Brooklyn Bark Talks

Therapy Dogs Make a Major Difference for Underserved Kids

Posted by Helen Bowers on Jan 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

"Always, no matter what, show everything love because there is no worse feeling Fair-shake-for-youth.pngthan feeling not loved.”

These were the words of 13-year old Brianna at the end of a 10-week program with A Fair Shake for Youth.   Led by a Fair Shake instructor, each week Brianna and her classmates worked hands-on with three therapy dogs and their guardians. 


They practiced giving commands, taught tricks and tried agility – encouraging a dog through a tunnel or over a jump.  They discussed animal shelters, rescue and breed discrimination, topics that often resonated with their own life experience.  

A Fair Shake for Youth works with underserved kids in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the South Bronx.  As the kids work Screen_Shot_2016-01-14_at_5.26.47_PM.pngwith the dogs they practice building a positive and respectful relationship.  They build empathy as they look at the world from the dogs’ point of view and self-esteem as the dogs listen to them.  They begin to see more possibilities for themselves and their future.  


I was surprised that the dogs like me and listen to me, “ said Juan.  “It made me feel like a leader,” said Daniela.


Sam, a 6-year old Blue-Heeler mix from a kill shelter in Georgia has worked with AFair-shake-for.png Fair Shake for the last four years.  “These dogs know they’re doing something good,“ says volunteer Brenda Johnson.   “And it is great for them too – Sam loves all of the attention and socializing.”


Audrey Hendler founded A Fair Shake five years ago.  Audrey had transitioned her marketing career to teach in a prison dog program.  Seeing the positive impact the dogs had on the inmates Audrey realized there was an untapped opportunity to bring the power of dogs to bear at a much earlier age.

Fair-shake-for-youth..pngA Fair Shake has reached over 1,000 youth and now has a waiting list of schools – including schools in Sunset Park, East New York and Crown Heights.  A Fair Shake needs more volunteer teams – handler and dog.


We hope you and pup might be interested.

Dogs who work with A Fair Shake are either registered therapy dogs or AKC Canine Good Citizens.   A new therapy dog training class is scheduled for

Sunday evening – January 24th and February 7th from 6:00-8:00
at Doggie Academy, 213 21st Street, South Slope

For more information or to get involved, please visit or email


Tags: therapy dogs, dogs reaching children, dogs helping children, Fair shake for youth, dogs helping kids, dogs helping the underserved