a four-day workshop where they learn effective protocols and best practices to enhance the shelter’s existing behavioral health support system for homeless dogs. Additionally, the program offers a separate training focused on rehabilitating severely fearful and undersocialized dogs by teaching scientifically sound techniques to help acclimate them to everyday situations that can induce trauma and distress.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the ASPCA on this lifesaving program designed to help extremely fearful dogs become adoptable,” said Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance. “In addition to helping us place more dogs who might not have been adoption candidates, the Learning Lab will also benefit all dogs in our care as we apply what we learn to enhance our care protocols.”

“The ASPCA is delighted to have Humane Rescue Alliance on board to participate in this newly launched Learning Lab program,” said Dr. Katherine Miller, Senior Director of the ASPCA Learning Lab program. “Our ultimate goal is a vibrant network of shelter partners who generate breakthrough ideas and share advances with each other, ensuring the continual elevation of behavioral healthcare in animal shelters.”

The ASPCA Learning Lab launched in 2018 at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, the first-ever permanent facility dedicated to the rehabilitation and study of extremely fearful, unadoptable homeless dogs, most of whom are victims of cruelty or neglect. As the Learning Lab program evolves, the ASPCA plans to develop a national network of partner organizations that can share learnings and best practices and serve as specialized behavioral rehabilitation hubs in their communities.

The work of the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center is showcased in an award-winning ASPCA documentary, “Second Chance Dogs”, which is available on For more information on the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, please visit

About the Humane Rescue Alliance

The Humane Rescue Alliance has protected and served the animals of the community for more than 145 years and serves thousands of animals annually. The broad range of programs offered include: rescue and adoption, humane law enforcement, low-cost veterinary services, animal care and control, behavior and training, spay-neuter services, humane education, and many others. The organization is dedicated to ensuring the safety and welfare of all animals, bringing people and animals together, and working with all communities to support these relationships. HRA is based in Washington, DC, the only major urban area in the country that has all of its animal protection programs and services unified in one organization, making the Humane Rescue Alliance a model for the nation.