Behavioral Rehabilitation Center

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In March 2013, the ASPCA launched the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC), a pilot program located at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey. It was the first and only facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation for severely fearful, unadoptable dogs, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding situations.

Due to the success of the pilot program, which had 237 graduates over four years, the ASPCA has expanded its program and built a permanent facility in Weaverville, North Carolina. The state-of-the-art facility can house up to 65 dogs at a time. It includes several teaching spaces where shelter professionals can learn how we treat fearful dogs, how our integrated care team works together to make rehabilitation successful and how they can best support shelter animals’ psychological welfare at their own facilities.

Homeless dogs of all ages and backgrounds are eligible for the program, as long as they meet our behavioral and medical inclusion criteria. Only dogs whose fear compromises their quality of life and makes adoption impossible are accepted.

The Weaverville facility has individual kennels, along with “real-life rooms,” designed to help dogs get used to life in home environments, outdoor play areas, and a large indoor training area. On average, rehabilitation requires 16 weeks of treatment. However, that timing depends heavily on the severity of each dog’s behavior problems and how responsive he or she is to treatment. Once the dogs have completed the program, most transformed graduates are placed within our network of partner shelters and rescue groups to be made available for adoption. We place a smaller percentage directly from our Weaverville facility.

One of our goals at the BRC is to help partner organizations elevate their own shelter behavior programs. Therefore, we collaborate with the ASPCA’s Learning Lab to share the lessons we’ve learned about effectively supporting the quality of life and psychological needs of behaviorally challenged animals. Our expert staff serve as advisors in the development and delivery of the Learning Lab’s interactive educational programs for shelters nationwide. These include in-person retreats and training at the BRC for select shelter partners as well as online learning opportunities open to all shelter professionals and volunteers. By sharing what we have learned and collaborating with other shelters across the country, we aim to maximize the impact of our work for some of the nation’s most vulnerable animals.

The Behavioral Rehabilitation pilot program is featured in an award-winning ASPCA documentary, “Second Chance Dogs,” which you can watch below or access for free on YouTube.

If you are located in the Weaverville, North Carolina, area and have a passion for animal welfare, learn more about volunteer and foster opportunities at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center today.

If you are interested in adopting an animal from the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, please see our North Carolina adoptable dogs who are looking for loving homes.