EPIC Pals works to build assets in local teenagers by focusing on the human-animal bond.  We are excited to be working with our sixth group of EPIC Pals students.  EPIC Pals is currently taking place at the Missouri Division of Youth Services Girardot Center. We meet three times a week and cover lessons in the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum while kids also get to spend time training and bonding with ‘their’ dogs.  Dogs who are going through the program live in foster homes for about 5-7 weeks while they complete the program.  We work to find the dogs their forever home before completion and so far, we have 100% success rate in placing the dogs.

Evaluations of the program have been very positive.  Youth participants are asked to take a pre and post survey of assets and risk behaviors and they are also asked to take a survey evaluating their experience with the program upon program completion.  In addition to positive feedback reported in those surveys, staff with the Missouri Division of Youth Services note that they are seeing positive impacts as a result of the program.  The Community Caring Council recently requested some funds from the Missouri Division of Youth Services to help support the EPIC Pals program and we are happy to report that request was granted.  While we are grateful for the funds we have available for this program, we are looking at ways to expand the Pals program and are looking for more funding opportunities to help us do that.  If you would like to help support the program financially, you can “sponsor a pal” for $25 or “sponsor a pair of pals” for $50.  By sponsoring a pal or a pair of pals, you can help cover the costs associated with a teenager and a dog completing the program including: positive reinforces (treats) for kids and dogs, EPIC Pals trainer tshirts and a small graduation gift for the youth participants, vet needs, transportation to and from the program, collars, leashes, crates, etc. for the furry program participants.  If you would like to help financially, you can visit https://www.epicprevention.org/donate/ and click on the “add to cart” button near the middle of the page.  After clicking on add to cart, you can select “sponsor a pal” or sponsor a pair of pals” and make your donation.  You may also mail donations to EPIC, 210 North Sprigg Street, Cape Girardeau, MO.

EPIC Pals truly is a community effort and this program wouldn’t exist without the help of all of you!  We would like to thank those who continue to help make this program a success!

Funders for this session include:
Missouri Division of Youth Services
Missouri Foundation for Health
Fosters for this session of EPIC Pals include:
Jake Basler (Jake fostered for us briefly but the dog she was fostering has already been adopted!)
Lynn McNally and family (Lynn dog sat for Jake and she decided to adopt the dog and agreed to let him complete the program!)
Lynn and Drew Shipman (this is the fourth time the Shipmans have fostered for us!)
Natalie Sandoval and Marcus Janzow (Natalie and Marcus have already adopted their dogs and are letting both complete the program!)
Sarah and Richard Landers (this is the third time the Landers have fostered for us!)
Shelly Welker and family (Shelly and family are fostering for the first time!)
Others who have helped with this session of Pals include:
Bollinger County Stray Project
Busch’s Pet Products
Holloway Carpet Floor & Home
Humane Society of Southeast Missouri

If you would like more information about EPIC Pals including information about how to serve as a foster for the program, please contact Shelly at pals@epicprevention.org or 573-837-9352.

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