Pet Therapy Program

Dogs Bring Unconditional Love To The Residents Of The Detention Center

A unique and special program began on July 1, 2002, at the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center in Toms River, due to the foresight, ingenuity and dedication of the Administration and Social Service Staff to enhanced productive services provided to the Juveniles placed in this facility. They permitted Jeanne Richards, a Therapy Dog Incorporated Dog Handler (TDInc.), to begin volunteering her time to bring her two Rottweilers into the Detention Center twice a week to interact with the residents.

In the first few weeks that the older Rottie, Lady MacDuff, came to visit she would dance and do tricks for the children. Duffy became so popular with the children, officers, and staff, that on nice days she even goes outside and plays “keep-away” on the basketball court or fetch with the residents. As the years passed, Duffy and her niece, Pippin, have been able to sense when a juvenile is upset and will cuddle or lick him/her until their anxieties are lessened.  

 

Because of the success with Duffy and Pippin an additional Saturday Therapy Dog Program was added on January 6, 2007. The curriculum permits the children to experience different types of dogs, along with the expertise and knowledge of their numerous Therapy Dog Handlers, i.e., Caryne and Roger Lucas and their dogs, Mia and Kia, who have their CGC, Puppy Kindergarten, Obedience, Agility Certificates and are Therapy Dogs. Deb and Vince Migliore, bring their dogs, Jazz and Reba to visit with the residents. Both dogs have their CGC and are Certified Therapy Dogs. Jazz is also a Show Dog, Wining her first time out as an Adult under Judge Polly Smith, Winner's /Best of Winners/Best, Opposite under Judge Patricia Hess, and Winner's for a FOUR POINT MAJOR under Judge Nathaniel Horn. Bev Wenrich, who is a former Inner City Teacher, brings in her Australian Labapoos, Rufus and Fergie, both of whom have their CGC and are Therapy Dogs. The five handlers bring diversified personalities and life experiences to the children, along with their very talented and loveable Therapy Dogs. When the children realize that these adults are very compassionate and caring people who have interrupted their weekends to spend time entertaining, listening to, and educating them, a very exceptional bond develops between all involved. Their respect and appreciation is reciprocal and apparent.

The Saturday courses consist of the following elements to teach the children the basics of learning about dogs:
  • Doggie Etiquette
  • The Origin of Dogs
  • Grooming, Health Care, Nutrition
  • Training (sit, stay, down, leave it and heel)
Each week the children meet with these special Therapy Dog Incorporated handlers and their different breeds of dogs, each rotating once or twice a month. Upon completion of each session, the residents are given special certificates describing the program area they have personally completed. To bring diversification to the program, the volunteers also play unusual types of word games with the children. For example: The residents must recall from previous sessions what type of dog is described, why they were bred, where they came from, and what their favorite trick might be.

Our present goal for the program is to be able to teach the participants to train their own pets when they return to their homes, and in their future lives. Possibly to even pursue a career within the veterinarian fields, rescue, shelters, service dogs, armed services or police specialty dogs. The interaction between the young people, the handlers and the dogs provides a diverse and interesting activity for them during the week and on weekends that will generate a positive growth in their attitudes towards other people, as well as animals in their future years.