Los Angeles, CA— Today, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) brought a pilot version of the Teaching Love & Compassion (TLC)™ program to the youth and families accessing support services from the WomenShelter Long Beach (WSLB). TLC is spcaLA’s renowned youth program that aims to break the cycle of violence by pairing students with shelter dogs to strengthen their empathy and compassion for animals and all living things.

Today’s pilot program focused on building healthy relationships through respect, empathy, patience, and communication. Via small group activities and positive reinforcement dog training, participants practiced alternatives to the force, intimidation, and violence to which they have been exposed. Shelter dogs are relatable in this way as they too may have histories of abuse, neglect, or other forms of harm and violence.

“We discussed each dog’s background story and how those experiences may be impacting the dog today,” said Denisse Bernal, Director of Humane Education for spcaLA. “For example, we discussed how the dogs may be feeling and what they need to be happy, healthy, and safe.” Participants worked one-on-one with their dog or in a team with family members.

“Our partnership with spcaLA is a dual approach to compassionate intervention which will help both families and dogs find safe and healthy homes,” says Eydie Pasicel, Director of Youth Services & Outreach Education.

“spcaLA is dedicated to the prevention of cruelty to animals, and you achieve that goal by addressing violent behavior,” said Madeline Bernstein, spcaLA President. “Through our humane educations programs, like TLC, and our intervention programs, like Animal Safety Net, spcaLA breaks the cycle of violence and makes our communities safer.” The Animal Safety Net (ASN)™ provides housing for the pets of survivors of domestic violence so that they may leave a violent situation.

spcaLA regularly presents information about the ASN program for WSLB’s advocate trainings. Through that relationship, this new pilot program arose: “I wanted to work with WSLB and introduce this program because the population is especially relevant to addressing the cycle of violence. It is important for us to offer additional support to those who, by definition, are most impacted by family violence,” said Bernal.

About spcaLA:

Since 1877, spcaLA has been the premiere independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California. There is no national SPCA, parent organization, or umbrella group that provides financial support to spcaLA. Donations run programs and services including Cruelty Investigation, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and a variety of shelter services.

About WSLB:

The mission of WSLB is to eliminate domestic violence through compassionate intervention, education and personal empowerment. Since 1977, WomenShelter of Long Beach has helped thousands of families overcome the trauma caused by domestic abuse. WSLB is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Federal Tax ID #95-1644058.