…at Both Ends of the Leash!

Is there anything more rehabilitating then the unconditional love of an animal? PIVOT believes that every life either human or animal has value, no matter how broken or unwanted and that every life deserves a chance to find their place in the world.
Pivot is a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization (tax ID# 36-4826290) which provides the first and only canine educational outreach program in the Ventura County criminal justice system. Presently we have programs at both Ventura County’s Sheriff Office – Todd Road Jail Facility (Ruff Road) and at the Ventura County Probation Departments Juvenile Center (Pawsitive Steps). Both programs are designed to encourage this underserved, at risk population to find their voice through our innovative animal assisted literacy based programs that are designed to develop personal and vocational skills.

Pivot’s vision is to uplift and inspire this at risk population in our county to achieve success by using their collective voice to become leaders through our literacy based animal assisted educational programs. Pivot intends to help the incarcerated individuals in our county run programs to overcome social and behavioral issues with our canine programs which is truly restorative in that they offer a way back into the good graces of society by allowing the inmate the opportunity to feel and prove to themselves that they do have worth to themselves, and their community.

Pivot’s canine training programs allow minimum and medium custody inmates incarcerated in Ventura County facilities to train last chance shelter dogs in preparation for their adoption. The inmates are given a chance to serve the community by training dogs to be well-behaved “K-9″ good citizen pets. The inmates teach basic obedience, house training and socialization through non-aggressive positive reinforcement. Our program offers inmates the opportunity to receive certified training that could aid them in obtaining a job upon their release. Pivot’s program benefits more than just the handler and the dog, it helps the community as a whole. While the dogs learn good manners, gain confidence, become adoptable and often become future leader dogs, the handlers gain patience, learn a new set of skills and gain a great level of empathy and compassion. Pivot’s animal assisted programs are committed to supporting its participants towards a life of opportunity, wellbeing, freedom, inclusion and community contribution. Decision making skills, positive change, as well as positive integration and participation in the community are the fundamental principals of our programs.

At the heart of Pivot’s programs is the power of unconditional love. There is no denying the impact of the animal~human bond and its undeniable ability to unleash individualism which lays the groundwork to build the values of leadership. All of the activities are created, applied and charted for the levels of results, both successes and failures by the participants. All of the programs, at “Pawsitive Steps” at Ventura County Juvenile Center and “Ruff Road” at Todd Road Jail as well as every activity within those programs are led by the participants with professional mentors to develop skills, perhaps for the first time, then teaching those skills to the entire community while expanding both their individual and group action for social change.

Pivot’s animal assisted programs are designed to change the social and behavioral structure within these lockup facilities. The incarcerated community, both youth and adult, is made up of economically challenged, disadvantaged low income and disregarded human beings. Traditional lockup is built on stripping the rights and voice of its population as a means of control. This community has historically demonstrated cross culture division focusing on separatism rather than unification. These individuals are people who have not blended well with their families, school and community at large, and have repeatedly found themselves back in lockup. Pivot’s programs are geared to ignite social change through the elimination of separatism, reduction of violence, emotional abuse and animal cruelty through education, outreach and animal assisted therapy.

Historically, the success of canine assisted programs within correctional facilities is indisputable. Grady Perry, a program leader at an Alabama prison, told The New York Times that the dog training unit’s incident rate is “almost nonexistent” and added that the “dog program just kind of calms everyone down.” These types of reports are common and are in part responsible for the rapid growth of prison dog training programs across the globe. Since 1981 when Sister Pauline Quinn began the first dog training program for prisoner rehabilitation with the desire to offer renewed hope through a love of animals recidivism rates began to drop. Recidivism rates around the country are in facilities without canine assisted programs are 80 to 90%. These rates are known to drop as low as 11% within the inmate community with animal assisted program. To date there are 159 canine assisted programs in lock up facilities around the country but until now there has been nothing in Ventura county whose population covers ten cities and nearly 900,000 people.

Pivot’s collaboration with the Ventura County criminal justice agencies in their “Pawsitive Steps” and “Ruff Roads” programs is an example of hope and possibility for other jails, animal shelters and communities. Our program works tirelessly to find, and save last chance shelter dogs then pair them with inmates who are taught by experts to care for, train and ultimately find forever homes for their canine companion. There are over three million unwanted animals euthanized in shelters every year. The jails are overcrowded and recidivism rates are increasing. Pivot’s canine training program believes that when broken and unwanted lives cross paths they can give each other hope as one prisoner becomes the salvation of the other.

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
~ George Elliot