Rehab facility for abused dogs opens at Upper East Side ASPCA

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Monday, October 5, 2015
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Michelle Charlesworth has the details

UPPER EAST SIDE (WABC) -- Many of the dogs inside a rehab center on the Upper East Side were seized by the NYPD, and were victims of animal cruelty.

"Say you have someone who is afraid to go outside and you hand them a hundred dollar bill every time they do it, that's it, you take a scary unfamiliar person approaching them who gives them a treat, create positive association," said Victoria Wells, a CARE therapist.

Wells is part of a team at CARE, the Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment. Nutrition, training, love, natural light and positive reinforcement are all used in therapy.

"We see these animals come in skin and bones, bloodied, shot, then we see them turn around become healthy and trusting and it makes it all worthwhile," said Matt Bershadker, the President and CEO of the ASPCA

What the therapists do is convince these dogs that people are good.

"These dogs in many cases have never ever had a scratch on the head, a rub of a belly, they have never had a chance to be dogs -- for many this is a first time"

Bershadker explains there are a lot of tests these dogs must go through before adoption like exposure to the unusual and unfamiliar. Tests happen inside and outside, but their food and reward schedule stay consistent.

"Food, toys, all part of training them and caring for them to get them into a forever home," said Patricia Casey, a CARE nutritional therapist.

That's the goal, training these dogs in weeks, or in some cases, months to love and be loved. So far, the program has a 95% success rate.