Dog Care Center As Job Training
Hale Kipa now has some four-legged friends in Kaneohe to assist its mission of helping at-risk youths, thanks to Paws for a Cause.
“We do a lot of different things for youths, mostly at-risk youths, but the one thing that we really had not yet built into a lot was vocational training,” explained Stacy Evensen, general manager of Paws for a Cause, and director of educational and vocational services at Hale Kipa.
While trying to look for options, Evensen discovered Virginia Woof Dog Daycare in Portland, Ore.
“I went to visit them, and I was very impressed with their job-skills training program,” she said.
She saw the therapeutic value of working with animals for traumatized youths, and she also realized that such a program could allow the private, nonprofit Hale Kipa to generate income to support itself.
“We’re largely funded by government contracts, specifically state contracts,” she said, “and that’s really a mixed bag. So we were looking for a self-sustaining business model.”
Paws for a Cause was born with funding help from the Hauoli Mau Loa and HMSA foundations, and it welcomed its first three dogs Feb. 16 to the Kaneohe facility. The program, which has dedicated staff and a certified dog trainer, will eventually be able to handle as many as 25 dogs, depending on their size.
But it’s not just a place for dogs to play around, Evensen said. “It is not 12 hours of off-leash play. That usually gets boring for dogs. They’re not going to be mentally and physically stimulated as much. We call this a doggie daycare and school because there is some training.”
She listed crate training, nose work and potty training as examples, as well as walking, one-on-one human time, and more.
Hale Kipa’s human charges won’t work directly at Paws for a Cause until April, but the future youth staffers will undergo a 12-week Animal-Assisted Health and Healing curriculum crafted with help from Chaminade University’s Genie Joseph. They will train in the classroom and work on the floor to learn different job skills, including customer service, conflict resolution and inventory management.
Paws for a Cause is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays at 46-178 Kahuhipa St., across from Windward Dodge. Customer rates are $18 for a half-day and $32 for the full day. Dogs must undergo an initial assessment before being accepted. For an appointment, call 235-0005, or visit pawsforacause.halekipa.org.