One great thing about having a larger facility is it gives us the ability to try new programs that simply wouldn’t fit in our former Wire Road shelter. The first new program we have implemented is Phideaux University (pronounced “Fido”).

The first question we usually get is “what is it?” It is a comprehensive training program for dogs to get them adopted more quickly and to stay adopted and not be returned for behavioral issues.

Our dogs are with us until they are adopted, no matter how long that takes.

For those that don’t really stand out in the looks department or that pull too much on a leash or jump in excitement on people they meet, their adoption can sometimes take many months or, in rare cases, years to happen.

Phideaux University lead instructor Ann Kinney and her dedicated team of volunteers concentrate on medium and larger dogs that might otherwise get looked over by potential adopters.

The key is repetition, consistent training and positive reinforcement for these dogs to teach them the basics, such as walking on a leash without pulling your arm socket out, sit, stay, not jumping in excitement, how to behave around other dogs and more.

Each day you visit our facility, you will see Ann and her crew outside working with dogs or in the Marr Education and Training Center if they need a quiet area away from the pack.

I’ve seen firsthand the changes in dogs that have come in with no manners or training transformed into well trained, very adoptable pets that will fit into just about any household.

Why did we start the program? First, it gets dogs that have been overlooked the necessary tools to stand out to potential adopters.

No one wants to take home a 70-pound dog that, when excited, will pull you down and drag you when you take him for a walk, or an excited dog that might knock over your child when playing in the backyard.

Now you can adopt a shelter dog, which is doing a community service while adding a pet to your family, and you can get one that will fit into your home seamlessly with a wealth of knowledge that the average dog doesn’t have.

Second is the old numbers game. We only have so many spaces to put dogs up for adoption.

By concentrating extra effort on the harder to place candidates, we can move many more through the system, allowing us to save even more that otherwise might not have gotten a second chance.

Currently, Phideaux University has more than 20 students enrolled. It is exciting to see their progress each day.

Many of these dogs have never had any previous training. Some have never even lived indoors before coming to our facility.

With positive reinforcement and the hard work of their instructors, these animals are ready and willing to learn the types of behaviors that any owner would expect and hope for in a new pet.

The early results are very positive. Many long-term residents have already been adopted and are staying adopted.

Volunteers are coming in each day and learning that they did such a great job with their dogs that some have been adopted since their last visit.

After a quick celebration, they enroll another student and start the training again.

We’ve received great support from the community in covering the expenses of the program so far, so we haven’t had to raise adoption fees for these special dogs.

We are always looking to add new professors to Phideaux University; with all of your training provided by the instructor.

To learn about how to volunteer, please email us at

If you want to meet one of our graduates in person, give us a call at 648-6863 or visit us at our new location at 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken.