Twelve new volunteers took part in a “k9 connection” two-hour Adoption Outreach Volunteering training class Saturday, July 15th, to help find homes for dogs at the City of Santa Monica’s Animal Shelter.

On their own time, these volunteers will now walk the individual abandoned shelter dogs, sporting orange-and-black “adopt-a-dog jackets,” to public places and parks to find someone willing to give the pets a new home.

“This [k9 connection program] is part of OPCC’s [formerly Ocean Park Community Center] newest program,” said Glen Zipper, project operations manager. “The adoption service started in January and 90 percent of our dogs are adopted through the outreach effort. There’s no substitute for actually meeting a dog on the street and getting to know him or her outside the shelter.”

Seventy adoption volunteers have already signed up and many more are needed. Walking shifts are available seven days a week, and volunteers can conveniently schedule their walks by logging onto a special online calendar. Most volunteers come from k9 connection’s online posting at Volunteermatch.org or word of mouth.

“I love dogs, I love to walk, and I love people,” says one enthusiastic participant. “It’s a perfect fit for everybody.”

An adjunct of k9 connection is “adoption outreach,” a more comprehensive three-week program for at-risk 12-to-16-year-old youths who learn to train homeless shelter dogs in basic obedience and also learn to apply the same lessons they teach the dogs to their own lives.

K9 connection is one of OPCC’s 11 programs in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles that provide food, outreach, emergency services, transitional and permanent housing, mental and medical health programs, battered women and children services, case management, job counseling, leadership training, peer support and in-depth preparation for independent living for over 10,000 homeless and low-income men, women, at-risk teenagers and children each year.

Information on k9 connection, (310) 264-5424 or www.k9con nection.com

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