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Munch (who is now named Hunter) was a dog we had here at CMACC last year and was one of the first dogs coming through the Train to Adopt program.  I was recently asked by Emily of the Foundation for information about a dog that had been in the program and been adopted as a result of his training.  Emily was interested in featuring this dog one their blog.

Thankfully, one of our amazing volunteers, Suzanne Bond, had run into Hunter’s owner at a recent event at Dogtopia.  She had written me an email to say that Hunter was doing fantastic and Allison couldn’t be happier with him.  She was still thrilled about her experience with us and adopting a dog that had been trained.


Over a year ago Foundation awarded Animal Care & Control with a grant to create our now flourishing Train to Adopt program. Staff and volunteers wish to give a HUGE thank you to them and Sue Sternberg for giving us the opportunity to help our shelter dogs and bringing Karen Owens, a wonderful dog training, on board!

Click here to see the Thank You video!


Train to Adopt Program

Thanks to a grant from the Foundation, starting February 1st and continuing throughout 2011, Friends of Pima Animal Control in Tucson, Missouri Humane Society in St. Louis, Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control in North Carolina and the Pennsylvania SPCA in Philadelphia will have four trainers practicing the Train To Adopt method developed by well-known dog trainer, Sue Sternberg.

Basically, her method uses physical objects, food and mental stimulation to retrain behavior in shelter dogs. “Calming a shelter dog is one of the most important things that you can do. Teach these dogs how to learn and instantly they will connect with a person, which equates to adoption,” says Sue.

The four shelter trainers were required to collect pre-program data on their respective shelters. This includes, but is not limited too: the measurement of barking duration periods, instances of pacing, spinning, rebounding off kennel walls, licking, adoption rates, return rates, frequency of diarrhea and dog adoption fees.

The Train to Adopt Program developed from the idea that kennel life is stressful and unnatural for a dog, which can result in abnormal behavior. If any of the above behaviors are witnessed, it is a quality of life emergency and needs to be addressed immediately. The minimal requirements to ward off this behavior: 20 minutes of human touch daily, two minutes of daily reward based training and play time with a human or other dogs three times a week.

As part of the program, the four shelter trainers will also be required to train shelter staff and volunteers. Karen Owens, trainer at Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control, has received positive feedback from volunteers who she recently trained in the Train to Adopt Method.

"Great program - will help the animals. Like the idea of consistency in training methods for volunteers. So glad that you are here to help!"

"I think the program has already helped in the first two months.  Dogs who would otherwise be bored and frustrated in the kennel are learning useful skills that improve their chances of being adopted and not returned. "

"I have been volunteering at CMACC for almost eight years, and last week I noticed a positive change in the atmosphere in our kennels.  I have never seen and felt our dogs' stress levels this low.   The dogs seem calmer and far less stressed. I am certain that the change is due to you and our training program.  Many, many thanks to you and our sponsors for our fine training program.  I am seeing many positive changes, and I am deeply grateful.  I know the dogs are too!"

This grant has been made possible through the generous support of
The Animal Rescue Site and

Important to Note: The Train to Adopt Program does not involve any assessment protocols or temperament training. The program is strictly covering dog behavior and quality of life improvement.

Article courtesy of train-to-adopt.

Go to our Train to Adopt page to learn more about our trainer and see some of the dogs that have been through the training. You can also see some video's of our dogs going through their obedience paces.

Visit to read a blog about this program and success stories.


    Our Trainer: Karen Owens

Dexter practicing "leave it" with Karen.

Training Credentials:

  • Trainer, Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control
    Owner, Clever Canine Dog Training
  • Chief Trainer
    paws4peopleTM foundation North Carolina
  • Chief Trainer 
    Federal Prison Camp Alderson, Alderson, VW
  • Chief Trainer
    Federal Prison Camp Jesup, Jesup, GA


  • Bachelors of Science Degree in Elementary Education, Miami University
  • Masters Degree in Special Education, Xavier University
  • Certified Pet Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed, Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers 
  • Canine Good Citizen Evaluator
  • Certified Assistance Dog Trainer, Bergin University of Canine Studies
  • Certified Assistance Dog Trainer, pKTI (paws4people K-9 Training Institute)
  • Certified Assistance Dog Handler, pKTI (paws4people K-9 Training Institute)