CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 200 students from Harper High School, where gang conflicts were common last school year, have enrolled in summer jobs programs, including a dog obedience training program in Englewood.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports one goal of the program is to use dogs to teach the students about human behavior.
The students went to Liberation Christian Center on the 6800 block of South Ashland Avenue, to begin learning how to train dogs.
Bishop James Dukes, who started the program at his church with a visit several years ago by NFL star Michael Vicks – following Vick’s troubles with dog fighting – said if you give kids something positive to do and keep them off the streets, it will have an impact on the violence on the streets.
“Any type of positive engagement will decrease violence in our community,” Dukes said.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports
Troy Gordon, who runs Woodlawn K-9 Academy, provided the dogs for the program, and is teaching 30 kids to train dogs.
“We will explore pack behavior, and we will also explore gang behavior,” he said. “We’re looking at how raising a puppy in one condition can create a calm, happy puppy. Raising a puppy in a more stressful condition can create violent or aggressive behaviors.”
The kids will be evaluated on how consistent they are in the classes, and how quickly their dogs progress in obedience training.
“Positive reinforcement teaches the dog positive; no negative stuff going on,” said a student named Mario.
Willie McIntosh said he and his classmates are learning about themselves by training the animals. He’s learning to teach obedience to a pit bull named Proof.
McIntosh said, without this program, “I’d probably be roaming the streets.”
Chicago Public Schools chief safety and security officer Jadine Chou said students were asked how to do something about the violence they live with every day, and the kids said they needed something positive to keep them busy this summer – they needed jobs.