Calif. detention center connects troubled youth with shelter dogs

SACRAMENTO -- A youth detention center is connecting troubled teens with abandoned dogs, the kids and amimals are helping each other get a second chance.

It's the most popular hour inside Sacramento's youth detention center -- the class connecting dogs looking for a better future to kids with troubled pasts.

"They could be coming here for petty theft, they could come here for murder, robbery," says Sacramento Youth Detention Facility Chief Brian Lee. 

Because they're minors, California law won't allow us to show you their faces.

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Pawsitive Impact in Sacramento connects troubled youth with rescue dogs.

CBS News

But every teen in this program called "Pawsitive Impact" seems to light up with each encounter.

"They drop that serious look of 'I'm tough and I need to protect myself' and now they just become kids again," Lee says. 

The premise is simple.

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Pawsitive Impact asks kids in a youth detention center in Sacramento to help train shelter dogs.

CBS News

"We come to the kids and ask them for their help to train these dogs to make them more adoptable," said Amanda Banks, executive director of Pawsitive Impact. 

Three times a week, for just over a month, the teens teach the animals basic commands, sometimes bonding in unexpected ways.

"These are shelter dogs, so maybe they've been abused, neglected, abandoned, they've gone through a lot in their lives to get into the shelter, so the kids can connect with them on a deeper level, because maybe they've gone through some similar things," Banks said. 

The class has been wildly successful for the dogs -- every one of the 240 trained here has been adopted.

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Three times a week, for just over a month, the teens teach the animals basic commands and sometimes bond in unexpected ways.

CBS News

Program leaders believe these kids will ultimately find success too.

Banks says she hopes it's changing lives.

"They're motivated to work with these dogs, so it's making a difference," Banks says. 
 
All the animals in Pawsitive Impact come from city-run shelters. The program is run by volunteers.