Joan Dalton, M.S.T.
Joan Dalton and Sasha

About Joan Dalton

Program Design

Program Operations

Kenneling Essentials

Joan Dalton
(503) 697-0623

Project POOCH, Inc.
P.O. Box 305
Lake Oswego, OR 97034

Project POOCH, Inc. - A Model Program for
Youth/Shelter Dog Therapy in Corrections

Consultation Services for New Programs

CREATING A CORRECTIONS PROGRAM for youths and dogs is challenging and rewarding. Joan Dalton, M.S.T., founder and executive director of Project POOCH, provides assistance for developing a program specifically tailored to your facility. Services offered include:

  • Issue specific consultations
  • Sample program materials
  • On-site and/or telephone support

Established in 1993, Project POOCH is a unique non-profit program that pairs selected youth offenders at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon with homeless dogs rescued from local animal shelters. The youths (guided by professionals) learn to groom, care for, and obedience train the dogs to prepare them for adoption to permanent homes. While they work with the troubled dogs, the youths learn to deal with their own issues.

Project POOCH is the first and, so-far, the only human-animal therapy program of its kind in the nation to be located at a juvenile correctional facility.

Its mission is to provide opportunities for youths in corrections to develop the personal and vocational skills they need to become responsible, productive community members.

FEES: Consultation fees are dependent on the time commitment, types of materials requested, and travel requirements for site visits. The average phone consultation fee is $75 per hour.

Research on Program Effectiveness

SANDRA MERRIAM, Ph.D. studied Project POOCH for her doctoral thesis at Pepperdine University. According to her research, the youths who participated in the study showed marked improvement in their behavior during their incarceration, and after release, their recidivism rate was zero. A survey of program alumni reported that they felt the offenders had changed and improved in the areas of honesty, empathy, nurturing, social growth, understanding, self-confidence, and pride of accomplishment.

To receive information and a condensed version of research indicating zero recidivism for Project POOCH, Inc., youths, please contact: Dr. Sandra Merriam at: