Occasionally, I review due diligence (legal documentation) at GlobalGiving for new orgs. Project POOCH (www.pooch.org) stands out as both innovative, compelling, and effective. Rarely do I see all three. It’s simple. Give troubled dogs to troubled kids who are in an out of the local jail. And yet, it wasn’t like the founder Joan Dalton had the idea pop into her head and then like magic it became a reality. There’s a "getting to plan-B" story in there.
Joan did a survey long before she had the idea. She learned that the #1 thing people gain from owning a dog is "responsibility and discipline." She archived the data. Later, when she needed a way to rehabilitate youth at the juvenile detention center, dogs just fit.
Some abused dogs need tough love, and tough kids need unconditional love. Why not let them work it out together?
Later, it seems they used the dog program as a carrot to get juvees to behave in jail. And along with the dogs, they started giving vocational training. Suddenly, people are working to receive training that in a less innovative program would have been a chore, and not a prize.
Another worthy note: Joan Dalton sold her house to finance this new organization at first. No one would give her money for such an untested idea. But like the parable of the pearl says, if you believe you’ve got an idea worth all the riches of the world, you should sell what you have and follow it.
Her letter of reference added:
"The program has such a positive influence for the youth and the dogs… As a retired psychotherapist, I know the vocational skills and the unconditional love the youth receive will benefit them throughout their lives."