The FETCH Project was founded on five core values that represent the heart of our program:
We believe that the development of effective leadership lies in being able to work cooperatively and collaboratively with a team, understanding how to utilize each individual’s unique strengths in order to enhance cohesiveness and creativity.
We teach a course in advanced dog training and behavior modification using techniques based on empathy, understanding, and connection.
We approach teaching from a holistic perspective, combining exercises in self-awareness, introspection, and theory with practical application and mentorship. As an organization, we are committed to the betterment of the lives of the individuals enrolled in our program and the community members that go through our public service programs.
We believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, compassion, and understanding, from our dogs to the human standing at the other end of the lead.
The inspiration behind FETCH really stems from the people I have had the honor of working with since beginning volunteer work with IDOC.
When you think about walking into a state prison, your first thought isn’t that you’re going to walk through those doors and be reminded of what it means to be human, but when working together to rehabilitate last chance shelter dogs, you can’t help but be reminded of the power of working towards a common goal, sharing a sense of passion and purpose.
Early in 2019, I was approached and asked, “so how would we go about getting certified [as dog trainers]?” That opening was all I needed, and The FETCH Project was born.
However, this program could not have been built without the relentless effort of my team, six men who were selected for participation in the pilot program. Throughout the entire process, they offered nothing but patience, dedication, insight, feedback, and a tireless, unrivaled support of the project and our mission.
What started as an endeavor to help the dog handlers achieve their professional certification as Certified Dog Trainers became an inspired opportunity to work not only within the prison walls, and positively impact the men incarcerated there, but an opportunity to build bridges within the community and serve the public from the inside out.
The shared vision between myself and my team is what has allowed FETCH to turn an idea into a reality