For People, For Dogs, For Good.

Baltimore Pooch Camp

our children

At A Glance

our mission

  Want to learn more about the challenges youth face ?



Community Violence: The Effects on Children and Teens 

US Department of Veteran Affairs


The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Psychology Today (2011)

The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colorado (2009)

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2008)

PTSD Research Quarterly (2008)​

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Baltimore Pooch Camp is focused on providing young people in Baltimore City and the surrounding areas, the tools & empowerment needed to break through their unique life circumstances & learning challenges by training & bonding with homeless dogs. The program enables the teens to increase their emotional intelligence- finding self esteem, self determination and empathy while they in turn enable homeless dogs to develop the skills to be adopted into permanent loving homes.

​Imagine being a teenager with no sense of direction, belonging, or purpose. Neglected, school troubles, in and out of the court system, and no bright "future" to speak of.

The program seeks to pair at-risk teens with shelter dogs needing training to increase their chances of adoption. While teaching their partner dog basic obedience, the dogs can open the heart and mind of the youth to feelings of empathy, patience, pride, responsibility, and loving affection that the youth had not experienced in their childhood or adolescence. With approximately 1.2 million dogs euthanized in shelters annually, and thousands of young people in danger of falling through the cracks, a proactive approach that nurtures the positive, underdeveloped capacities in challenged teens -- while giving shelter dogs a second chance -- offers one innovative solution to two seemingly insurmountable challenges.

There are many stories about the amazing healing powers that companion animals provide. The effects are often dramatic in the most vulnerable populations. This program provides a safe haven for teens and shelter dogs to get a new lease on life. Through their interaction with the animals, the teens gain life-changing experiences such as learning accountability, positive reinforcement over abuse, patience, social skills, goal setting, and -- perhaps most importantly -- empathy; while the dogs receive obedience training that increases their chances of adoption. Additionally this program has the potential to place shelter dogs at risk of euthanasia in loving, permanent homes. Our program plans to provide long-term commitment to its participants. After the program's completion, the graduates are supported by our staff and volunteers in fulfilling their dreams and goals. Some of the graduates go on to become peer leaders and assist new students entering the program.

A recent study in the field of Human Animal Interaction (HAI) has demonstrated the positive effects of a similar program running in California. Researcher and clinical psychologist Jessica Thomas teamed up with K9 Connection to study the ways these intervention methods can improve the lives of at-risk youth. The study took place over one year (during the 2012-2013 school year) with all consenting youth at K9 Connection. The teens were observed before they began the program and again three weeks after completion. This study focused on the human-animal interaction and its outcome on the participant's social, emotional, and empathic capacities. Juvenile offenders often lack the emotional tools necessary for healthy social functioning. Typically learned through healthy attachments in childhood, these skills can influence how children view themselves, perceive the world and relate to others. The study demonstrated that youth involved in the K9 Connection showed significantly more developed social and emotional abilities after completing the program, including:

  1. Increased emotional intelligence -- the ability to recognize and express emotions, understand and relate to others, and better cope with stress.
  2. Decreased self-serving/anti-social behavior -- such as blaming others, denying or minimizing one's own responsibility in a situation, and always assuming the worst. For at-risk youth, these behaviors may have developed from poor attachment models (such as parents or caregivers).
  3. Increased empathy -- awareness, understanding, and an appreciation for the feelings of others.

​Join us and help make a difference in the life of a child and a dog.  

    Andrew Foster, Founder & Dog Lover