Launched in March 2013, the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, is the first and only facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation for fearful, undersocialized dogs, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding situations.
Dogs from ASPCA cruelty cases and from other animal welfare organizations are eligible for treatment at the Center. To meet inclusion criteria, candidates must be physically healthy, show no additional behavior problems (e.g., aggression toward other dogs) and exhibit fearful behavior severe enough to impact quality of life and prevent adoption. Once admitted, dogs undergo an intensive rehabilitation regimen designed to reduce their anxiety, improve their well-being and ready them for adoptive homes. “Graduates” are transferred to partner shelters for placement. Since launch, the Rehab Center team at our New Jersey location has documented their protocols and procedures as part of a formal research study. The ASPCA will share our findings with shelters and rescue groups around the country to help them rehabilitate dogs from similar backgrounds and save more lives.
In 2017, the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center will expand and relocate to a new permanent facility in Weaverville, North Carolina. The new Center will have a greater capacity to treat traumatized dogs and will also launch a new “mentor” program, providing research-based training for other animal welfare organizations. The expansion includes a dormitory and several teaching spaces where shelter professionals will learn about effective behavior rehabilitation techniques, as well as specialized socialization, enrichment and sheltering protocols. We are excited to maximize our impact by sharing what we’ve learned about helping behaviorally challenged dogs recover, find homes and live happy lives.