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In March 2013, the ASPCA launched the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, 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 treated more than 300 dogs 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 a dormitory and several teaching spaces where shelter professionals can learn our behavior modification techniques, to further help behaviorally challenged dogs across the country become suitable for adoption.

Homeless dogs of all ages and backgrounds are eligible for the program, as long as they are physically healthy and meet our behavioral inclusion criteria. Only dogs whose fear is so severe that it compromises their quality of life and makes adoption challenging or 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 where our behaviorists and trainers work with dogs in the program. On average, rehabilitation requires 13 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, the transformed graduates are placed within our network of partner shelters and rescue groups to be made available for adoption.

One of our goals is to help partner organizations save more lives. Our new Learning Lab program will enable us to share the lessons we’ve learned about improving behaviorally challenged dogs’ quality of life and preparing them for adoption. This program for shelter professionals includes online resources to help organizations integrate best practices into their own operations, as well as an on-site, experiential training program at the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center for select shelter partners to see and learn from our work in action. 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 dogs.

The Behavioral Rehabilitation pilot program is featured in an award-winning ASPCA documentary, “Second Chance Dogs,” which is currently available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

If you are located in the Weaverville, North Carolina, area and are interested in volunteering at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, please go to the “Volunteer” tab above for more information.

If you are interested in adopting an animal from the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, please go to the “Latest News” tab above for special Adoption Spotlights for select graduates.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC). The BRC is the first and only permanent facility dedicated strictly to the study and behavioral rehabilitation of extremely fearful, undersocialized dogs, most victims of cruelty or neglect. In order to maximize the impact of our hands-on work with these dogs, the BRC provides research-based training for shelter professionals around the country. We rely on our wonderful volunteers to help with many aspects of BRC operations. Their dedication and commitment make our lifesaving work possible.

Location:

ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, located in Weaverville, NC 28787

Dates/Times:

Volunteer Opportunities will be available 7 days per week, from 10:30 A.M to 1:00 P.M. and 2:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Time Commitment:

Flexible, although we request that volunteers participate in at least two opportunities per month

Age Requirement: 

18 years of age or older

Volunteer Responsibilities:

Rehab Center volunteers assist with the treatment, enrichment and daily care of dogs in the program. Volunteer activities may include:

  • Assisting with behavior modification sessions (under the direct supervision of staff)
  • Serving as videographer or unfamiliar person to greet dogs during behavior evaluations
  • Preparing and distributing enrichment items
  • Performing daily tasks (preparing food/treats, refilling water bowls, doing laundry, etc.)
  • Fulfilling other duties as needed

How to Apply:

For more information, please email Judy Kao, Volunteer Manager, at [email protected]