Alternative Housing



Alternative Housing Program pairs special needs dogs with student interns.


The dogs in this program may have behavioral difficulties that may decrease their adoptability such as food aggression/guarding, fear of strangers or separation anxiety. Issues may include food aggression, a fear of strangers, and/or separation anxiety. The program is based on the premise that removing the dog from the stressors of kennel life and placing them in a homelike living situation where they are able to fully bond with an intern. The intern further assists the dog by utilizing a training program designed by a canine behaviorist that would offer positive reinforcement training tactics to solve the issue. In this manner, the dog would become more adoptable with increased interaction with a person, in a less stressful environment. At the very least, the animal’s quality of life would improve.

The Alternative Housing program has been designed by ACS canine care behavior team in consultation with Constance Dwyer, IAABC, Certified Animal Behavioral Consultant. The Adoption Coordinator works closely to monitor progress and begins looking for the right pet owner to adopt each dog. Each dog would have a behavior assessment that would identify the area in which they required additional training prior to being placed with a resident intern for a 12 week session. A dog would remain in the program until they were adopted.

At the close of each session, all results will are reviewed and evaluated by the team and Animal Behavior Consultant in order to chart the progress of each animal and to make recommendations to refine the program. The ACS Advisory Committee also reviews the results and make recommendations quarterly. The Committee comprises Jan Scarlett, DVM, Professor of Epidemiology; Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program; Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine; Denise Drabeck, Ph.D, On-Line Instructor, Humane Society University, Washington, D.C., School of Continuing Education; and Constance Dwyer, IAABC, Certified Animal Behavioral Consultant.

To date ACS has had impressive results with having 21 of the 22 dogs in the program placed into loving, forever homes.