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​​​​What is Pawsitive Impact?

Pawsitive Impact is a non-profit organization that was established to help bring awareness to the power of the human-animal bond through humane education. We provide animal therapy as an intervention to at-risk youth, where both can connect and together learn patience, trust, empathy and success. We provide two educational programs: Adolescent Learning Powered by Humane Advocacy (ALPHA) and Reading Ambassador Dogs (RAD).

What is the ALPHA program?

The ALPHA program (Adolescent Learning Powered by Humane Advocacy) is a mutually beneficial program for at-risk teens and hard-to-adopt shelter dogs. This program uses humane education to improve the social-emotional health of at-risk youth by developing skills to become resilient, compassionate, responsible, and successful members of the community through training shelter dogs to become more adoptable.

The ALPHA program works with teens in local juvenile detention centers and other youth outreach centers. This is a five to six week program that meets three days per week. Twice per week, the teens work in pairs, collaborating with one another to train their dogs. The third day each week is spent engaging with guest speakers who work with animals or going on field trips to be exposed to animal related careers that they may be interested in, such as shelter workers, veterinarians, vet techs, and dog groomers. Our hope is that they will be exposed to a job that they could pursue and learn the skills necessary to become productive members of society. The main goal of this program is to empower youth. Responsibility and leadership are an integral part of this program. Once participants have completed our program, they are allowed to return to following sessions as mentors or peer leaders.

What is the RAD Program?

RAD, in cooperation with local elementary and middle schools and after-school programs, employs animal-assisted therapy to improve the reading and comprehension skills of struggling students. Under the current program structure, participants practice reading aloud to certified therapy dogs for 15 minutes, two to three times per week, for cycles of 10 to 25 weeks per year. Learning occurs in a very safe, non-threatening environment. Past results indicate a direct correlation between increased confidence and ability and the fact that the dogs don’t judge the children but just listen.

Many of the children who participate live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and are exposed to dog fighting, neglect and animal abuse. In an effort to raise more awareness around the value animals play in their lives, we incorporate an education component focused on humane treatment, safe handling and best care practices.

Where do you get your dogs?

Pawsitive Impact is currently partnering with the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento, CA to train dogs in the ALPHA program. This partnership benefits the local shelter by training their dogs to become more adoptable. Locally trained therapy dogs are used in the Reading Ambassador Dog (RAD) program.

How can I help?

There are many ways you can help our program.

  • Volunteer- We need volunteers to help supervise both youth and dogs in the ALPHA program. As a volunteer, you will partner with the Pawsitive Impact staff in mentoring, educating and inspiring youth. You will be involved in group discussions and participate with the students in the dog training sessions. While a comfort level around dogs is necessary, training experience is not required. Volunteers must commit to the entire 6 week program, which meets twice a week.
  • Dog Trainers- We are always looking for qualified dog trainers to help facilitate the program.
  • Guest Speakers- An important part of our ALPHA program is exposing youth to potential career paths relating to animals.  If you are in a profession that works with animals, we would love to have you as a guest speaker!
  • Financial Support- Donations are one of the greatest ways that you can help our program. Since we are a non-profit organization, we run solely off of grants and donations. We need your contributions to make our programs successful.

If you are interested in helping, please email You can also check out the “How You Can Help” section of our website.

How do I volunteer?

Volunteers are crucial to making our programs successful. We would love to talk to you more about this amazing opportunity. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at You can also check out the “How You Can Help” section of our website.

I’m interested in speaking or know someone who’d be great. Where can I find out more about those opportunities?

We are always in need of guest speakers to share their careers and knowledge about animals with our youth. If you are interested in being a guest speaker or know of someone who would be great, please email You can also check out the “How You Can Help” section of our website.

Who is eligible to participate in your programs?

Our ALPHA program primarily works with at-risk kids in juvenile detention centers, community centers and continuation high schools. The RAD program targets struggling readers at local Sacramento elementary schools with whom we have partnered. If you know of another organization that you believe would greatly benefit from one of our programs, please email

Can I sponsor a child in either program?

Yes, anyone can sponsor a child – individuals, groups and businesses. The cost to sponsor a child to participate in the ALPHA or RAD program is $500 which covers the cost of class materials, student evaluations and progress reports, branded tee shirt, transportation, daily snacks and graduation ceremony, certificate and luncheon. We welcome both full and partial sponsorships; we accept cash, check and online donations. For more information on how to donate please check out the “How You Can Help” section of our website or email

Pawsitive Impact is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, tax ID# 27-1080016.  Your donation is tax-deductible.