PCF Grantee Spotlight: K9 Youth Alliance

A girl aged approximately 10 years old and wearing a royal-blue tshirt stands facing a gray pit bull dog sitting in profile on a raised platform. It looks intently at her as she raises two fingers in a command. Luna gets the attention of her partner dog, Apollo.

Ten-year-old Luna stands patiently while her shelter dog, Apollo, straightens on his leash and readies himself for the obstacle course. The pair are participants in K9 Youth Alliance (K9YA), a local organization that recently received one of Pasadena Community Foundation’s 2023 Animal Welfare Grants. On a Friday in late April, Luna and Apollo joined seven student-dog teams in becoming graduates of the K9YA program and participating in a fun obstacle course showcase. PCF was there to watch!

“Kids Helping Dogs Helping Kids”

K9 Youth Alliance brings shelter dogs together with local youth for an intensive, afterschool three-week training period. During that time, the dogs learn valuable skills from their young partners that improve their chances of getting adopted. In turn, the students build confidence, self-esteem, and leadership skills, while also learning the value of building a trusting relationship.

A girl about 12 years old wearing a blue and orange K9 Youth Alliance tshirt guides a German Shepherd dog using a hand command.
Allisson guides her dog Helsinki during the K9 Youth Alliance graduation showcase on April 28 at the Boys and Girls Club Mackenzie Scott Clubhouse in northwest Pasadena.

The students build their symbiotic relationship with their dogs with the help of professional dog trainers, skilled volunteers, and a program that emphasizes positive reinforcement and force-free training. “Our experiential program allows youth and shelter dogs to learn and grow with the encouragement of our dedicated adult team members,” says Executive Director Kelly Osburn. “Thanks to PFC’s generous grant, K9 Youth Alliance will make significant strides in fulfilling our mission of providing opportunities for homeless shelter dogs to get the socialization and enrichment they deserve, as well as providing opportunities for growth for youth from under-resourced communities.”

Watch our short video to see the dog-youth teams in action!

Three women pose together in a line. Kelly Osburne wears a gray and blue jersey-type tshirt, Lisa Cavalier in the middle wears a pink Boys & Girls Club Pasadena tshirt, and Quartney Cervantes on the right wears a blue collared Boys & Girls Club Pasadena tshirt.
Kelly Osburn, K9YA Executive Director, on left, joins Boys & Girls Club CEO Lisa Cavalier (center) & VP of Strategy & Impact Quartney Cervantes (right) at the April 28 K9YA graduation showcase. All photos by Camille Stemmons.