155266814There’s nothing worse than a frightened dog that is consumed by its own fear, but the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is out to change that. As part of a two-year research project, the ASPCA is hoping to free pets from fear at the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey.

The ASPCA says that their initial focus will be on dogs taken from hoarders and puppy mills, although some who have been used as evidence in court cases will also be welcomed to the new center. Kristen Collins, the director of anti-cruelty behavior rehabilitation and director of the center for the ASPCA, said, “Dogs will come from shelters across the country as well as from seizures involving the ASPCA. It’s groundbreaking and exciting. It’s the first ever facility that’s dedicated strictly to providing rehabilitation for dogs that are victims of animal cruelty.”

Once the dogs graduate from the center and are placed in new homes, they will be monitored and followed-up on in order to help with research. The new center is comprised of 27 kennels, an office, real life rooms, treatment rooms, and common areas. Most dogs will stay between six and eight weeks, but Collins says that each dog will be examined individually and a plan will be established based on their needs.

St. Hubert’s, a longtime disaster partner with the ASPCA, will lend two behavior experts to the center. President and CEO Heather Cammisa adds, “Fear and anxiety are major factors that can hinder a dog’s quality of life. If they are hiding in the back of the cage and they are fearful, No. 1, they don’t have a good quality of life and, No. 2, they are not going to be selected for adoption and when they go home, they are not really prepared to be the family pet that adopters seek, so this is just a win-all-around,” she said.

The center will work with about 400 dogs during the project’s two-year run, but success could mean the study is extended. The hope is to eventually include fighting dogs, and perhaps cats.

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