ASPCA opens behavioral center to rehab 'unadoptable' dogs

Published on June 13, 2018

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opened the new ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Weaverville, North Carolina, on May 10 for the rehabilitation and study of extremely fearful, currently unadoptable homeless dogs, most of which are victims of cruelty or neglect.

The ASPCA opened the facility following a four-year behavioral rehabilitation pilot program in New Jersey, where more than 300 dogs with debilitating behavior issues were treated. These dogs were made available for adoption with rescue groups and shelters across the country, including the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City.

Covering 13 acres, the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center has the capacity to rehabilitate 65 dogs at a time. A team of experts in animal behavior will treat the dogs daily to reduce their fear of people and acclimate them to real-life situations that can induce trauma and severe stress.

The Watershed Foundation provided grant funding to support the development of the yearlong expansion project.

Homeless dogs of all breeds and ages are accepted at the center as long as they are physically healthy and have fearful behavior that compromises their quality of life and makes adoption challenging or impossible. Dogs that graduate from the rehabilitation program will be placed with shelters and rescue groups across the country for adoption.

The ASPCA also will launch a training program, the Learning Lab. The rehabilitation center includes a dormitory and space for shelter professionals to visit and learn from the center's team so they can implement rehabilitation techniques and sheltering protocols in their own operations. As the Learning Lab program evolves, the ASPCA plans to develop a national network of partner organizations that can share knowledge with other agencies in their communities.

The ASPCA documentary "Second Chance Dogs," available at, showcases the work of the behavioral rehabilitation program. More information about the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center is at

ASPCA rehab team and dogs
Members of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' behavioral rehabilitation team and dogs in the rehabilitation program interact outside the new ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Weaverville, North Carolina. (Courtesy of the ASPCA)

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